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Design secrets

first_imgOne of the greatest joys has to be the thrill of discovery; uncovering hidden gems that peek out from everyday mundanity. So whether it’s a scarcely known fashion designer of Indian descent who has dressed top Hollywood celebrities or a new bar in portside Pondicherry that lives and breathes history,One of the greatest joys has to be the thrill of discovery; uncovering hidden gems that peek out from everyday mundanity. So whether it’s a scarcely known fashion designer of Indian descent who has dressed top Hollywood celebrities or a new bar in portside Pondicherry that lives and breathes history in a carefully curated design cocoon or the scion of a royal family who moonlights as a jewellery designer, our insider secrets unveil some of the most storied vignettes of the design world.Beauty, by designRachel Roy, Fashion designer, US With a passion for fashion, a head for business and a face that makes cameras smile, Rachel Irene Roy makes exotic look cliched. Born and raised in California to a Dutch mother and a Bengali father, Roy started collecting Vogue magazines as a child, using fashion pages as a passport to dream a different life. “I remember as a three-year-old in India, trading my favourite long blue dress for my cousin’s gold sari and feeling like I was completely winning in the trade.” Her love of Indian colours and heritage has been a constant since her childhood and still finds a way into her design aesthetic. The globally-recognised Rachel Roy brand, which she launched in 2004, includes ready-to-wear and accessories business includes contemporary, curvy, dresses, outerwear, jewellery and swimwear. While old Hollywood glamour informs her sense of style, the Los Angeles-based designer has named her daughters after famous Hollywood starlets, Ava Gardner and Tallulah Bankhead. With a client roster that boasts names such as Michelle Obama, Kate Hudson, Sharon Stone, Tyra Banks and Penelope Cruz, Roy believes that fashions feeds “the idea that you can be whomsoever you wish and tell a story without opening your mouth”. Of collections and chutzpah Strong, sexy and cool; we approach each collection the way we live our lives and what we want to wear on our journey to design the lives we wish to live. Strong prints, mixing materials to create individual feeling pieces, and sexy silhouettes with a twist is what sets us apart. Feeling beautiful and confident starts from the inside, but fashion has a transformative power. It can re-frame your perspective on life inside out.advertisementRachel Roy with her daughters backstage after a show On India inspirations: I love mixing prints and bright saturations of colour. All of that stems from my Indian heritage. The idea of dressing up and allowing the clothing and make-up to transform your appearance, is another Indian trait I believe.Fickle fashion; faithful staples: Trench as a dress, tight turtleneck, black blazer, men’s shirts, LBD that makes you feel fantastic, and of course, a pointy toe pump.By Chumki BharadwajMessage in a bottleThe Storytellers Bar, PondicherryOne half nostalgia mixed with one quarter history, topped up with memoriesand stirred with a dash of whimsy; The Storytellers’ Bar is a cocktailof words, sounds and images. Deep in the cavernous belly of thePromenade, a collective of stories woven around the magic of Pondicherry lives and breathes in a special curated space where evenings are givenover to the flow of soul and the accompaniment of spirits. And whobetter than the son of the soil, Hidesign founder Dilip Kapur toorchestrate this movement. Kapur got together with Simran Mulchandani of Blue Frog and designer Ayaz Basrai of The Busride to rope in KapilThirwani of Munro Acoustics.The book-lined ceiling of the Storyteller’s bar stands out As you descend the one floorstaircase to the bar, the neck cranes upwards to the arched ceilinglined with open books that symbolise storytelling. Traditional oxideflooring in blue is used as makeup for the walls with old typewriters as installations. The Wall of Stories-the main feature of the bar-is acanvas painted with a variety of memorabilia, stories, anecdotes, propsand articles about Pondicherry. Here you will discover the pagla sadhu, a Boston Brahmin who was a favourite of