Luxury’s laughter challenge
For brother-sister duo Ashish Bajoria and Suman Kanodia, the idea of starting Scarlet Splendour Designs Pvt. Ltd, a luxury design company that appeals to an international clientele, emerged when they were doing up the interiors of their house a little over three years ago.
From an early age, the siblings were fond of collecting art, artefacts and curios from their travels, and would also often request designers to make custom pieces for them. One such designer who was commissioned was Matteo Cibic from Italy who is now one of the three international designers on board the two-year-old company.
“There are no Indian luxury design brands. Most companies here are either suppliers to global brands or there are designers as brands themselves,” said Bajoria, who showcased the first collection by Cibic at design gallery Spazio Rossana Orlandi at the Milan Design Week in 2015.
The gallery is named after its owner Rossana Orlandi who was called “The Queen of Design” by ‘The New York Times’ a couple of years back. Orlandi is known for her keen eye in discovering some of the biggest names in contemporary design like Dutch designers Piet Hein Eek, Nacho Carbonell, Maarten Baas, Scholten and Baijings, and Spanish designer Jaime Hayon.
With Scarlet Splendour, Bajoria and Kanodia are trying to add humour to luxury. So a chest of drawers in its Vanilla Noir collection is called a Trip to the Moon and looks like a giant pinball, or something out of an Extra Terrestrial movie, even a round capsule with a nose. “It’s a kind of fantastical piece which sets you thinking,” says Bajoria, explaining that the pieces may also have certain flaws as they are handmade.
Since inception, the company has created 10 collections that include furniture, lights, accessories and artefacts. The Terra collection, for instance, has a piece with an Italian version of the Indian ‘matka’ (pot) but made of brass. The Mira collection is influenced by Roman flora, with floral patterns made of tulips and roses.
Its Fools’ Gold collection is made of solid brass and appeals to people in the Middle East and Russia whereas the Vanilla Noir collection by Cibic, which won the Elle Décor International Design Award in the Young Talent category last year, has been well received in the UK market.
The idea is to partner with global designers and produce across the world. So, the carpets are made in Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh and in Nepal. The ceramic lights are produced in Vicenza, a north-eastern province of Italy known for ceramics and glass, while brass furniture is made in India. Prices start at Rs.10,000 and can go up to Rs.20 lakh.
“We are not limiting ourselves to one geography and are looking at the best available producers,” says Bajoria, and adds that each piece has a story and can be handed down from one generation to the next.
Their collections are already being showcased globally in Taiwan, Chile, Kuwait, Rome, St Tropez and Milan. The company partners with RubyLUX, an online luxury design portal. “By end of this fiscal year, we will have 25 stores around the world,” says Bajoria, while in India the collections will be showcased at Le Mill in Mumbai.
What’s helping Bajoria are his strategy skills and experience that he acquired from his primary business—an engineering company his grandfather bought from the British—which he has been heading for the last 20 years. His sister is the creative brain, a trained and experienced interior designer.
Besides the relentless passion to get things done at breakneck speed, Bajoria is keen on associating with global luxury brands to bring them to India. He already represents Gufram, an Italian furniture company known for its quirky and pop designs. “We are not sleeping,” quips Bajoria, and adds that he wants to address every market opportunity possible. It helps that his clients are reaching out to him and it’s not the other way round.