My Design is a Reflection of My Creativity: Gauri Khan
Gauri Khan - also known as the better half of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan - carves out her own niche with her furniture line that's all set to go places
Gauri Khan, co-founder of Red Chillies Entertainment, along with her husband, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, always had a passion for design. Her busy Bollywood career, however, did not give her much time to focus on her passion.
But when the star couple decided to redesign Mannat, their sprawling, seaside bungalow at Bandra's Bandstand in Mumbai, she worked with her architect, giving suggestions and implementing them. About five years ago, Sussanne Khan, a close friend and former wife of superstar Hrithik Roshan, invited her to display her first line at her Charcoal Project (Sussanne's luxury and prèt furniture concept design store). Since then, there has been no looking back for Gauri, who continues to produce films, manage Design Cell - a furniture studio in Mumbai - and keep an eye open for stuff that she picks up across the globe during her travels.
Gauri has been invited to show her new line at the prestigious Maison &Objet show in Paris between January 22 and 26, 2016. In Paris recently, she met Régis Mathieu, owner of iconic chandeliers under the Mathieu Lustrerie brand, and Jean-François Lesage, the son of the founder of the prestigious Paris-based House of Lesage, both of who are collaborating with her. "I created this line as I wanted to design a collection that would reflect my sense of creativity and sensibility," says Gauri Khan. "Being invited to be part of this very prestigious fair is recognition that our efforts are in the right direction. The unique creativity at such a forum is exciting."
Excerpts from an interview with the stylish Bollywood producer and designer:
Tell us about your recent visit to Paris.
I like Paris. Maison & Objet Paris is the major event for those working in design, furniture, accessories, textiles etc. It is the ultimate multicultural crossroads of contemporary living, with an emphasis on meetings and exchanges, and shows that welcome exhibitors and visitors from around the world to showcase a comprehensive overview of excellence and innovation and help to share the best of creativity. I am happy to be invited to show my new line at this fair and collaborate with master designers like Régis Mathieu and Frederic Bougeard.
Do run us through your furniture line. When did you conceive of this diversification into furniture and what were the influences?
I've always had a passion for design. But it took commercial form when I was working with my architect Kaif on redesigning Mannat. Sussanne invited me to show my first line at the Charcoal Project. I enjoyed the creative process very much and wanted to do more in that direction. So my studio was born, and it got a great response.
Furniture and home ware were my first ventures in the design space commercially. I've recently done others things like designing two lines for luxury clothes' brand Satya Paul who celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
The spring-summer collection was based on the holiday theme, and titled Tropical Wonder, and the autumn-winter collection is inspired by the intriguing duality of Dutch courtesan Mata Hari.
Have you showcased your furniture line or your other collections at events elsewhere in the world?
This is our first, and we're quite excited to start with Maison & Objet.
Your studio will be completing two years in November. How has the journey been? What were the high points and the low?
They say, love what you do, and you won't have to work a day. My studio has been the culmination of a long-standing passion for interior design, so it's been very satisfying. In fact, we've just set up a new space in Bandra now. I think there have been far more highs than lows for me, mainly because I love what I do. The lows are just opportunities that can be refined into what you can do better in terms of process.
Looking ahead, how do you see it shape up?
We've just collaborated with Trescent Lifestyles, who are the sole distributors for state-of-the-art home-theatre and high-end audio systems of Steinway-Lyngdorf, which is an interesting extension for us.
Will you focus more on furniture in the future?
Yes, I think that will always be the core, but there are, of course, other projects I may do in the space of design depending on how it draws my interest.
Tell us about your presence in Dubai. Do you plan in setting up a showroom there?
I love Dubai, and its people. It's one of my favourite getaways and I have many close friends there. We have so many buyers from Dubai. Each person who buys has specific preferences, and that's why we have an eclectic collection so it can complement the various moods buyers may want to create or enhance in their space. I would love to have a showroom in Dubai at some point.
How much of your time goes into pursuing your passion for design and how much for film production?
Nowadays it's mostly design-based projects, but when a film is on hand then that gets me really busy too.
Will you be spending more time travelling both in India and abroad, looking out for interesting stuff for your studio?
What has been the response of your clients and friends - and, of course, Shah Rukh - to your new foray?
They've all been overwhelmingly supportive! Shah Rukh often stops by the studio and picks up stuff he likes. In fact, we recently styled his office at Red Chillies with furniture and pieces from the studio. There are these tables with his film posters on them which are quite cool.