The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) butchose to live on a snake-infested island, of the Mother’s talents as aperfumer, of the trials and triumphs of the ‘Take what you need, givewhat you can’ dictum of Auroville.The French-Tamil menu is aloving ode to local organic produce, whether it’s the delightfulcheeses, the fragrant seed breads or the mud crabs. The cocktails havebeen crafted with a similar passion for source local, serve global. Both the organic Piroshka and the chocolate filter Kaapi are disturbinglydelicious. The latter, a decadent combine of Kahlua, whisky, localchocolate and espresso, is served in the traditional dabara. Nostalgiais a dish best served with music and this is where magic happens whenpart of the bar morphs into a performance space for wandering minstrels, jazz bands, book readings and even soliloquies. Fresh as mint (it’sonly about a month old), the bar represents not just the past but thepromise of Pondicherry. Tel: 0 413 222 7750advertisementBy Chumki BharadwajHigh on styleCoco Shambhala, SindhudurgLounge at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg With plush villas that offer panoramic 180 degree sea views, massiveinfinity pools with steep drops that mimic the Jurassic-like Sindhudurgcoastline, bespoke crockery and an elegant dining experience, luxuryresort Coco Shambhala is high on design and style. The distinctivefeature of the local vernacular is the four-way pitched Mangalore tiledroof. The villas are built manually by artists from across the countrywithout a crane, JCB or any mechanical device. The steel frames arecreated without a single weld with 3688 holes drilled in physically,making the structure easy to dismantle without leaving any scars on theland. The furniture fits in seamlessly with the local design-48carpenters worked with reclaimed Indian iron wood and coconut over ninemonths. Visit: www.cocoshambhala.comBy Aditi PaiA bespoke space28 Kothi, JaipurThe library at 28 Kothi, Jaipur With gardens, sun-kissed terraces, cozy reading corners and windows withintricate jaali work, 28 Kothi marries traditional Rajasthani designelements with a clean aesthetic and bespoke decor pieces. Whilejewellery designer and owner of the iconic The Gem Palace, MunnuKasliwal had built it as a private residence, his son Siddharth and NewYork and Mumbai-based restaurateur Abhishek Honawar, with creativeexpertise from interior designer Nur Kaoukji, transformed it into amodern luxurious guesthouse with customised furniture, carpets andartifacts. Bathed in earthy neutral colours and adorned by a jaalidesign, hand drawn by the senior Kasliwal to highlight Jaipur’s designheritage, 28Kothi is a delightful flashback. Visit: www.28kothi.comby Aditi PaiAn ode to artJusta Design Hotel, ChennaiRoop corridor at the Justa Design Hotel, Chennai Past the glass facade of Chennai’s most bustling mall is a surprise thattakes you on a journey through Tamil art and culture, one design element at a time. International design and traditional art forms come together seamlessly in each of the four floors (Ati, Maya, Rooh and Nunya) atthe 26-room boutique property. Ati takes inspiration from the ricekolams on doorsteps with rooms featuring gold leafing and vaultedceilings. Roop is inspired by the thousand-pillared Meenakshi Temple ofMadurai. The Maya rooms, with floor to ceiling glass, feature anoriginal Tanjore painting in each room. Designed by Mumbai-based PromitNath, the hotel uses real art and stays away from imitation orreplication. Visit: www.justahotels.comBy Prachi SibalRevival of graceThe Corner Courtyard, KolkataDining at The Corner Courtyard, Kolkata There’s a corner house on Sarat Bose Road that’s literally risen from the ashes to become one of Kolkata’s best loved boutique hotels. Originally built in the late 19th century, The Corner Courtyard was restored and istoday a design haven; the colours, textures and fabrics used give it afitting context. Colour plays a key role in giving the place itsidentity and is part of the design and story of the property. Therestaurant has an entire wall dedicated to antique keys, another room is mirror obsessed and restored period furniture graces the rooms. Theseven rooms draw on the city’s colour palette and are theme-based. Frompaying a tribute to Satyajit Ray to recalling the yellow ambassadorcars, each room tells a