With his first solo exhibit, Ashiesh Shah seeks to create heirlooms of the future
The architect's new collection brings together Gujarati heritage with a Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic
At the One8 Bungalow in Mumbai, a stark white structure can be seen standing against exposed brick walls. As the sunlight filters in, it seems to be aglow. This is the ‘New Moon’ totem, a six-foot structure that fragments itself into three functional design objects. Made from a single block of stone, it has been inspired by the lingam form. In another corner, in contrast to the pristine white, is the lush, vibrant red ‘Channapatna Totem’, which, as its name suggests, brings together Channapatna beads, Longpi and acrylic. This piece deconstructs into five individual stools. Part of Atelier Ashiesh Shah’s debut solo exhibit, OTLO, currently on view as part of the Mumbai Gallery Weekend, these works effortlessly combine the sculptural with functionality. Edited excerpts from an interview with architect Ashiesh Shah about his new collection:
The collection pairs Gujarati heritage with a Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic. How does OTLO bring together the two influences in its form and function?
The Mumbai Gallery Weekend celebrates artists that come together to narrate tales of evolving aesthetics. Atelier Ashiesh Shah’s debut solo fits in perfectly. Through OTLO, we ponder over art, design and function, their synchronisation and distinction. OTLO, a Gujarati word for threshold, draws from the commonalities of form and function to present these heirlooms of the future. Inspired by the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, these design objects follow a ‘Brutalist Tribal’ characteristic to celebrate beauty in imperfection through a series of handcrafted collectibles.
Stepping into the One8 Bungalow, walking across the OTLA, one can see that the curation has been inspired by the duality of Lord Shiva, whose archetype, the ‘lingam’ is a foundational form for the design objects that empower the karigar and celebrate perfect imperfection.
How does the collection aim to create heirlooms of the future?
At the Atelier, we call our pieces functional sculptures, which have life below the ground, and find completeness through continuity and self-generation. The pieces are timeless and celebrate craftsmanship, making no two pieces alike—each object has its own narrative, imperfections and processes. With a futuristic character and a revived handcrafted process of creation, each object is unique, a heirloom of the future.
How do the ideas of geometry and sustainability run from beginning to end of a particular work?
Every craftsperson and craft village, which we collaborate with, work with local resources that they find readily available. Whether Longpi from Meghalaya or Channapatna from Karnataka, the processes of creation have been perfected over years of refinement and efficient energy utilisation. In addition to sustainability through localisation of resources and using a higher percentage of natural materials, the Atelier also celebrates the revival of craft and craftsmanship through employment and motivational opportunities.
OTLO is being showcased at One8 Bungalow. How does the space enter into a conversation with the collection?
A finished object from the Atelier, juxtaposed against the unfinished surface behind it, celebrates balance, the fine line between perfect imperfection. It is simply a way of life where asperity and asymmetry play a large part in the overall vision of looking for its state of equilibrium. Additionally, The One8 Bungalow is an iconic built form that generates a sentiment of nostalgia, which in turn works in synthesis with the narrative, history and geography of these heirlooms of the future.
OTLO can be seen at the One8 Bungalow, Mumbai, today, after which it can be viewed by appointment.
FIRST PUBLISHED20.01.2021 | 09:00 AM IST