Hardly a Glass Palace

What do artists feed on when inspirations around them run dry? What is the fodder of their creative
sustenance? What eggs them to pick up from where they last left and move forward creating a song of their own?
On a balmy winter afternoon, as I listened to two artists sitting in an oasis of green amidst the hullabaloo of this very city, I realised that our nests nourish us with warmth and care more often than we would like to acknowledge. It comforts us and gives us that avenue to introspect about our work, life and what really matters to us…
The design fraternity of the country is quite familiar with the power-packed works of light installation artists Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth whose label, Klove Studio broke into people’s consciousness with their work that far surpassed the realm of regular light fittings and chandeliers. In terms of scale, structure and design, their work has always been pretty awe-inspiring and surreal.
Klove Studio is a rare instance of how a long friendship can famously culminate into a profitable creative profession. Prateek, a business graduate from Delhi, and Gautam, a chemical engineer from Ambala, were family friends. Thirteen years back both recognised the that similar design aesthetics occupied their artistic faculties and Klove came into being with decorative light installations and home accessories. As a boutique label, they combine glass, ceramic, steel, brass and stone to construct shapes that make a statement. A few years back, the duo conceptualised a show where guests walked into dark rooms illuminated by only Klove lights. It was a magical setting that left an indelible impression. Lights that attain a sculptural beauty and opulent design vocabulary, Prateek and Gautam’s works have always, always been remarkable.
That piqued our interest about how these two artists liked their home to be. Would it be as larger-than-life as their work. Would the space blur the lines between reality and fantasy? The bubble needed pricking…
From what we saw, and were delightfully surprised, the boys like a clear demarcation between work and home. The flamboyance of their work is beautifully contrasted with a cosy and lived-in aura in the space they retire to. With contemporary and Scandinavian influences in the décor, monochromes ruled by grey, olive, nude and white with highlights of black and chestnut, the home emanates a warm vibe that would make you want to curl up in one corner with a mug of hot cocoa. We note the smart Andrew Martin chairs amidst the furniture that’s mostly from Apartment 9.
“The city can get a little uninspiring at times. This is where we come back to rejuvenate ourselves. It’s like our private oasis,” says Prateek, sipping on a Madurai masala chai amidst the verdant foliage in his balcony as the windchimes fill in with its soothing background score. Built by his grandfather, this three-storeyed property also houses their atelier that the city’s connoisseurs love frequenting. Considering the duo have a knack for spiritual iconography, many of the artworks in their home bent towards the religious--- a Bhutanese Tara print, a silver Krishna statue from Nathdwara, an antique Pichwai painting and so on. The temple, replete with stencilled walls remind one of the colourful South Indian temple interiors. “We love that part of the country and keep going back because of the peace we derive from the place. It is a region where the culture and heritage of our land is best preserved,” says Gautam.

With keen eye for art and design, the duo admits that they live to travel and eat (we soak in the nuggets about their gastronomical experiences in Copenhagen). And from their sojourns they have picked up art that has always caught their fancy. Be it the pretty screen from San Francisco’s China Town that hands from the bed post, the Moulin Rouge poster signed by Baz Luhrman himself or the matchbox installation which is a clever ode to famous contemporary artists. We note the curious artwork done with mirrors and which bears the face of tribal women. “That was gifted to us by Malini Ramani, a dear friend,” they acknowledge.
The art is quirky but not overpowering. For instance, the canvas by Shilpa Gupta that is in great conjunction with the soft colour scheme of the place. But perhaps, amidst all the art on the walls, the best one if the red heart that the duo has created as a centrepiece for the main wall in the living area. “The hues around are purposely kept soft so that the lights do the drama. This red heart installation is an instance,” says Gautam, “I’m very fond of Vincent Van Gogh. May be some day…,” his wish is cut short by Prateek’s wicked but cute, “Yes, after we sell this home…”
Prateek and Gautam started by making small accessories for luxurious homes. Great reviews resulted in them designing light installations for those with a yen for stunning interiors. Their work sells in Dubai, Paris, London and New York. Klove is also a permanent fixture at the Maison & Objet Fair in Paris. Just back from participating at the Trade Fair in Dubai where they showcased their works from their Nordic collection, the duo is currently wrapping up their next collection called Shamanic that will be launched at India Design ID, 2018. Inspired by the Shamans, it promises to be another show of opulent design sensibilities in gold, white and jade. “Glass is our signature. But despite the gypsy overtones, we have played with an elegant and sophisticated air. We are looking forward to the audience reaction,” the duo’s excitement is palpable. 
The boys bring back inspirations from their travels. Like in Turkey, their creativity was piqued by the exquisite architecture of the monuments and minarets. From Greece, they brought back vignettes of the countryside and nature to use in their work. Ladakh’s awe-inspiring landscape and Vietnam’s topography resulted in jaw-dropping artistry in their works. In 2016, the designers travelled to Scandinavia and came back overawed by the form and function of the designs they witnessed there, to create the Nordic collection.

While we move into the lounge, a quaint and classy set up in beige and white, we revel in the thoughts that the designers share about trends in art and design now. “Trends go in a circle. It’s how artists reinterpret them through their own vision. We are headed towards an era of surrealism,” they say. And just like that we start looking forward to Shamanic, a collection that, we are sure, will once again project the mastery Prateek and Gautam is famous for.  
Photographs: Manoj Kesharwani

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