A multitude of cultures, a tapestry of weaves and a collection of craftsmanship come together in Ritu Kumar Home’s first ever collaboration with architect and interior designer Ashiesh Shah. The newly launched home decor range is knitted with design narratives from the cities of Amer, Jaisalmer,and Kochi. The two powerhouses travelled to these cities to capture the essence of deeply rooted traditions, local history, centuries-old craftsmanship perfected in the regions. The collection features a wide range of bed linen, wallpapers, tableware and home décor.
Capturing the soul of Kochi, this collection is enveloped in tones of green and gold, reminiscent of its scenic beauty and lush greenery. The geometry in it takes the form of the Nalukettu and its motifs have been derived from the leaves of a banana plant. Subtle gold borders are paired with an off-white fabric paying homage to the mundu and the Kerala Kasavu sarees, a customary drape with the same tonal and textural characteristics. The tableware is made with kansa, a metal used traditionally in the temples and households of South India.
Inspired by traditional Mughal paintings and their impeccably detailed architecture, the ‘Amer’ collection is enveloped in pastel hues and is symbolic of the typical havelis of Rajasthan. ‘The Pink City,’ washed in blush hues pairs with the blue hues of Jodhpur to celebrate the geometrical and symmetrical characteristics of The Amer Fort and The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.
This collection is influenced by the sand dunes of the deserts in Jaisalmer. It captures their earthiness in beige, brown and maroon hues. The topography of the dunes is represented through kanthaor the running stitch embroidery, traditionally practiced by the folk women in the remote villages of the state.
In conversation with Ashiesh Shah, Principal and Founder, Atelier Ashiesh Shah, and Amrish Kumar, Director and Creative Director Ritu Kumar, LuxeBook dives deep into the intricacies of the exclusive edit.
How did this collaboration come about?
Amrish Kumar: Ashiesh Shah is well known for his modern interpretation of indigenous aesthetic and art form and aligns with aesthetic of Ritu Kumar Home. For this very special collection, he has drawn inspiration from different regions and designed a collection which captures the essential cultural, aesthetic and mood of the place. The collection is familiar and rooted while being forward looking and clean.
Can you elaborate on the 2-year-long research and brainstorming process?
Ashiesh Shah: This journey began in Ritu Kumar’s studio where I took a fair while to study their archives along with their earlier collections. Reading her books and browsing through her work helped gain insights into her refined perception of India and her overarching aesthetic. Supplemented with a bank of information, we began our journey in an attempt to understand the world of Ritu Kumar — first — to layer it by infusing our thought process at the Atelier for a seamless and synchronised pairing. The collection was carefully researched, integrating design philosophies from elements that are specific to the context of each region with emphasis on their architecture and way of life. Every region was analysed and thoroughly researched to determine its mood board and the colour palette that finds its way through the entirety of the collection. Inspired by traditional Indian fashion, the collections celebrate the rich cultural and architectural diversity with a contemporary flair serving as a platform for textile and design to seamlessly blend into one another.
Why did you choose Amer, Jaisalmer, and Cochi as your inspiration?
Ashiesh Shah: The concept revolved around building this collection over time with culturally poignant spaces in India. To begin with, I gravitated towards the culturally rich yet diverse states of Rajasthan and Kerala, two of India’s most visited tourist destinations. In addition to my personal connection to them, their climate, culture and distinct sense of aesthetic is unique, serving as the perfect inspiration for the collection.
How did you condense the essence of a city into the edit?
Ashiesh Shah: My journey and work at the Atelier aims at discovering the local culture and minimalism from the region and presenting it with a contemporary flair. From the traditional Kerala Kasavu to the Gotta Patti from Rajasthan, the collection beautifully captures and highlights distinct elements from the region.
How different / similar is this collection from the regular Ritu Kumar aesthetic?
Amrish Kumar: Ritu Kumar Home extends the brand’s DNA of craftsmanship into pieces for the home. The brand is about preserving our design legacy while offering a more contemporary version of it. Similarly, this collection is inspired by travel and the country’s diverse heritage. Each element in the new collection perfectly displays a minimal aesthetic with simplistic details and a hint of texture. The products are playful and beautiful, yet versatile and global.
What is wabi-sabi and how does it make its way in the collection?
Ashiesh Shah: My work is strongly rooted in the Japanese philosophy of ‘Wabi-Sabi,’ describing beauty in imperfection. The collection encapsulates the essence of the finished and unfinished through its simplicity, celebrating handmade processes and fine craftsmanship. For instance, the subtle and minimal Cochin cushions inspired by the Kerala Kasavu captures the unfinished through its off-centre, one-sided embroidery in gold. Similarly, the cushions from the Jaisalmer Collection are skilfully hand-stitched using the kantha embroidery to represent the sand dunes in hues of beige and brown. The Cochin tableware in kansa also exudes a certain character built through its rich material.
What are some of your favourites from the collection? Why?
Amrish Kumar: Each collection is unique and brings out a new dimension to one’s home space. All the 3 collections are my absolute favourite as they exude a sense of timelessness and neutrality thereby being well suited for all age brackets, very much in tune with the current modern lifestyle. The ﬂuidity of these collections enables it to be mixed and matched with existing design objects. It is a quick way to spruce up one’s home or lend a new aesthetic to its interior environment.
Ashiesh Shah: The Cochin bolster cushion with the handle is convenient and practical to use. This cushion in off-white and gold is inspired from traditional Kerala Kasavu, the bowls in hues of blue and pink inspired from the tents of Rajasthan, from the Amer collection. Also, the Amer Velvet and gotta patti bed linen, which embodies richness and royalty is synonymous with the historical cultural heritage of Rajasthan with modernity.