Raseel Gujral Ansal carries a mammoth legacy of creative excellence combined with a fearless compulsion to evolve . This mantle has been handed to her by her father , the legendary maestro of all arts , Satish Gujral . The burning & restless quest to explore every medium of creative application has led Raseel in the past 30 years , starting with interior-architecture , adding in furniture & product design , organically evolving into an architect & searing through graphic illustration for home & fashion.
In this process co-founding three companies along with her husband & business partner Navin Ansal . RGA architecture studio , Casa Paradox & Casa Pop - each format has a cult following & is perceived as the premier indigenous luxury leader in its field . The past three decades have seen national & international awards & accolades, while catering to an array of elite clients such as the Imperial Group of Hotels, Eros Group of companies, Uppal Group of companies, Interban Trades Ltd., Al Maya Group of companies, Wave Group of companies and Ansal API to name a few. From 100,000 sq.ft. projects scaling the cliffs of Goa, India, to mammoth townhouses in Texas, USA; she has garnered herself a global presence taking her philosophy of Indigenous Luxury far & wide.
A true exemplification of the Renaissance ethos , & the guru-shishya tradition , Raseel was schooled in her creative career within the crucible of the architectural firm led by her father & brother Mohit Gujral & as in the renaissance has disregarded all compartmentalization between creative fields . Hence, calls herself the accidental artist/ architect .
A school of architecture requires a five to seven year curriculum . Raseel says she has dedicated the past 30 years in learning & still remains an avaricious & passionate student.
Raseel Gujral possesses a fervent enthusiasm which is evident in the tangible energy that is felt and witnessed in her work. Her inspiration also comes from her lineage, the daughter of Satish Gujral, one of the country’s great contemporary artists thus; her love for artistic designs and creativity literally flows in her blood. Her style and ideas are constantly breaking away from the traditional, the customary and the predictable.
The Paradox Line of stores epitomizes luxurious elements and experimental shapes taking life-style design to a new realm of sheer indulgence. Ms. Gujral’s interior collection has everything from vases to candle stands to chandeliers to sofas and tables, cushions, paper cuts meshed with natural woods to form picture frames, serving trays and presentation boxes.
As Ms. Gujral puts it, ‘I have always given my imagination a free run. What emerges is really a fusion of modern and contemporary’. So one might refer to her style as a mix of tradition and today but she is happy being called a “contemporary classic”.
Raseel Gujrals exceptional taste and unconventional approach to design has made her one of the most sought after designers in India. From fabrics to furniture, home décor and architecture her designs are luxurious yet vibrant at the same time. Her accomplishments can be attributed to her talent, drive, determination and a pure love for beauty in design.
Raseel Gujral is a name that resonates as a testimony of remarkable design. Growing up in an environment infused with artistic inspirations from her father (the renowned artist, architect, sculptor and Padma Vibhushan awardee Sh. Satish Gujral), Raseel progressed into interior design as well as interior and exterior architecture with Raseel Gujral designs in 1986 and luxury lifestyle retail with Casa Paradox in 1993.
Both the companies have evolved into pioneers not only nationally, but within the international design realm. Raseel Gujral designs encompasses an array of private and commercial projects while Casa Paradox’s enhances the evolution of design with revered regular launches of awe inspiring new collections from its design studios, whether it be the revolutionary “Illustratti” collection propagating “Art by the meter”, to the grandest addition to the Casa Paradox array – the “Neophile” collection, which takes a bold step into design with an attractive blend of neo-classical renaissance that exudes an old world charm with a new voice.
The lineage of artistic influence reverberates in every project with a design philosophy focusing on innovation and sustainability while emphasizing a refined use of art, magnificent objects, patterns, strong silhouettes, textures and a sophisticated color palette, that is balanced to provide a refined original signature
Luxury for me is experiential — everything from spas to luxury kitchen installations and homes customization where niche products are a part of it. The moment a brand customizes, it fulfills a client’s want, because ultimately it is about the clients wants.
Rapid globalization, emerging technology and changing consumer behavior continue to reshape the luxury industry. Growth is becoming increasingly dependent on developing a niche luxury ‘experience’ with the swift upsurge in branded products. People are well aware of their ‘wants’ and aspirations, where the demand equals supply as well as the availability of a multitude of products that offer something for everyone.
I’ve became an architect, interior architect and an interior designer all through a process of genealogy and osmosis. I have grown up in an environment where my father (Satish Gujral) is a renowned artist, architect, sculptor so the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. It was a very natural progression to choose a format which had to do with one of the arts and to choose the pure arts would be a very scary commitment, so as a result I chose an applied art form. In fact everyone in my family has chosen applied art. My brother is also an architect and my sister is a textile and jewellery designer and I am a multi faceted designer covering the entire spectrum of lifestyle design.
So in one line I would say I am a space designer by birth. Just like one is Indian or American.
