Tuesday, September 26 2017

Accessories

All Wrapped Up

Gunjan Gupta
 
Innovative and experimental, international designer Gunjan Gupta is a total Mumbai girl at heart. The founder of Wrap Design and the only Indian designer to have showcased her work at the Milan Furniture Fair, she speaks to Kuhu Kochar on the concept of ‘real luxury’.
 
She is humbled when she thinks about the possibilities of design. A believer in the co-existence of luxury and sustainability, Gunjan Gupta is quite the girl on a mission and literally wants to wrap the world with the luxury only a ‘Made in India’ product can offer.
 
How did Wrap conceptualise?
Wrap is India’s fi rst contemporary luxury and lifestyle brand established on socially and environmentally sustainable principles. I founded Wrap in 2006 in Delhi as a response to the absence of internationally relevant Indian product design that explored the potential of luxury handicraft. Wrap seeks to revive and invigorate India’s traditional crafts, positioning them at the heart of the contemporary home.
 
What about the transition from interior design to furniture?
I have a background in interior design but I found it uninspiring to articulate a client’s vision of interiors, which generally was a very tried and tested one, experienced mostly through luxury travels outside of India. I wanted more creative freedom and could not understand why Indian design was absent on the global platform. Indian furniture was an obvious choice given the absolute dearth of it and I went onto pursue my Masters in Furniture Design at Central St Martins in London.
 
Why the name ‘Wrap’?
When we wrap something we attach a new set of values to it – as articulated by the great living artist Christo who ‘wraps’ architecture as a way of urging the audience to view things in a newfound way. It is the premise of our company and what we have set out to achieve. Indian luxury craft and the idea of ‘Made in India’ needs to be repositioned and that is what we have always aimed at doing. Wrap derives its name from the silver wrapping of thrones – an ancient luxury craft.
 
Describe the collection you showcased at Milan.
The Milano 2012 Collection is a narrative of Indian culture that repositions the ‘Made in India’ brand. The collection consists of my iconic designs that have been re-interpreted to make them easy-to-use and reasonably priced. Each piece can be dismantled and instead of using gold and silver, we have used materials like wood, high-quality veneer, stone and alloy metal.
 
What do you think is the urgency when it comes to Indian craftsmen – exposure or uplift?
Exposure and a contemporary plug-in is essential to raise aspiration within artisanal communities. It is very important to draw the next generation to take up the craft.
 
What is luxury to you?
Luxury to me as of today is a highly commercial word. I am more interested in the idea of it and have tried to reveal it through the Indian narrative in my work. I believe that India is ready to question what they defi ne as real luxury. Is it merely ‘branded’ and ‘imported’ or more?
 
What changes would you like in the Indian design scenario?
Defi nitely the engagement of institutions and the education – I think they need to be more global. The Indian design scene is yet to break out of their comfort zone based on functionality and aesthetics. The design sensibility in our country is all about sticking to conventionally safe ideas and extremely decorative. I feel we need to become more experimental and open up to wider horizons and challenges.
 
How does Wrap work on social and environmental sustainability?
Our initiatives on sustainability, while driving our positioning as a provider of luxury products and services, have been quiet emphatic on three core areas: replenishment of resources, revival of legacy artisan workmanship and building supply-chain linkages with those who also believe in socially and environmentally sustainable principles. These are the broad principles by which we ensure that our products and services are engineered to be socially and environmentally sustainable.
 
Do you think the lack of importance given to the indigenous Indian crafts stems from the fact that it is readily available here?
Yes absolutely. That is one of the key drivers for Indian societies to undermine its importance. Most Indian families have a generation of jewellers or tailors and construction workers dedicated to their needs. This is where we become hugely infl uential in sustaining and also undermining their skill base. We need to patronise them to bring the best out of them, like it was done in the earlier days, and not use them for very base functions.
 
Is design merely a tool for decorating or can it make a change socially?
Social sustainability is one of the key drivers of the Wrap philosophy. We are deeply committed to raising the ante for Indian handmade production on a global scale.
 
What are your future plans?
I have just launched the Gunjan Gupta Limited Edition label in Milan at the Salone and have started a gallery collaboration in Milan for worldwide sales. We are establishing the Wrap design gallery in New Delhi and the company is very focused on interior design projects for the hospitality, residential and real-estate segment.
 
Who are the designers or people that inspire you?
I am inspired by visionaries such as Lekha Poddar, PRS Oberoi amongst others who have repositioned the area that they occupy. Thanks to them that we have a home-grown art and hospitality genre that is truly global. I also have great regard for the American philanthropists (there are quite a few) who have integrated their business models with larger social issues.
 
 
 
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Gunjan Gupta
 
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Single-seater Masand couch.
 
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Crystal and wood stools.


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