Titan’s Chief Design Officer, Revathi Kant in an exclusive interview to Solitaire International speaks about the new collection Rooted by Zoya, and the shift in consumer’s attitude towards jewellery as we move ahead through the unpredictable times.
The collection Rooted by Zoya comes against the backdrop of uncertainty brought in by the deadly pandemic. What is the message that this beautiful collection wants to convey to its consumers?
Rooted is a celebration of the journey of a woman as she reconnects with her feminine self. The collection draws on motifs from the world’s rainforests which have stood tall for millions of years in the face of climatic upheavals with the help of the immense strength they possess. The resilience of these rainforests is exactly like the unfettered spirit of a woman. Breaking free from the confines of patriarchal expectations she delves deep within to draw strength and her resolve to be strong finds a parallel in the rainforest. Both the rainforests and a woman play the role of a nurturer and caregiver to various life forms, possessing the ability to weather storms and emerge stronger in the face of all odds. As the world is faced with a future of uncertainty, Zoya’s Rooted serves as a fitting metaphor for the inner strength and perseverance that the Zoya woman shares with the rainforest, both aesthetically and symbolically.
Going forward, what are the trends that you expect once we emerge from the lockdowns and leave the pandemic behind? Do you expect to see revenge buying among consumers?
During the pandemic, we observed a trend towards minimalism, a new consciousness because of the way people have been living their lives. Consumers asked themselves, “Do I need to buy so often?” “Can I purchase something of a better quality and with more longevity?” Now this is evolving, partly because it’s become apparent that we are in this situation for a long haul.
Revenge buying was a trend observed in China post the lockdown but we have not observed this in India yet. Overall, there is a sense of acceptance of the situation and what we are observing is a gradual shift in the mindset of consumers. With the festive season around the corner, after months of being locked down, consumers are looking to express themselves with something more celebratory. Rooted from Zoya presents that balance. The collection is versatile, and its vibrancy amplifies the season’s celebratory spirit.
How have you seen jewellery design evolve over the years and where is it headed in the coming years?
The Indian consumer has evolved, and become more discerning. The equation of jewellery as an investment versus adornment is shifting slowly. Design, versatility and how the jewellery looks on her are important factors. Jewellery is a lot more wearable and not very heavy or expensive.
Consumers have become a lot more experimental because they want to stand out. So not just the product, but having the whole narrative – from its inspiration to presentation – is very important.
Tell us about your three-decade long association with Titan. When did you join and how has the journey been so far?
It has been a fabulous journey. I have had the opportunity of working in this company across divisions, categories and businesses and finally I chose design because that is what I enjoy doing. Out of the 30-year long career, I have spent 15 years in the field of design. I must add that design has emerged as a very integral and strategic part of our business and it is at the core of all the brands in our portfolio. It has been a wonderful association spanning three decades wherein not only have I grown but seen the company grow to what it is today.
You moved from marketing to design – how did this switchover happen?
I joined Titan in 1990 in the market research team as a young trainee and then moved to Dubai, to look after marketing for West Asia and Africa. It was a great phase of my career because I learned so much when working in these new geographies and complex environments. I learnt the importance of the right kind of product for each audience because what we were doing in India was not suited for those markets.
Titan became the number one brand in the Oman market and was ranked among the top three across various other cities and states, and this was very gratifying.
After a decade, I wanted to try something different and challenging. I honestly never imagined I would do what I am doing today! I was offered the position of Head of Design for the watches division. I was a bit sceptical, because design was completely new to me; so, I invested a lot of time learning about it. Our aim was to make design the focus, but for that we needed a clear understanding of the world of business and the world of design.
I realised that I could make a very big difference and that was a real motivator. About five years later, I was offered the opportunity to become the Head of Design for the jewellery division, with the thrust on innovation and new product introduction. It was a fairly large role but I was thoroughly enjoying design and adding a lot of value to the business and to the organisation, so I decided to go ahead with it.
In 2018, I moved on to head Design for the company across all businesses. It’s been a very interesting journey and one that continues to unfold.
Tell us about the design philosophy of Zoya – how different is it from Tanishq?
As a company our philosophy is ‘Design that Inspires’. Titan has multiple brands and each brand has its own design philosophy but all are guided by the overarching design philosophy of Titan.
Zoya’s collections celebrate the journey of the Zoya woman; everything is about her as she is the heroine — her multiple facets, and individual style, her flamboyance, elegance, her journey, her inner strength … all of it, even as we maintain an unwavering commitment to fine design and impeccable craftsmanship.
While Zoya is about an individual, Tanishq is also about the people around her — the occasion, celebration, and family moments. Tanishq is the mother brand catering to multiple occasions, multiple reasons. Design in Tanishq targets the modern progressive Indian women so we have contemporary and traditional styles of jewellery to reach out to a wider audience.
We have a collection called Rivaah which is traditional, while Aarambh and many other collections are contemporary.
We have jewellery across all the categories, so it’s actually like a universe and we cater to multiple regions. From a design point of view, we try to give a large spread and look for a price which fits our customer’s budget and is more affordable. The techniques and workmanship that we use in jewellery for Tanishq are very different from Zoya.
For Zoya, the inspiration to execution is undiluted and is absolutely taken as it is because a Zoya consumer is a lot more discerning, exposed to the western world.Zoya is a brand with its heart in India and an eye on the world. The brand prides itself on designs that give contemporary form to traditional craft. Each collection of Zoya is a labour of love and takes nine months to a year to complete.
Tell us more about the Design Excellence Centre and the role it plays in creating jewellery product lines. How will the pandemic impact jewellery design?
The Design Excellence Centre is a central hub in the organisation where we create and conceptualise design products for every category. In case of jewellery we consider design preferences from across the country because each region is unique. We have a 100-member team from India and around the world that studies trends across the categories. It helps to have the creative minds working across categories as the cross-pollination of talent helps us come up with fresh ideas.
Through the pandemic, we have considered the shift in consumer attitude to deliver collections designed for their current mood like Zoya’s collection Rooted, which is themed on resilience and uses motifs of the rainforest as a metaphor for that strength. Certainly technology has played an important role. The whole act of creating, designing and developing the product has changed, and a lot of it has moved online. We often work with our factories and vendor partners remotely because of travel restrictions. It is a new learning and in many ways it has turned out to be a more efficient way of working.
Emeralds, custom-cut turquoise, and champagne diamonds represent the hues that refract off a verdant glade as the first rays of the morning sun descend upon it. By Zoya
The elegant pendant features a turquoise stone with rows of sapphires, rubies and diamonds in shifting hues that capture the grace of a Scarlet Macaw’s feathers. By Zoya
A cabochon Arizona turquoise seated among a cascade of diamonds suspends from a necklace with a detachable bracelet. … as enchanting as the royal fly catcher that takes its place among the abundance of the rainforest.
Light of the Rainforest
A pear-cut yellow sapphire, enveloped by emeralds and diamonds akin to a ray of sunshine piercing the morning shade under the canopy of the forest. By Zoya