What can you expect from Sabyasachi’s first line of wallpapers with Nilaya?
For one, it's completely handcrafted
It puts the artists contributing to the Sabyasachi Art Foundation in the spotlight.
“My sister and I run the Sabyasachi Art Foundation. [It was born from the fact that] my mother, who was an artist, never commercialised her art, because she didn’t speak English. I think she was a bit intimidated – same premise as English Vinglish! She gave up everything to raise us; we’ve had very flourishing careers, while she didn’t. The foundation [is a nod to her] and it supports struggling artists. We give them more money than they are earning at the moment, give them a studio to pursue their own art, and they devote 50 per cent of their time to collaborate with us. For me, this collaboration with Nilaya was also a good way to introduce the Sabyasachi Art Foundation into the market.”
It has imperfections – the good kind.
“Take for example the ‘Mughal Serai’ piece, the entire wallpaper is handpainted and then digitised on an organic substrate, so when you touch it, it almost feels like you’re touching rice paper. We’ve created large-scale, wall-sized artworks, so you don’t get a tiled effect – the leaves and flowers have subtle differences.”
It has a line based on Kolkata.
“India Baroque was inspired by Calcutta – a typical home in North Calcutta would have a strong wallpaper (opulent brocade or chintz), on top of that you’d have a Rembrandt painting, you’d have old gilded plates, taxidermy, mirrors, musical instruments, showcases filled with china…they would layer, and layer, and layer. In fact, for the longest time I’ve been looking for a colonial bungalow or cottage to move into. It’s impossible to find in Calcutta – I’ve been looking for the last seven years – but when I do, it’s going to be baroque as hell!”
It’s got one of the most opulent lines.
“Makhmal has been inspired by Varanasi brocades. Velvet flocking is a centuries-old technique, dating back to the 17th or 18th century. Every single home of wealth, in Europe or Bengal used velvet coverings, in their jalsa ghar or music rooms. We’ve created damasks inspired by India. So even though the colourway is thyme, the pattern is a surahi.”
“If you can’t handle exuberance or if you’re faint of heart, you can use these wallpapers only on one wall. (The idea is also to show people how to use it in their houses.) Wallpaper in India is a relatively unexplored concept. I don’t want people to get intimidated by it.”
Read up on his favourites:
‘Ranthambore’: “The inspiration was Sanganeri block-printed butis, which were used on hunting tents. They were small of course, but we scaled them up for dramatic effect.”
‘Kaschmir’: “It’s done on pearl paper. All the butis are different. It’s for someone who is poetic, who loves colour, who is feminine, and loves collecting antiques.”
‘Spice Route’: “It’s got the mithoo miyaan motif, which is basically inspired by Jataka tales, Panchatantra. It’s for the quintessential Fabindia woman, who hoards Kutch textiles, has brass vessels in her home , and wooden furniture.”
‘Indigo’: “Was inspired by Jodhpur. In fact the Mughal Serai in china blue is the wallpaper I’ve ordered for my own house.”