De­signer Velji in­spired by his roots

Calgary Herald - - NEW HOMES - AN­DREA COX

As Cal­gary-based in­te­rior de­signer Aly Velji can at­test, there is noth­ing quite as sat­is­fy­ing as get­ting to the open­ing per­for­mance of a much-an­tic­i­pated artis­tic en­deav­our.

Velji re­cently launched a new fur­ni­ture col­lec­tion, one that was two years in the mak­ing. The cocre­ated col­lec­tion — Velji part­nered with Cana­dian bou­tique furnishing re­tailer, Mo­bilia — hit the de­sign stage mid-Septem­ber at the Van­cou­ver In­te­rior De­sign Show.

“It’s been so ex­cit­ing, and al­ready we have got­ten such great feed­back,” says Velji.

In­spired by the ex­otic mys­tery and sump­tu­ous es­thetic of In­dia, the 15-piece col­lec­tion, aptly coined Mod­ern In­dia, en­cap­su­lates much of Velji’s de­sign sen­si­bil­ity. He’s kept the em­bel­lish­ments sim­ple, with stream­lined mid-cen­tury bravado in­spir­ing the lines, while lux­u­ri­ous ma­te­ri­als take it to the next level.

The sleek patina of bronze pairs with unique mar­bles, and tex­ture and pat­tern find ex­pres­sion in each piece with keen jux­ta­po­si­tions of tex­tiles, woods, nat­u­ral stones and met­als.

Some of the pieces are del­i­cate, while oth­ers are rich and mul­ti­lay­ered, but all of them are el­e­gant.

The col­lec­tion’s gen­e­sis be­gan in 2017, on a chilly, slushy Toronto day in early Jan­uary, over lunch at the down­town celebrity haunt, Mo­mo­fuko, where Velji and Jo­hannes Kau, pres­i­dent of the 66-year-old fam­ily run busi­ness Mo­bilia, be­gan toss­ing around ideas, be­gin­ning the con­ver­sa­tion.

Within weeks, sketches had been etched for the ini­tial five pieces of the col­lec­tion and Velji and Kau were on a flight des­tined for Jaipur, In­dia, a city within the province of Velji’s an­ces­tral home (his great grand­par­ents were born here).

The goal was to man­u­fac­ture all of the items in In­dia, us­ing lo­cal crafts­man and ar­ti­sans.

And cer­tainly there is noth­ing like a stroll through the bazaars and mar­ket­places of In­dia, with the sights, sounds, colours and hus­tle and bus­tle to up the in­spi­ra­tion ante.

“When we got there I came across all of these beau­ti­ful ex­otic mar­bles — emer­ald greens, burnt oranges — with so much char­ac­ter and depth, re­ally bring­ing in that In­dian cul­ture and her­itage,” re­calls Velji.

Sim­i­larly Velji took note of an­cient weav­ing tech­niques in­cor­po­rat­ing pen­dant shapes and del­i­cate sym­me­try.

“We were so in­spired that the col­lec­tion grew from five pieces to 15,” says Velji.

With San­skrit names like Suki (beloved), Surya (sun), and Satya (pure), each piece res­onates with the ethos of the ex­otic.

Like their names, these pieces are unique; each one is an orig­i­nal.

“Some­one could get just one piece from the col­lec­tion and it would be a stand­out in their home,” says Velji.

The de­signs are also easy on the pock­et­book.

“I think good de­sign should be for ev­ery­one. So price point was re­ally im­por­tant to me. I wanted to cre­ate a col­lec­tion that was at­tain­able,” says Velji.

Al­though there isn’t a brick and mor­tar Mo­bilia store­front in Western Canada — all eight stores are clus­tered in On­tario and Que­bec — the Mod­ern In­dia col­lec­tion can be pur­chased on­line at mo­


Cal­gary-based in­te­rior de­signer Aly Velji de­signed a new line of fur­ni­ture for Mo­bilia.

The pieces in the el­e­gant Mod­ern In­dia col­lec­tion have sim­ple em­bel­lish­ments and are easy on the pock­et­book.

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