Inside the Imaginative World Of Design Maestro Ashiesh Shah

"Artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Lucio Fontana and James Turrell find their philosophies reiterated through the objects helping me view every project from an artist's lens," says Shah

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Hailing from a family of doctors, Mumbai-based interior designer and architect Ashiesh Shah initially geared towards dentistry but eventually realised that the source of his true inspiration was the creative sphere. "I remember travelling to Europe, visiting various cities and staying inspired through my sojourn. With time, I gravitated towards architecture and design and there has been no looking back ever since," he says.

Ashiesh Shah

After working in New York City as an interior architect for a few years, Shah launched his own design firm, Atelier Ashiesh Shah, in India in 2017. Transitioning from interior to product design was a natural progression, propelled by his multiple collaborations with Urban Ladder, Jaquar and the like and his years of designing custom furniture pieces for his clientele, including Bollywood celebrities. Conversation and communication have always been integral to trying to ascertain his clients' needs. "It's essential to listen to them. That, along with experience from past projects and travel, goes a long way," says Shah.

So what is the magic formula for his creative breakthroughs? "I would say thinking out of the box and straying away from trends has been immensely crucial. For instance, when everybody was looking to the West for procuring furniture, at the Atelier, we chose to look inwards, gravitating towards Indian crafts designing luxury furniture products and objects. In fact, instead of importing furniture, we are now exporting to the west celebrating fine artisanship infusing these design objects with our own language," he says.

Today, with a strong presence on Indian platforms and accessibility through Instagram, Shah's design objects are available globally through Atelier's recent launch on an international platform such as the Invisible Collection. He is the first Indian designer to debut his work—functional sculptures inspired by wabi-sabi and informed by karigari techniques—on the luxury e-commerce platform, which features the designs of icons such as Pietro Franceschini, Cristina Celestino and Damien Gernay. Rather than having a store, Shah enjoys the idea of Atelier opening its doors, once in a couple of years, to a show like his solo exhibit Otlo.

While being committed to making his handcrafted design objects accessible locally, Shah also wants a global presence for them. "By bringing the Atelier to an international platform through our launch at the Invisible collection and Gallery Volt, we would like to make Indian crafts and design objects more accessible globally," he says. To that end, Atelier is planning on showcasing its work at a gallery in London soon.

Shah counts Tadao Ando and Le Corbusier among his key influences. "In addition to these masters, I have been deeply fascinated by art, which I was exposed to early in life, and that is evident through my projects and collection that I have taken years to put together," he says, adding, "Artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Lucio Fontana and James Turrell find their philosophies reiterated through the objects helping me view every project from an artist's lens."

Creative and entrepreneurial sensibilities are often considered contrary to each other. How does Shah balance the two? "Although art and commerce are part of the same side of the coin, they need to be balanced. They go hand in hand, so much so that art flourishes if there's commerce. Through my practice, I've realised that my ability to fund myself enables me to experiment and indulge in out-of-the-box thinking," he explains.

Being aware of how creative individuals often struggle with the prospect of scaling up their practice, Shah offers a three-point advice: envision a long-term goal; identify and overcome fears; find patrons. "It's crucial to make your clients your patrons, enabling you to explore creative landscapes of change that set you apart," he states from personal experience.