unique design story. Visit:www.thecornercourtyard.comadvertisementBy Prachi BhucharFashionBack to Indian rootsShravan Kummar, HyderabadShravan Kummar’s designs draw on heritage For designer Shravan Kummar, fabric is the hero of his design story.Referring to himself as a craftsman rather than a designer, Kummarweaves magic through fabric, merging generations-old embroidery andweaving techniques with wearability and comfort. This heritage of fabric and workmanship, he insists, has always been his design secret. Kumarpromotes the use of traditional handicrafts like phulia, Parsi,Srikakulam khadi, Salem, Jamdhani, Paithani, Kerala, Kanchi, Gadwal,Pochampally, Dharmavaram, Mangalagiri, Venkatagiri, and Uppada, throughhis creations. Visit: www.fashionthereligion.comBy Jahnavi ChakravartyTalking threadsCluny Embroidery Centre, PondicherryThe women are silent, hard at work, at Cluny Embroidery Centre, locatedinside a well maintained 18th century bungalow at Romain Rolland Streetin Pondicherry. The needlework experts here are underprivileged womenwho work under the watchful eyes of the sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny.The bungalow itself can serve as a design inspiration, with its 12-feethigh doors, polished wooden closets and chests. Designs here are created on request, and the smallest piece (a kerchief) costs as much as Rs500, but the sisters insist that people who realise the true value ofhandwork will always come back. Visit: www.cluny.inBy Jahnavi ChakravartyInspired by natureJanota, GoaJanota’s shoes depict elves and pixies For 20 years now, a small design boutique has been creating footwear thatcould well be a piece of art. Transitioning from fabric to leather,Janota, taking its name from the Portuguese word for ‘stylish’ has beenhandcrafting shoes in small numbers for a niche clientele. Edwin Pinto,58, with no formal training in shoemaking took to the trade seriouslyafter Wendell Rodricks came to Goa and invited him to design acollection. From creepers to flowers and snakes to butterflies, Pinto is inspired by nature in all its forms. Then there are elves and pixiestaking design to a magical realm. “Comfort comes first but the pair ofshoes must stand out,” says Pinto who is experimenting with hemp for its eco-friendly nature. Janota also customises for size and colour. Visit: www.janotagoa.comBy Prachi SibalAccessoriesThe classic modernistHanut SinghHanut Singh’s jewellery has Mughal influences Royalty’s tryst with all things sparkly has always been part sentiment, partstatement. In the case of Hanut Singh, it was the perfect amalgam ofpassion and provenance that put him on the creative side of the drawingboard. A scion of the royal family of Kapurthala, Singh, 44, designssublime jewellery that has Mughal influences, architectural inspirations with interplay of unusual colours. Although his designs have been wornby celebrities such as Diane von Furstenberg, Wendi Deng Murdoch,Beyonce, and even Madonna, he claims to have had the most fun designingKaty Perry’s engagement ring when she married Russell Brand. Singhcharacterises his jewellery as “whimsical with a distinctive edge thatdrips with sheer glamour and ease.” While gold is the metal of choice,his favourite stones keep changing; he is currently obsessed withParaiba tourmalines and Herkimer diamonds. Exclusive to the point ofbeing reclusive, he retails only through gallery shows or by appointment in India and at Roseark in Los Angeles and Fred Leighton in New York.Visit: www.hanutsingh.comBy Chumki BharadwajDesign meets dramaCheshire Cat Gallery, GoaCheshire Cat Gallery create modern jewellery You could easily miss it, were it not for the bright blue cat signs thatsneak up on you at every lane turn in this Goan village. Launched by the husband wife team of Kees van Andel and Karen Peace in 2009, theCheshire Cat Gallery is truly a hidden gem. Located inside a restoredPortuguese villa in leafy, sleepy Assagao, the jewellery has been lauded internationally because of the remarkable, out-of-the-box designs thatare given life in the studio located on the same premises. The couple(from the Netherlands and UK) is inspired by the sights, sounds andsmells of India and use traditional handcrafting methods to createmodern jewellery that boasts design drama and look exquisite. Usingunusual precious and semi-precious