Jewellery designer ANAND SHAH has the power to surprise each time he unveils a collection. An artist par excellence, Shah uses gold, a medium he reveres, to stylishly replicate the bounties of nature. His pieces have a distinct design grammar bearing a blend of luxuriant grandeur coupled with an understated simplicity, which perhaps is a reflection of his own grounded nature.
Much ahead of his times, the prolific and experimental artist started using alternative material like rosewood, oil paints, cameos, mother-of-pearl and glass in his extraordinary bridal collections. In his recent collection, rosewood gets pride of place along with gold and other precious gemstones.
Invoking the spirit of nature in gold is no mean task. It requires a high level of virtuosity to envision unexpected and intricate forms and to be able to turn them into sophisticated and wearable art. Many of his statement, red-carpet pieces are displayed in his stylishly designed boutique-cum-office in Mumbai.
Despite winning several prestigious design awards for years, Shah wears his laurels lightly. Affable yet shy, Shah is a bundle of energy, who believes in savouring the unsurpassed beauty in our surroundings. For a man who is committed to his craft and steeped in artistic pursuits, he also finds time to pen poetry, listen to old Hindi songs, designs his home and boutique’s interiors, whenever the need arises.
Nature invigorates Anand Shah, and he is fond of flowers, in particular. He has never gifted a store-bought bouquet; instead, he takes pleasure in arranging handpicked exotic flowers for his friends and family – adding his own take to the floral offering. The same passion transcends into jewellery making – where he shows off his skills in gold.
The pandemic-related lockdown gave Shah a lot of time to introspect about life and his work. He wanted to convey a message of hope through his new collection, Rangrez. The 22-karat textured and heavily etched and filigreed collection is imbued with varied colour gemstones and polkis. “The lockdown created distance and, in turn, despondency in many of us. I wanted to reach out to customers through Rangrez and spread positivity. Colours are mood enhancers and change the way we perceive the world.”
The other line, Touch Wood, underpins the beauty of rosewood. The muted jewels in 22-karat gold are accompanied by carved rosewood motifs. “I had worked with rosewood for the first time in 2004, and I thought of re-introducing it this time. Rosewood bears dark brown hues and has natural veins – that complement the gold textures which may be simply brushed and satiny or etched.”
“Nature is a fount of inspiration for me,” says Shah. “We are lucky to live on this planet which is full of beauty – and through my creations, I try to bring forth the synergistic relationship between Man and Nature.”
Shah’s adroitness lies in replicating the organic shapes of vines, florets, buds and more in an enticing manner. “That’s the reason why I work with gold as it allows me the freedom to tease out forms, and introduce the curves and sweeps of natural elements.”
The self-taught artist explains that he is a “visual thinker” and transforms those visuals into jewellery. “It is a god-given gift.”
He is one of the first Indian designers to include alternative material in the fine and bridal segment. “I love to experiment and break the mould… limitations are in your mind; once you break free, you can play with materials without undermining the beauty of a piece. Also, I love challenges. The more difficult the proposition, the more driven I become and ensure that my designs metamorphose into luxe creations,” Shah comments.
Ideas strike him randomly and so he keeps a pocket diary handy – he has caught fleeting thoughts even on paper napkins in restaurants. Hours spent on the workbench with master karigars help him translate those random sketches into marvellous pieces of art. “I am not good at drawing, but I convey my thoughts to my craftsmen. Over the years, they know how I exactly would like the piece to turn into.”
Rarely one to discard his sketches and concepts, Shah gets impatient to see the final creations. “I can’t wait to see the final product,” he laughs.
His individualistic streak prevents him from making bespoke commissions, but that very trait has helped him to develop his own signature style.
“I wish designers abandon the herd mentality and do their own thing… for what comes from the heart is what will define you and your passion … to be able to express oneself, and to transform those ideas into pieces of adornment,” he signs off.