The Ranas of Kachchh

I love India! Its the very basis of all the creative work that i do… yet, I also love multiculturalism and so I forever delve into other cultures and pick elements  from them and then infuse them with elements from India to create an all new experience. My current collection, THE RANAS OF KACHCHH is a medley of influences from the Ranas of Nepal and the Nomads of Kachchh (Kutch) in Gujarat, India. Thought I’d post some images of a recent couture shoot that we did in Jaisalmer, at the fabulous Suryagarh Hotel. I’ve written about Jaisalmer and the Suryagarh in earlier posts (so please do go back to them to learn more about both), but these images, which i thoroughly enjoyed making demanded to be shared. The clothes and the location both celebrate my core ethos, that of the Royal Nomad.

Blessed to be born in India… I never have to worry about running out of inspiration… ever!

 

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Gulistan~A modern Romance.

Perhaps the most amazing part about creativity is it’s lack of boundaries. This can often be misinterpreted as lack of focus too but essentially this is really about man stretching himself to create beauty to the best of his ability, to surprise himself and others… to celebrate the gift that he has been bestowed with, as much and for as long as he can.

Dream! And however much anyone may dissuade you and push practicality down your throat, don’t stop! Thats where it all begins… but then realisation of the dream too is a must. In truth, the unfulfilled dream is merely a result of giving up too soon… of reaching the door at the end of the passage and turning back simply because you failed to see the key in the dark. Looking back at my own journey, i started with oils in school, was separated from art in my 4 years of commerce college, only to run back into its warm embrace in the guise of fashion, somewhere along the line i discovered photography or rather, the art of making images; around the same time as brand JJ VALAYA, we ventured into Tapestries, Furniture, Interiors, Jewellery, Wedding Design and finally our most recent creative outburst, Tiles!

I personally think creativity is often vanquished by commerce, and though commercial success is somewhat mandatory for a sense of self appreciation and sustenance, it is also the sword that could strike too soon and too fast. Guarding oneself is not easy, but if you’re smart enough, you’ll figure out a way to balance both… just don’t sacrifice one for the other… both must and can co-exist.

So firstly, I’d like to get my design ethos out of the way. Without a doubt, I am a modern maximalist. I celebrate both, the old and the new and derive sheer joy from playing with contradictions.

Creating wall-art (Tiles somehow just doesn’t cut it for me) is a process i’ve truly enjoyed over the years. From the finest of tapestry crafted painstakingly by hand to the beautiful GULISTAN SERIES of tiles (made in association with FCML), creating art for something that surrounds us (walls do, don’t they?) is always a wonderful labour of love. Inspired by Mughal flowers, this 3 part series interprets the Islamic flower in 3 variations with the signature VALAYA leaf chevron as its common thread. I think its vey important for the world to not lose the past in the quest of overt minimalism; i truly believe that a perfect environment (i’m talking about the one we physically create for ourselves) is one which makes you happy and gracefully grows with you in years. I’ve also believed that the past and the present must co-exist in any modern space and some of the most dramatic spaces i’ve seen uphold this belief as well. Most importantly, when we integrate history into the now, we keep it alive for the generations to follow… we keep a story alive for them… we keep a romance kindled.

Just think about it, when a child, years later asks you about something overtly modern and minimalistic you created or acquired now, which could well be the rage now (as this principle applies to the Arts as well), what story would you tell him? My guess is there would be little to share as the fad would have died and with it any semblance of romance that may have existed then… but if you had to answer the same question on Da Vinci or on Mughal miniatures or about some historic palace, every brush stroke and every brick in the wall would have a story to tell. Point being, embrace the new because its fresh and exciting, but at the same time, don’t forget the past and gently make it a part of your story.

I can assure you this… the quality of conversations that you’ll have years later would have become so much more enriched.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Colour in Monochrome

 

Finally returned to Delhi, post a 3 hour flight and a 3 kilometre walk!! (1.5 kilometres each in Dubai & Delhi Airports…why??). Anyways, the day trip done and what was my key take away from this trip? Discovering a brilliant new development called City Walk right in the heart of Dubai! I simply could not stop making images, which, for me is a benchmark of the degree of interest something or someone has generated in me! A clever mix of luxury high street and an enclosed mall environment, City Walk is undoubtedly one of the finest I’ve seen in a long time. Its new (well..its Dubai after all!) so a significant part still remains to be inhabited yet, I have to admit, from a design perspective, this visit is not one you will forget in a hurry and in fact, i can assure you that you will keep going back for more.

What’s wonderful is the refined use of a controlled, almost monochromatic palette which essentially revolves around shades of Grey and Ivory with accents of burnished rust and ochre… the beauty of architectural details and the stunning surprises that every turn presents ensure that you experience all, from a LA style Rodeo Drive boulevard to the welcoming cocoon of an intimate yet posh mall. Nature then does the rest by bringing in the magnanimity of the sky (and of course, i am sure, other elements such as rain and heat as well on other days). But on this one particular day, it was almost as if ‘the’ perfect weather had been created specially for me to be able to discover this new gem.

For now, I guess I’ll leave it to the images to explain to you what I really mean… Shopping and Eating in Dubai has a new address, and this one is the one you’ll probably never want to forget!