stones, they also have a charmingsilver line and even customise.Call 91 83265 10294By Prachi BhucharCreator of luxeMeera MahadeviaMeera Mahadevia likes to use precious stones in her bags Often referred to as Indian design’s best kept secret, Meera Mahadevia has,for the past 32 35years been creating some of the most innovative,handcrafted luxury handbags. She’s had clients ranging from ElizabethHurley to Freida Pinto sporting her bags. Mahadevia is unafraid of using unusual materials including marble, wooden, precious and semi-preciousstones and silver engravings on her handbags. Anything but leather,which the designer believes is jarring in combination with Indiantextiles. Mahadevia who has tied up with Anthropolgie, has exhibited atNewark Museum in New Jersey as well as the Asian Civilisation Museum inSingapore, has continued to root her work in the Indian aesthetic.Visit: www.meeramahadevia.comBy Moeena HalimRetail13 Spruce upRare Rabbit, ChennaiLaunched about two years ago, the brand aims to influence the Indian man intomaking an extra effort and paying attention to detail when he dressesup. Floral shirts to interesting linear prints on T-shirts are part oftheir design repertoire, but it doesn’t end there. Inspired by histravels across the globe, creative director Manish Poddar ensures acarefully curated collection of ceramic accessories such as lapel pinsand bow ties in metallic colours, luxury and vintage eyewear tooensuring that Indian men dress to impress. Visit: www.rarerabbit.inBy Moeena HalimCurator of chicTeatro Dhora, Jaipur Meant to be a launching pad for the country’s emerging designers, TeatroDhora truly applies itself to the cliche that has become a conceptstore. Marrying traditional designs with contemporary, fashion-forwardcuts and silhouettes, Dhora curates the best of clothes, jewellery,accessories, and houseware. Aavriti Jain and Siddharth Daspan promotethe technicolour culture of Rajasthan through their wares. Jaipur’sfirst concept store also doubles as a theatre space where artists canshare their work. Dhora opened its doors in 2014 and top design picksinclude antiquated cupboards, vintage lamps, quirky paintings,hand-blocked tunics, personalised stationery and handcrafted tribaljewellery. Contact 0141 402 7979By Jahnavi ChakravartyVintage styleThe Gentlemen’s Community, MumbaiIt’s hard to miss Karan Bangera’s sartorial elegance-made to measure linenshirts, tapered trousers, vintage moccasins, lots of beaded braceletsand silver rings and double breasted jackets which he has “a soft corner for”. The handpicked collection at his Santacruz store takes you to the vintage stores and markets of Europe with lapel pins, collar bars,brooches, ties and vintage watches. “Nostalgia is under priced and thatis what I want to bring to my audience. Objects in the past were muchmore thoughtfully designed and made,” says the founder of TheGentleman’s Community.OLD MEETS NEW A vintage watch by The Gentlemen’s Community “I grew up around suits, buttons, threadsand some gorgeous silk and woolen fabric,” says the hospitalitygraduate-fashion entrepreneur who saw his father make bespoke clothesfor his clients in Bandra. He saw world fashion from close quarterswhile he donned various hats from selling beers at a football stadium in London to working with a French celebrity chef in Singapore. Hisenviable collection has vintage silk ties by Ralph Lauren, BrooksBrothers, Ferragamo and Hermes, gold plated art deco cufflinks from the70s, lapel pins, brooches and collar bars and vintage eyewear scouredfrom stores in Italy, Germany, France and Austria. “Vintage watches isalso a fetish that is growing rapidly,” he says. Contact: 91 9819389118By Aditi PaiTryst with traditionSanskriti Lifestyle, PuneCollectibles by Sanskriti Lifestyle Vintage collectibles and refurbished old furniture share space with compactcontemporary pieces as cats sleepily watch customers walk in to browsethe latest collection by owners Sonali and Shalaka Pingale. The duo isknown for their tastefully done up homes in Koregaon Park a s well astheir sprawling bungalow-store. The iconic store is where old meets new; they source from temples, old homes and havelis and restore thefurniture into vintage pieces. “We are built on the concept of upcycling and reusing products,” says Shalaka who shares her mother-in-lawSonali’s