Notes is our latest series on exploring the dynamics of creativity over an informal break. We chatted with some of the most eminent as well as some of the upcoming artists in India today. Today, we talk to graphic designer Shweta Malhotra about her journey & inspirations.
Could you tell us a little about your journey towards design?
After graduating in Applied Arts from Sophia Polytechnic (Bombay) in 2004, I started out as an Art Director with advertising agencies like McCann Erickson, Contract Advertising and Ogilvy. In Feb 2008, after a short stint at Fabrica (Benetton’s Visual Arts Research Centre in Italy), I decided to pursue a career in Graphic Design and have since worked with firms like Grandmother India and Rediffusion Y&R Design.
I currently work as an independent graphic designer/graphic artist with a keen interest in design for lifestyle, music and fashion.
I don’t think I can pin point one piece of work really, but currently I’d say – Carmen Herrera’a Exhibit – ‘Lines of Sight’ which is currently on display at the Whitney Museum, New York.
Green & Orange by Carmen Herrera. Image by Chi Lam.
You’re known for your iconic deconstruction of popular looks – could you offer us a sneak peek into your thought process when you set out to design them?
My overall style of work is very minimal, geometric, bold and graphic. I try to strip down a visual/element off details to its most basic form, yet maintaining its essence.
Seascape inspired by Varkala – Shweta Malhotra
The fashion illustrations came out of my love for fashion and graphic design, I started picking my favourite looks and illustrating them in a similar style.
What are your favourite accounts on Instagram?
Again too many, but here are a few –
What does your playlist look like?
It’s mostly a lot of R&B/Hip hop, Electronic, Disco.
What was your inspiration for your piece Seven Islands for our Sensorium?
The inspiration for the Seven Islands Artwork was the Bombay seascape and its horizon along with the fruity marine and floral hints of the fragrance. All of this coming together in a dreamlike image.
Apart from creating intriguing fragrances, Bombay Perfumery truly believes in participating in and fostering the burgeoning creative community. Perfume and, by extension, the sense of smell creates a fantastic platform to develop stories from.
We tied up with Michael Burns, founder of Tall Tales, to develop a unique workshop at the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture where one’s nose literally leads one to the story.
Crafted as a hands-on writing workshop, Michael first introduced our participants to the different senses. Moving on to introducing our fragrances, he encouraged them to engage with the fragrances and jot down words and memories that they associated with our 8 perfumes.
Using those memories and descriptions, the participants came up with a distinctive character and environment, creating the perfect background to develop a story.
Blue Tokai Bombay played background to our very first workshop curated by LOVER.
We invited members of Mumbai’s creative community – from interior designers to stylists to graphic designers and even a food critic to join us over a cup of coffee as we explored the world of progressive perfumery.
Part one saw our founder Manan Gandhi introducing the fragrances, talking about their journeys and ingredients.
With the participants jumping in with their opinions on the fragrances, the conversations revolved around the origin and quality of ingredients to the way perfume is actually created.
After a quick break, our lab for the interactive perfume-making class was set up. Flasks of essential oils, natural and synthetic components and droppers dominated the tableau. With Manan breaking down the core of every perfume to its composition of top, heart and base notes, the participants got around to concocting their own perfume.
For our launch, Sandunes + Jiver teamed up to create the fantastic Black Box Synthesizer. An audio/visual installation, the Synthesizer aimed to compare the accords in perfume and music.
A highly subjective installation, the experience varied for everyone, depending on what keys they chose to push.
Photographer Colston Julian is known for his unapologetic photography, especially those of the spirit of Bombay. For us, he was inspired by the mysterious Moire.
Inspired by the concept of synchronicity through diversity, Julian’s photograph of the Bombay skyline through mist is both hazy yet familiar. We know those buildings, we know those paths but through Julian’s lens, the lines become blurry and merge into one another – creating something new altogether.
Gastronomic artist Pooja Dhingra is known for her experimentations. For our Sensorium, Dhingra was inspired by her favourite 1020.
Curator & Art Director Sanket Avlani was inspired by our gourmandise Chai Musk and, in particular, by its structure of ingredients. Using this as a starting board, he created the Chai Diagram.
Highlighted by its invigorating palette, the Chai Diagram features an overlay of ‘charpois’ or traditional Indian benches, symbolic of the various layers of the perfume.
Graphic Designer Shweta Malhotra is well-known for her very visually-appealing work. Between the domains of pop and minimalism, Shweta’s work carries a distinct identity.
Inspired by Seven Islands’ fruity marine fragrance, Malhotra chose to show harmony through difference.
In a land where the sun reflects in the sea, and fruit reflects flora, Seven Islands is an idyllic land.
Bombay Stampede : An Installation by Lekha Washington 15 November 2016
With her keen eye and distinct style, artist and product designer Lekha Washington, created an interactive installation piece for our Sensorium.
Titled ‘Bombay Stampede’, the piece had empty windows waiting for the audience to come in and stamp their impressions and observations of Bombay.
From Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ to a rare unicorn, the windows showcased a personal rendition of the city we call home together, thereby linking it to Bombay Perfumery’s very essence.
Floral couturer Nazneen Jehnagir has always been inspired by flowers, from the sidewalk to the stores, which is why working with them has been a natural transition. A direct connect to the world of perfumery and Nazneen’s way about floral couture got us excited to have her on board for the Sensorium.
Titled ‘Mumbai in eMotion’, Nazneen’s starting point was the Dabbawalla of Bombay as symbolic of the spirit of Bombay; resilient and beautiful.
A cycle laden with dabbas and flowers – rose, tuberose, mandarin, lemongrass among others – was created while the vintage TV at the back played black and white visuals of a timeless Bombay.
Artist and designer Krsnaa Mehta is known for his contemporary Indian-chic take on design. The visually distinctive work is always inspired and iconic.
For our Sensorium, Mehta was primarily driven by the idea of deriving essence. Bombay, with its Art Deco architecture, served as inspiration.
His artwork sought to capture this, along with Bombay Perfumery’s range of perfumes. Complex in its core along with a fluid simplicity that encompasses its world, this art represents both Bombay as well as Bombay Perfumery. The result is a dynamic piece, bringing to mind walking through the bylanes of Bombay.
A highly acclaimed architect and interior design, Ashiesh Shah is also known for his discerning eye when it comes to art. Asking him to be on board for our Sensorium was both a no-brainer and a privilege.
Taken in by our bottle, which is in itself a reinvention of the traditional Indian matka, he created a lamp stand. Characterised by a vocabulary of clean lines and geometric forms, the stand appears minimal but is full of subtle details.
Perhaps the juxtaposition of materials is what keeps the eye drawn to the object. Created using brass, the stand appears almost sculptural – and when paired with the immaterial liquid perfume form, it represents both the tangible and the intangible.
Drawing inspiration from mid century masters like Le Corbusier and Ettore Sottsass, the stand exudes an almost vintage meets contemporary feel.