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Art, fashion and design come together in Rooshad Shroff’s limited-edition marble plates

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From Christian Louboutin to Bijoy Jain — architect Rooshad Shroff brings together 12 of the biggest names in fashion, art and design for The Gyaan Project

A series of 120 marble plates are on sale right now. Browse, and you’ll spot Christian Louboutin’s iconic red heel, Pritzker-winner BV Doshi’s monochromatic faces, even Manish Arora’s technicolour hearts — all picked out in semi-precious stones, coloured onyxes, and marble inlay. The handcrafted limited-edition is a collaboration between Mumbai-based architect-designer Rooshad Shroff and 12 heavyweights from fashion, art and architecture.

Not surprisingly, six of the 12 are from fashion (yes, it includes Sabyasachi Mukherjee). After all, Shroff, who designs French luxury maison Hermès’ windows, has always been interested in it. But for this project, his intent was to see how different creative minds would look at a traditional craft like marble inlay. “Having people with absolutely diverse points of view approaching this technique can reinterpret the traditional know-how in a much more contemporary way,” he says.

It was also a sure-shot way of drawing attention, and funds, to his non-profit initiative, The Gyaan Project. In partnership with Citta Foundation — an Indo-American charity that works towards providing education for underprivileged children — proceeds from the sale will go towards the construction of The Rajkumari Ratnavati School for girls in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

One of T Venkanna’s designs being translated on to marble

One of T Venkanna’s designs being translated on to marble  

Prints please

In the works for almost two years, the collection reflects the defined styles of each designer. Architect Bijoy Jain’s minimalism comes out in a pair of cat-like eyes; couturiers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla immortalise the lotus pond motif they created in 1993; and artist Atul Dodiya’s politics seeps through in a tussle between man and nature. “I also brought in two youngsters, Tanya Goel and T Venkanna, too, because they are great upcoming artists, have a big following and I really love their work,” says Shroff.

The brief to all of them was simple: the drawing should be for an 18” square or circle, and they could choose the colours from a library of over 50 materials, which included everything from lapis lazuli, malachite, mother of pearl and red onyx, to local marbles like the green Udaipur and black Bheslana. “We had to add a few different shades, especially while working on Tanya’s and Manish’s. And I had to scout to find the darker tone of red marble for Christian’s shoes.”

An artisan piecing together Manish Arora’s intricate plate

An artisan piecing together Manish Arora’s intricate plate  

When the hand rules

A small team of eight to 10 artisans — all from one family in Agra — worked on the plates. “This project has been in my head for a while; in fact, that’s why I started doing marble inlay. My earlier collections [in 2017, 2018 and the most recent collab with designers Saaksha & Kinni and lifestyle store, Clove, earlier this year] was to fine-tune the craftsmanship to get to this level for this project,” he says, explaining how complex the techniques used are. “A plate like Manish’s, technique wise, was the most challenging. It needed a trained artisan to bring in the highest level of precision because it is like a technicolour jigsaw.” Another challenge was rendering the fine lines and facial expressions of BV Doshi’s design.

Shroff admits the project also opened up a completely new vocabulary of inlay for him, helping him train his eye better. “Earlier, for my geometric designs, I didn’t really focus on things like the directionality of the grain. But if you see Venkanna’s plate, the grains had to flow like the veins of the body. So even the picking and placement of the stones were thought out meticulously.”

Atul Dodiya’s white Makrana marble plate being assembled

Atul Dodiya’s white Makrana marble plate being assembled  

Edition wise

Each designer has an edition of 10 plates — some incorporating a single design, while others, like Venkanna, with a total of five. The first nine plates of each will be sold online in phases of three, till December 20, while the tenth plate, along with two unique pieces by Louboutin and Goel, will be presented in a closed auction to be hosted by Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Isha Ambani Piramal on December 21 in Mumbai.

Scroll down for the final designs:

Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s black Bheslana marble plate with a lotus pond motif — with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s black Bheslana marble plate with a lotus pond motif — with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Anamika Khanna’s black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Anamika Khanna’s black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Atul Dodiya’s white Makrana marble plate with red onyx and coloured marble inlay

Atul Dodiya’s white Makrana marble plate with red onyx and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Bijoy Jain’s monochrome eyes — white Makrana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Bijoy Jain’s monochrome eyes — white Makrana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

BV Doshi’s challenging marble plate with faces — black Bheslana with white Makrana stone inlay

BV Doshi’s challenging marble plate with faces — black Bheslana with white Makrana stone inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles are inlaid in these black Bheslana marble plates with semi precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles are inlaid in these black Bheslana marble plates with semi precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Manish Arora’s technicolour hearts — black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Manish Arora’s technicolour hearts — black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Olympia Le-Tan’s elegant white Makrana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Olympia Le-Tan’s elegant white Makrana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Sabyasachi’s ode to the Taj in black Bheslana with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Sabyasachi’s ode to the Taj in black Bheslana with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Sussanne Khan’s black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Sussanne Khan’s black Bheslana marble plate with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Tanya Goel’s trio of white Makrana marble plates with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Tanya Goel’s trio of white Makrana marble plates with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

Four of T Venkanna’s five black Bheslana marble plates, with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay

Four of T Venkanna’s five black Bheslana marble plates, with semi-precious stones and coloured marble inlay   | Photo Credit: Ravi Mistry

The plates in the three editions are priced ₹1 lakh, ₹1.25 lakh and ₹1.5 lakh. For details, contact gyaanproject@rooshadshroff.com or log on to citta.org

Meanwhile, Shroff’s enjoying the Hermes dream

It may not be overt, but the designer’s association with fashion crops up quite frequently. Like the whimsical windows he creates for French luxury brand Hermes, at the Mumbai flagship in Horniman Circle. Working off a global theme (for 2019, it is Dream), Shroff has fun with each iteration — it changes every three months — because it is a different way of seeing design; you can be absurd and still create a sense of curiosity in people. The current window is his ‘dream’ of Hermes’ Life on Mars. Check out his Instagram, @rooshadshroff, to see how he incorporates light, movement and fashion.

And designing a museum on wheels

Another project that Shroff is working on, which ties back to education, is a museum bus for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. The custom-built vehicle — they bought a chassis and built on it — is designed to take travelling exhibitions to remote parts of Maharashtra, where children aren’t exposed to the idea of a museum. “The design is simple and straightforward, and keeps in mind that kids [between five and 15 years] will be viewing it. So, I’ve worked with their heights, viewing distance, and proper circulation [of kids entering and leaving] to allow as much of a museum feel as you can get within the confines of a vehicle,” he says. “The challenge was fitting in as many displays as possible, and yet make it such that people can walk through easily.”

Painted in shades of white and grey, it has mood and accent lighting, window displays (so that when it is parked, one can see certain works), different vitrines for flexible showcasing, and tech for audio-visual and digital media. The bus is slated to be launched later this month.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 7:23:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/luxury/rooshad-shroff-combines-art-fashion-and-design-for-his-new-limited-edition-marble-plates/article30159368.ece

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