love for design and decor and conceptualizes modern pieces like bar cabinets, side tables and drawers in shades of blue, olive, red and distressed white “Utility and looks should go together and along withantique heavy pieces, we also need furniture that is compact to fit into city apartments,” she says. Visit: www.sanskritilifestyle.inBy Aditi PaiCraftThe luxury aestheticVastrakala, ChennaiVastrakala’s clientele is discerning, exacting and is aware of the value ofexpertise. No wonder then, that they are willing to pay the steep pricetag which accompanies individuality. The embroidery atelier is run byFrenchman Jean-Francois Lesage, a third-generation embroiderer of theParis-based House of Lesage, which was acquired by Chanel in 2002.Vastrakala is now counted among the cream of luxury embroidered homefurnishing. Housed in a gracious old bungalow in Chennai, the atelier is home to artisans who work hard to produce perfectly finished pieces for demanding customers. Lesage is passionate about the nuances of design,and is well versed in the art and history of embroidery. He takes pridein the continuity and revival of a 5,000-year-old tradition that hetakes great pains to preserve. Visit: www.lesageinterieurs.comBy Jahnavi ChakravartyPreserving heritageAishwarya Tipnis Architects, DelhiChandernagore is a sleepy French town with a Bengali heart, a testimony to theconfluence of both cultures, a melange of Indo European expressionsuperbly manifested in its quaint meandering streets, its elegantpromenade and homes planned around courtyards with European lookingfacades with intricate stucco detailing. The architectural milieu is abrilliant combination of European planning principles with Indianaesthetics, stucco embellishments in terracotta work, floral patterns,decorative cast and wrought iron railings. The most critical challengein the conservation of urban heritage is balancing the significance ofthe past with the needs of tomorrow. “A large part of the conservationapproach is hinged on creating a climate for conservation, education,and outreach apart from the physical restoration. Each building has astory to tell and we find those clues which help us arrive at a designsolution that is most appropriate,” says Aishwarya Tipnis.Visit:www.aishwaryatipnisarchitects.comBy Jahnavi ChakravartyFacade of Jora Ghat in Chandernagore Cover styleIshan Khosla Design, DelhiA book cover by Ishaan Khosla Ishan Khosla fell in love with book cover design while interning for thepublishing house, Farrar, Straus & Giroux in New York. A challenging and largely unexplored field, book cover designing is still finding its feet in India. “Some covers are challenging from the point of view oftranslating a complex concept visually; while others can be challengingfrom the point of view of expressing something mundane in a uniquemanner. Then there are challenges in terms of illustration or in termsof sourcing or creating props and objects to be shot for the cover,”explains Khosla. Ishan Khosla Design has been featured in India:Contemporary Design – Graphics, Fashion and Interiors (The Victoria& Albert Museum) on contemporary Indian design which was part of the V&A show on Indian design in 2015 as well as the VeniceBiennale.Visit: www.ishankhosladesign.comBy Jahnavi ChakravartyBreaking the mouldStarting Monday, MumbaiPicture a lush green patch of trees with the backdrop of the railway tracks, atrain lulling by gently once in a while; butterflies in the spring andthe pitter patter of rain in the monsoon. The view from the StartingMonday office, housed in a century-old building, is poetic and plays ahuge role in the inspiration for the small team of designers led byPratish Mepani. They’re all artists, asserts Mepani, but the art theycreate goes on packaging not on canvases. The six-year-old firm hasdesigned the branding for companies as varied as Anita Dongre, theCotton Association of India and Le 15 Patisserie. The aim is to carve aniche for Indian design, steering clear of cliche and meetinginternational standards. Their old school design for Oye Punjabi, taking inspiration from Indian poster art and good truck art, is perhaps thebest example of this. In stark contrast, but just as impressive, are the clever elevator posters they’ve created for the Trident Hotel inMumbai.Visit: Moeena Halimlast_img read more