Fort Kochi in Kerala, Amer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan served as muse for the line
The whites and golds of Kerala’s mundum neriyathum, the lush blues and pinks of Amer’s walls, and the shades of brown of Jaisalmer’s deserts have all made its way to the first Ritu Kumar Home x Atelier Ashiesh Shah collab. The collection of tableware, wallpaper and soft furnishings derive inspiration from both travel and India’s diversity in equal measure.
“I am a very visual person; I travel with my eyes,” begins Ashiesh. “These places [Amer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, and Kochi in Kerala] inspired me: the silhouettes of coconut trees and the lines on the roads of Fort Kochi, the sand dunes and camels of Jaisalmer. I captured the ‘flowy-ness’ of the dunes — but change the colour, and it could be underwater.”
The award-winning ‘interior architect’, whose clients include Bollywood’s Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, and Arjun Rampal, usually custom designs for individual projects. This is the first time he has collaborated with another label.
“Ashiesh is well-known for his modern interpretation of indigenous aesthetics and art forms,” shares Amrish Kumar, Director and Creative Director of Ritu Kumar (and the designer’s son), adding that he had put forward the idea of a collab during a conversation way back in 2019. “He has designed a collection that captures the three places’ essential cultural aesthetic and mood. It’s familiar and rooted, while being forward-looking and clean.”
The three muses
Ritu Kumar launched her debut homeware line (with kansa cutlery, ikat cushion covers, and table linen with Mughal prints) two years ago, bringing her history as a crafts revivalist and celebrity wardrobe staple into our living spaces. This weight of nostalgia carries forward into this collab, too.
The brief to Ashiesh, however, was simple: a collection that would be “an extension of their [Ritu Kumar’s] language with my perspective”. After initial workshops with the veteran designer — which served as a deep dive into her creative orientation, knowledge and, in a literal sense, her archive of textiles — he got a sense of the direction she wanted the collection to take.
The common ground for the duo was the shared ethos of their brands: their belief in the crafts and traditions of India. Choosing Amer, Jaisalmer and Kochi happened quite naturally; Ashiesh had just travelled to these places in 2019 when the discussions started. Memories of what he had seen and experienced there were fresh in his mind. And once the designing was done, Ritu Kumar made the edits. “The decisions on what textile — cotton, linen, velvet — to integrate with what product, which artists to work with were all hers,” says Shah.
Collaborations such as these are important. “These allow us to reimagine Indian design in a manner that suits the tastes and preferences of today’s consumers while honouring our heritage,” explains Amrish. “Furthermore, it allows us to take our collection to a wider audience — there is something for every design appetite in this collection.”
That’s not surprising because, as Ashiesh concludes, “Once I put on my artist’s hat… I was the buyer and the designer!”
Priced between ₹990 and ₹22,000, the collection — with the jewel tones of the Chandbagh line, the sandy hues of the Desert line, and the lush Cochin line, with its hat tip to banana leaves and naalukettu architecture — is available online @ritukumar.com, and at select stores across India.
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