For the very first time, Asian Paints announced their venture into luxury handcrafted wallpaper titled – INK at the Colour Next 2022. The collection has been designed by the AP Atelier in Jaipur, and titled Wandering Lines. Designed by Maximiliano Modesti, INK wall coverings are handmade by artisans and revives traditional techniques such as hand block and screenprinting.
Maximiliano Modesti is a craft and fashion entrepreneur based between Bombay and Paris, since 1994. Trained as a fashion and textile designer, he was couturier Azzedine Alaia’s studio manager from 1994 to 1998. Milano has studied and tracked Indian crafts and textiles since a long time. He established Les Ateliers 2M in Paris and Mumbai, a design studio and production center for luxury brands, where he has worked with Indian artisans and textile artists closely. Milano has worked with Indian embroidery and textile artisans to create works of art for discerning clients both domestically and abroad. Milano was a natural choice according to Amit Syngle, MD and CEO, Asian Paints Ltd, “He has been able to contribute to the top fashion houses of Europe, Stella McCartney, Hermès, and others. He has been harnessing Indian craftsmanship to design some of their products. We were convinced that Maximiliano can bring that experience, his touch with the artisans, his work in the space of luxury to INK. He therefore was the ideal choice for partnering, as someone who could give shape to our dreams and bring to life the artisanal element of INK wall coverings.”
In 2016, Maximiliano Modesti established the Kalhath Institute, a non-profit entity dedicated to the recognition of luxury craft excellence in India through a craft excellence center, in Lucknow, to upskill homegrown artisans to international practice levels, which is an integral part of the curriculum. In 2015, pieces by Les Atelier’s 2M were featured as part of The Fabric of India exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He was the recipient of the JSW Craftsmanship Award for excellence in craft along with the Kalhath Institute. Maximiliano is also a patron of the arts, having recently delved into the art gallery space in a collaborative effort culminating in the opening of the ModestiPerdiolle Gallery, in Brussels, Belgium. LuxeBook spoke to the designer Maximiliano Milano and Amit Syngle, CEO and MD of Asian Paints, about their latest collaboration.
Tell us about your collaboration with Asian Paints.
Max: The origin story of this collaboration is my meeting with Amit Syngle, MD & CEO, Asian Paints Limited, four years ago. That’s when I told him, almost like a challenge, that it was his responsibility as a large corporation to merge and sustain and patronage Indian craft within the Asian Paints territory. So, when we looked at a collection of wallpapers, I told Amit that historically, wallpapers in India would be done with block printing, screen printing and hand painting; and that was no longer the case. Today, you could get wallpapers abroad, in France, in England, even in the US, block printed, some would be screen printed, but nobody in India would do these historical kinds (I mean, historical in the process, not in terms of design). I said, to Amit, let’s set up a manufacturing unit that will embrace all these crafts, let’s set up a unit where we will educate artisans, where we will give the artisans the resources to do their job slowly and in an excellent way. This is what the project is about, which became INK Jaipur. We decided that Jaipur was the best historical place in terms of design – block printing, screen printing and hand painting, these are all crafts of Jaipur. So INK Jaipur was born from this manufacturing unit, and from of course, a point of view on design.
What is the origin story of INK? How was it conceptualized and why?
Amit: We already had Nilaya, which started out as a collaboration with Sabyasachi some years back. With INK, we wanted to bring out uber luxury and truly define Indian luxury and artisanal work is one such major element of it. With INK, we see clearly all the artisanal elements coming together, whether it is block printing, screen printing, hand painting or embroidery.
What is your favourite design from the collection of INK wall coverings?
Amit: The design that we call Wonderland stands out as one of the most luxurious pieces. It beautifully employs the technique of embroidery. The embellishments create a 3-D look. It takes several hours to create a single masterpiece for adorning a wall. You can compare it to a limited-edition masterpiece that has the potential to transport the owner of the house into a world beyond. This is a favourite. My next favourite is from the collection called Another Mumbai.
What all crafts are promoted at the Kalhath Institute?
We have lots of projects at the Kalhath Institute which is in its fifth year. I would say that the most difficult part is done, we’ve put it on the map. And right now, we are working with amazing artists from around the world. We had the chance of starting the art residency three years ago. Today we are collaborating with the world’s biggest artists in terms of the art market and in terms of quality of work, which are working with the artisans to create new bodies of work. I’m really proud of this, because I would have never imagined that such big artists that I truly respected would welcome this initiative and support it.
Explain the vision behind the debut collection Wandering Lines?
Max: It’s always very difficult to do a first collection, because there’s no previous reference. So how do you position the collection in terms of design, to position the collection in terms of craft is actually easier, because crafts co-exist. You would know which craft you want to merge into the manufacturing unit. It starts with a manufacturing unit, then you need to design a collection and decide what you will do from this beautiful diamond that you’ve created. Wandering Lines is a collection related to my history in Europe and related to my history in India. It’s about my passion for textiles, for which Oasis is an example. It’s my passion for Italy, which La Casa is about. It’s my love for Mumbai, which Another Mumbai is about. And it was very important for me with this first collection to showcase the territory of what is possible, what is achievable in this manufacturing unit.
How can we experience art according to you in everyday life?
Max: People are always a bit scared about collecting, because they think it takes a lot of money to collect. I want to tell people that I started collecting when I was 16. And when I was 16, I was interning with a French company. I literally spent my first salary on an old photograph, which I cared for very much, because it was the first piece of art I bought. I want people to know that art is essential. Art is essential not to show off on your walls, but art is essential in your dialogue with yourself and in the dialogue to the world. So if you have a chance to be awakened by art, please go and meet artists. Please interact with artists and Indian artists need interactions. Indian artisans need the interactions. Don’t be afraid of going to talk to them. Don’t be afraid of sitting with them, looking at them and setting up a dialogue that will not only enrich them but enrich your life.