THE FIRST LADY OF BOL­LY­WOOD

WHAT MAKES GAURI KHAN MORE THAN JUST ANOTHER STAR WIFE?

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - News - By Priya Pathiyan

She glides grace­fully into the room, the one where she en­ter­tains in­ti­mate friends and fam­ily. She wears her Givenchy gown and celebrity sta­tus with a dis­arm­ing child­like charm. It’s the night of Hal­loween and Gauri Khan is vis­i­bly ex­cited as she waits to see the plush­est party of the year, one that she has con­cep­tu­alised for the Lon­don night­club Cirque Le Soir. The sets are lav­ish, with an­gels, de­mons and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

“My team, led by Sh­wetha Se­bas­tian, and I have en­joyed the cre­ative process tremen­dously. It’s deca­dent lux­ury. The theme is Hal­loween so you’ll see installations in­spired by heaven and hell. But mainly, we want peo­ple to look at the per­form­ers as they have spe­cially flown down for this. They are the cen­tre­piece…” says Gauri.

When we at­tend the party later that night, we wit­ness for our­selves how her at­ten­tion to the minu­tiae casts a spell that many oth­ers can only as­pire to.

DE­SIGN WITH AN IN­DIAN SEN­SI­BIL­ITY

De­sign has been in her DNA from the start. “I’ve al­ways en­joyed the cre­ative process,” says Gauri. “Af­ter I re­designed Man- nat, Sus­sanne (Khan) vis­ited and loved it. She had just be­gun her own de­sign work and in­vited me to col­lab­o­rate with her on some projects. I en­joyed do­ing that, and from there be­gan my for­mal jour­ney as a de­signer.”

To­day, in her sub­stan­tial flag­ship store in Juhu, there’s a dis­tinct di­chotomy. “In­dian de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties are now quite in­ter­na­tional. At Gauri Khan De­signs, we have a sec­tion ded­i­cated to our in­ter­na­tional part­ners – Roberto Cavalli and Ralph Lau­ren. There is grow­ing in­ter­est in lux­ury de­sign,” Gauri shares. But there’s an equally good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of In­dian mo­tifs and artists. How integral are these to her dé­cor projects?

“In col­lege I stud­ied art and his­tory. Both had a pro­found im­pact on me. You see that in­flu­ence in my work too,” ex­plains Gauri. “In the col­lec­tion we pre­sented at Mai­son et Ob­jet in Paris (the big­gest global show­case for de­sign in­ter­na­tion­ally), we had ta­bles with prints in­spired by the Konark tem­ple. I want to en­cour­age lo­cal craft in In­dia. We have such a rich her­itage. For in­stance, the ‘Sankhedu’ col­lec­tion had a lot of eth­nic craft from the vil­lage in Gu­jarat that has tra­di­tion­ally spe­cialised in this kind of work.”

Are there sim­ple ways to cel­e­brate In­di­an­ness as a host? Gauri of­fers some sug­ges­tions: “From a dé­cor point of view, you can use In­dian accents in the ta­ble set up. For in­stance, diyas in­stead of can­dles, and tra­di­tional sil­ver carved nap­kin hold­ers, crock­ery with In­dian prints or sil­ver thali placemats, tra­di­tional em­broi­dered nap­kins, tra­di­tional flow­ers such as frangi­pani or mogra in taste­ful ar­range­ments to accentuate the at­mos­phere.”

In­dian de­sign has yet to ful­fil its global po­ten­tial, says Gauri. “There’s a long way to go. I still don’t see as many In­dian names as I’d hoped for in the global de­sign space,” she says. “But there is def­i­nitely an in­creas­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for In­dian craft in col­lab­o­ra­tions. You see some of the stun­ning work Jean-François Lesage is do­ing with In­dian artisans or the chan­de­liers that Regis Mathieu is cre­at­ing with rock crys­tals sourced from In­dia. I’m look­ing for­ward to pre­sent­ing a sig­na­ture line of pre­mium hand-knot­ted car­pets in wool

“IN­DIAN ACCENTS LIKE DIYAS IN­STEAD OF CAN­DLES, SIL­VER THALI PLACEMATS, FLOW­ERS LIKE MOGRA AL­WAYS ACCENTUATE THE AT­MOS­PHERE”

and silk that we are es­pe­cially cre­at­ing for Jaipur Rugs, which will be pre­sented at Mai­son et Ob­jet in Jan­uary 2018.”

LIGHTS... AND AC­TION!

In­ter­na­tional de­sign show­cases such as the Mai­son et Ob­jet are great places to see some of the best in world de­sign, but for Gauri, in­spi­ra­tion comes from ev­ery­where. “Art, his­tory, na­ture, ar­chi­tec­ture... even con­ver­sa­tions,” she says. Her de­sign aes­thetic is hard to de­fine. “Ul­ti­mately, you have to re­mem­ber that you are de­sign­ing for a client. So the aes­thetic de­pends on their vi­sion for the space and oc­ca­sion. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort. Even at our store, we have cre­ated ar­eas with dif­fer­ent feels and aes­thet­ics in terms of lay­outs, ac­ces­sories and back­grounds, to help ideation for our clients.”

But there’s a com­mon thread that binds her eclec­tic chic. Lighting. “I love work­ing with lights,” she ad­mits. “Lights are cen­tral in cre­at­ing am­bi­ence. One of the highlights in the restaurant we re­cently de­signed – Arth, in Mum­bai – is the use of a lot of light installations. There is a gor­geous Rex Di­a­mond Mir­ror in­spired by clas­sic cinema that’s one of my favourites.”

She also has a pen­chant for state­ment pieces. In fact, she tells us how Gauri Khan De­signs it­self was born from a col­lec­tion of pieces that she sourced from across the world, each dis­tinct and uniquely in­spired, some sourced from in­ter­na­tional de­sign con­ven­tions, oth­ers from her travel.

“These unique pieces can in­spire the de­sign for the en­tire space. Many rooms in Man­nat, for in­stance, were de­signed around a spe­cific piece rather than hav­ing the piece fit into a pre-de­signed room,” she says.

Our eyes veer to the stun­ning Devi head by G Ravin­der Reddy that serves as the fo­cal point of the foyer we’re sit­ting in. Gauri Khan is not just about de­sign­ing dé­cor for a liv­ing, but about liv­ing and breath­ing aes­thet­ics ev­ery mo­ment of her life.

“THERE IS AN IN­CREAS­ING AP­PRE­CI­A­TION OF IN­DIAN CRAFT. YOU SEE IT IN THE WORK JEAN-FRAN­COIS LESAGE IS DO­ING WITH IN­DIAN ARTISANS, AND IN THE CHAN­DE­LIERS THAT REGIS MATHIEU IS CRE­AT­ING...”

#De­signDoyenne

Gauri’s black dress is her own

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