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Gauri Khan on her latest elephant installation

‘I like to create designs that aren’t something one may have seen before while browsing social media’

Saionee Chakraborty Published 13.11.20, 01:16 AM
Gauri Khan

Gauri Khan Sourced by the correspondent

She is known for her distinguished aesthetics in design, architecture, interior projects and furniture and we caught up with her — on email — on one of her recent assignments, an elephant installation at Phoenix Palassio in Lucknow. The Telegraph chats with Gauri Khan, the lady behind Gauri Khan Designs.

What was the inspiration behind the elephant installations?

For me, it is important to connect any piece of art I create, with heritage and culture of the city. The installation complements the beautiful architecture of the city of nawabs and am glad Phoenix Palassio will be hosting it this Diwali. When I think of this festival, I think of the little sparkles in the sky, and how those sparkles light up our lives. That sparkle and grandeur of Diwali is what I have captured with this installation. The installation will be placed wherein the structure would invite visitors to the mall and give them a true regal experience, in line with Lucknow’s heritage and charm.

Can you describe the work of art?


The installation comprises two graceful elephant structures, over 25ft in height. The display is made of metal and encrusted with one lakh crystals that ornament their bejewelled hides, encircle their necks with garlands and adorn their anklets. It’s a sight worth seeing! The mall is truly mesmerising with its regal architecture and design and the new installation would only add to the luxurious appeal of the mall. The structure stands on broad circular base of painted plywood, with an elegant lotus sculpture at its fore and tall, stacked. The fluidly designed lamps on either end facing each other at a diagonal slant, with the heads held aloft in anticipation of the coming festivities, and their outstretched trunks holding bud-shaped lamps to light up the sky, are sure to be an inspiration on their own.

Gauri Khan's elephant installation

Gauri Khan's elephant installation Sourced by the correspondent

Would you like to dabble in more installations than you normally do?

I would be open to the opportunity!

How do you approach an installation project as compared to a regular architecture project?

I approach it the same away. At the end of the day, it’s a work of art and you’re constantly inspired by things around you. I like to create designs that aren’t something one may have seen before while browsing social media for example. It has to be unique. It could be an inspiration from a monument, a historical structure, culture — all these things inspire me. I have, for example, been greatly inspired by India’s iconic temples. For example, the Sun Temple in Konark has had a particular influence on my work.

Does your house have any Gauri Khan installation?

Not yet!

You have travelled around the world. What are your favourite installations?

Like I said, I get influenced by history, culture a lot. Difficult to choose a favourite. My design philosophy is to strike a balance between my personality and my art. Things that I do should reflect a style that is unique. I am hence attracted to things that are elegant and imaginative!

Who are your favourite artists?

Well it’s difficult to name one. Each artist is unique in their own art form. Subhash Awchat, Subodh Gupta are amazing at their work to name a few from Indian artists.

Did you, like a lot of us, go on a home improvement project in the lockdown?

Well I actually worked on my coffee-table book, My Life in Design, this lockdown. The lockdown has given a lot of us time to pause, step back and spend our energies creatively. Since I had a little more time on my hands than usual, I decided to devote it all towards this book.
The lockdown doesn’t really require you to be anywhere at any particular time and work on deadlines. But as a person, I am always creatively motivated to work on something. This book, in a way, has helped me through the dull phases of the lockdown.

What are the latest decor additions?

A jade Ganpati, a pair of four ft tall black vases from Paris, Radha Krishna marble sculpture to name a few.

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