It’s been about a month since interior designer Sussanne Khan displayed her new collection of sculptural furniture and lighting fixtures at the Salone del Mobile 2021, an international design and innovation exhibition in Milan, but her Instagram handle still features posts about the show and the pieces she’s working on for her collaboration with Italian furniture brand Chellini in partnership with the Varisan Group.
At the Salone del Mobile, also known as the ‘supersalone’ curated by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, one could see Italian craftsmanship come together with design from the East in a new collaboration. Khan showcased two-tiered greenhouse side tables, with light blue hues and motifs inspired by dense foliage, and all-gold cocktail tables, which stood out for their neat geometric lines. Also on display were low-set lounge chairs, branch mirrors, and more.
This was part of the VSK Chelini edition, an exclusive collection of furniture and decor conceptualised by Indian interior designer Sussanne Khan for the Italian brand Chelini, which has been producing handcrafted furnishing accessories since 1898. Created in partnership with Vero by the Varisan Group, this collection will be used in luxury homes, hotels, yachts and boutique resorts that this design and project management firm handles globally. Currently the team is working with Khan on new projects in Dubai and Singapore.
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The collection has elements of Khan’s signature aesthetic—a mix of the classic with modern chic. Each piece serves the dual purpose of an objet d’art and a functional furnishing accessory. This selection will also be retailed at her design concept store, The Charcoal Project, which she founded in Mumbai in 2011. Khan feels that the synergy between her aesthetic and Chelini’s design sensibilities are a perfect match. In an exclusive interview, she talks about some of the highlights and what luxury means to her. Edited excerpts:
What was it about Chelini as a brand that appealed to you?
Chelini is a very special and renowned Italian brand, known for its impeccable craftsmanship, which is clean and textured. It can be interpreted as subtle luxury. so the collaboration between Vero Sussanne Khan (VSK) x Chelini went hand in hand, especially with the concepts that we were looking to achieve. The design of every product that we have created is about the same philosophy— quiet, intricate handcrafted luxury.
The focus of the new collection seems to be on geometric lines, neutral tones and warmth. Could you elaborate further on the theme and design?
In this collection, I wanted to bring elements of the mystical world into a modern-day house. My main focus was on three key products: the feather chair, the branch mirror and the chained treasure installation.
The branch mirror is an artistic representation of a surreal golden-branched tree in a forest. This is then assembled together in a natural sculptural way, after which it is electroplated in liquid old gold.
The chained treasure is a representative adaptation of a human artery. As humans, we must conserve and protect our thoughts and actions from being corrupted by negative influences. So, in the installation, the golden chains bind our good energies together while keeping our hearts lit. This is, therefore, our chained treasure, and the installation stands as a metaphor for that.
The feather chair has this talisman of a charm bracelet hanging on its back. The bracelet has a crystal stone encompassed with hand-braided leather in order to attract good energy. All the other products in the collection balance these three focal pieces in terms of colour palette and warm textures.
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury to me is an emotion, which we, as designers, get to express. Design is my tool to create this feeling. In a world filled with uncertainty, we are only in control of what we try to express through our art, with the truest intentions at heart.
Could you elaborate on the process of creating some of the sculptural chairs, light fixtures, such as the chained treasure, and more?
Creating all of this was an incredibly interesting process. I wanted to put together concepts that create emotions. And while doing so, we wanted to use new techniques. The creative process of the chained treasure has been one of my most fulfilling experiences till now. We actually carved out, from clay, a giant artery with exaggerated and textured crevices and valves. Each of those valves had to be put together to be cast in a mould. It was then electroplated, and fitted with automated wiring in order to create the illumination and final finish that we wanted. At the end, the chained treasure was wrapped in 50 meters of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coated gold brass chains.
How does the materiality impact the theme of the collection?
Materiality helps bring out the expression within each of the products. Today, as we speak, having a thought and trying to adapt it through our imagination, may only help us get by in life, with a little more fun.