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Dub-eye

 

I’m on a one day trip to Dubai today, and as luck would have it, the skies are dotted with pregnant clouds with the sun’s rays trying to sneakingly break through here and there. It’s easily amongst the most beautiful days that I’ve witnessed in my over 40 visits to Dubai in the past several years. The juxtaposition of modern man made structures rising from the desert sands trying desperately to embrace, and perhaps rival God created Prussians and teals against the sky make for surreal imagery and indeed, awe inspiring visuals.

I’ve always called Dubai “India’s best kept city”, simply because of the overwhelming number of Indians that have made it their home. Yet, it is also an evolving modern city and it is quite remarkable how its rulers have created something so modern and incredibly advanced in the middle of a barren desert. That said, Dubai has never quite fascinated me as a city simply because of its unfortunate lack of character… you know…the kind that one sees in abundance in Europe and Asia; and what disappoints me more is because its not because the UAE does not have history to fall back on. However, although stone tools have been found at many archaeological sites, little is known about the UAE’s early inhabitants. Many ancient towns in the area were trading centres between the Eastern and Western worlds. The remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp, dated at 7000 BC, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city’s present coastline. Pre-Islamic ceramics have also been found from the 3rd and 4th centuries. Still, this past is not celebrated as much as it should be in present day Dubai… I’ve always felt that its culture could have been much better integrated into the mega city that Dubai is fast becoming.

But for now, I’d rather appreciate the effort that has been put in to create what has been created and revel in the fact that i could capture the images that i could today!

Man, in his throes of modern acceptance, may have chosen to neglect the past of this great region, but God, thankfully, never fails to complete the picture by blessing it with nature’s unlimited bounty.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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The Soul in the Space

 

When it comes to making images, I’m equally passionate about people and places as subjects. THE SOUL IN THE SPACE is my second photographic show and is both, more abstract and more personal. The focus is on details of architecture shot in three locations that connect with my own biography: Jodhpur (the city of my birth), Chandigarh (the only city designed by Le Corbusier and where I was raised and spent some of my best years), and Dufftown in Scotland (where I first discovered architectural photography during an artist’s residency at the Glenfiddich Distillery). In this show, I chose to concentrate on mass, line and texture in both black & white and colour works, composing starkly dynamic scenarios that approximate a painterly aesthetic but also unmoor the subject from its original context. My palette is purposefully reductive yet highly sumptuous, relishing the much to be discovered in stone, metal and concrete, three materials that I associate with greatly.

The show is currently on exhibit at ID 2017 (India Design) organised by Elle Decor in Delhi. The selection of prints on view range from large-scale blow-ups that communicate a monumental grandeur to sets of smaller prints that are grouped together, creating syncopated rhythms.

If in Delhi, do drop by… It’s on till the 19th of February.

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Blown away

A few years back, when I was involved in a rather prestigious luxury project, I used to make multiple visits to Murano in Italy; more specifically to the factories of the finest blown glass experts in the world. Needless to say, the legacy of some of those centuries old brands justified the incredible quality and craftsmanship of the products (one of the brands i was working with had made the first lens for Galileo!). To top it all, the mystique of Venice has always held me in her sway (I am indeed an absolute die-hard admirer of Italy).

But much closer home, in the by-lanes of bustling Delhi, I often experience a similar sense of excitement; when my dear friends, Gautam Seth and Prateek Jain choose to enthrall me (and many more) with their intense ideology and sense of scale in blown glass lighting intsallations. The duo run a brand called Klove but more importantly, between the two, there also runs an incredible amount of refined creativity. It’s not easy to talk about their work, because the visual experience far surpasses my verbal monologue so I suppose I’m just going to have to let my pictures do all the talking.

Keep the magic alive boys… the gullies of Delhi may never surpass the romance of the canals of Venice, but the drama of what you create comes teasingly close to what the Venetians offer…

Viva l’India?

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Art.itecture

My friend, Abhinav Khandelwal is a businessman and runs a company called FCML which primarily makes its money out of selling to a person his most private space, his bathroom. But Abhinav is also what I call an intellectual businessman and is forever ideating and creating new experiences which celebrate the world of Architecture and Interiors in a holistic embrace. His latest baby being held in Delhi is an interesting one called the Indian Arch Dialogue; a unique forum which involves talks by modern and contemporary design professionals and my favorite part, showcases sketches (and photographs) by them of their projects as and when they were conceptualised (or realised). In essence, these are the very seeds and observing them makes for a fascinating walk, one that allows you to get a peek inside the minds of many greats. I’ve always believed that the artist residing within the architect is undeniably the reason why great structures become great … technical knowledge and structural perfection are superseded only by the desire to create original and create timeless; the journey beginning within the spirit, being visually interpreted using the humble pencil/pen and paper and finally taking shape in concrete and other man made materials.

Some trivia: Amazingly enough, whilst this show is on at 1 AQ, in a beautiful gallery, under a magnificent Banyan tree, it is also right next door to another architectural marvel from another era, the Qutub Minar. I find it fascinating that at the very same spot where today, the scribbles and words of current design icons are resonating, the Mamluk ruler, Qutub-ud-din-Aibak would have stood and watched his dream take shape centuries back.

Did he know that he was creating history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site by constructing the world’s tallest rubble masonry minaret? Probably not.

Greatness in design is born out of dreams and conviction and is perhaps the only mantra that one needs to practice… everything else simply follows. Perhaps it would be wise to remember that it is after all, the extra in the ordinary that evokes the resultant conjoined word, the one that creators yearn to hear … This extra is also known as one’s spirit.

Pamper it.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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