The journey has been very long, since I started out in 1986 freelancing in design and it has covered more than a couple of decades, so to go into it would be very boring for anybody and requires a whole other book. But as far as design goes, it started out at a time when everything was either pseudo colonial or ethnic a and everything was a hangover from your parents space there was no room for contemporary appreciation. The contemporary was certainly not aspirational. So it has been an uphill climb, and when you're in any form of applied design you have to make sure that whatever you're doing, while trying to be innovative is still relevant. So one has moved from transitional design to make it more contemporary and I find it gratifying to see so many copycats and mimics because it the best form of flattery.
Market evolution post Casa Paradox’s inception has witnessed luxury brands expanding their retail presence aggressively. With it, the more savvy and demanding consumers are now seeking out the less obvious brand signifiers such as iconic shapes or signature design treatments — Chanel’s quilting, for example — that only a select, like-minded minority would recognize.
Likewise, Casa Paradox embodying a global refinement and an indigenous design sense, reflective of a contemporary & timeless design, makes it an exceptionally attractive choice for the discerning consumer.
A great design for me is organically Indian, but the message is fairly subliminal, and it is always contemporary, glamorous and evolving. It has a sense of fresh international glamour which is always a constant.
For instance in residential projects, the use of muted colours and a play on space trump excessive ornamentation where there is a sense of flamboyance and glamour, but it’s toned down. Furniture in gold, silver, champagne leafing, rich fabrics both in color and texture, for example chenille, evolve the design element into a more relaxed, enchanting and classic look as opposed to the industrial modern décor witnessed in the recent past. The inheritance of culture and tastefulness can be accentuated by inlay on table tops in semi precious stones, cutwork mirror and embellished textile to integrate an old world charm into the modern living.
In order to get an Indian flavor to a décor one doesn’t necessarily have to pick up ethnic Indian items of décor it is really a question of fragrance, and fragrance can come in through color. Indian décor is packed with youthful energy, complimented with free movement of varying forms, prints and vibrant colours that amalgamate into ones personality.
Design, whether it's on your body or in your home is the same thing. It’s mixing different colors, different textures, and unexpected patterns—elements that you wouldn’t often put together in an interesting way. That’s also why I look for things that you don’t see everywhere, things that are elegant.
Bright and colorful digital art on canvas infuse an instant dose of playful style to a space. The aesthetically artistic “Illustratti” collection that vary from bold prints of the Born to be Wild collection to the hot pink, kiwi and many other vibrant hues of Jailhouse Rock; and the effervescent horses in Riders of the Storm that are edged with white frames – all mirror the life of varied seasons.
Taking that forward, and translating the same art on furniture – create statement pieces that don’t allow the eye to wander far. Be it the Oh My God cabinet or the kitschy Band Baaja Baraat Bar that showcases Mumbai with bright multi-colored elephants and horses, each and every one is eye catching and bold.
I’ve always believed that you have to observe everything around you, whether it is interiors, architecture, film, art, fashion or natural environment and then to forget it all and to come up with your version of reality so I have never been good at following a trend, I am good at absorbing them and then good at synthesizing and coming up with a new vocabulary so I have never been a follower.
New colours, new imagery and Trend for me personally don’t emerge seasonally and I don’t attempt to do seasonal collections but the trend of the moment in my opinion is original graphics that can be translated onto a variety of Materials. It could be tile, textile, murals depending on the application and can be interpreted onto topical furniture that combine French, colonial and Indian influences and is representative of inlays in onyx, jaali work, mirror framing, and incorporate the neo classical elements. The mood of this trend is a buoyant, young, effervescent graphic rich India. Indian influences from the miniatures, botanical echoes bring a different interpretation to the same idea of all the cultural melting pot that is India and how we look at it today. It is a very radical new direction for graphics to be represented on furniture; it can take the 4 dimensional forms in sculptures, or mainly be a topical piece that you incorporate into your home. When decorating your home, the pieces of furniture should transcend and become works of art to be appreciated for years to come.
The consumer today, is well travelled and aware with an appreciation for aesthetics, quality and creativity. Thus, it becomes easier for the consumer today to identify the experience what they want from a brand and at the same time know what the brand has to offer. A majority of the middle class income is moving towards branded products.
In the interior and architecture segment, a major Indian buyer is the urban housewife. The aspiration is luxury with relevance and comfort being a priority. When designing spaces it does not have to be a villa or a mansion, the need specific consumer with an apartment can get full blown solutions for their abode. It is all about creative collaboration that can transform a space into a realization of the consumer’s likes, wants and needs.
For the first time ever Casa Paradox exclusively unveiled a new collection “Neophile” along with Illustratti (a play on graphic illusion) at the scènes d’intérieur, hall 7. The brand was part of the leading trade show for high-end interior design by special invitation, uniting the most prestigious luxury firms, major home-fashion brands and most cutting-edge designers.
Maison et Objet was a prestigious opportunity and platform to showcase India as we see it today and not just as a resource for development or production but as a design voice in its own right. Casa Paradox’s presence at Maison et Objet brought our sophisticated and sublime collections to the wider attention of a global audience and continued the legacy of designs that are permeated with elements from the past and merged with international contemporary trends.
In addition to the Maison et Objet showcase, the year also saw Design et al bestowing its International Design and Architecture, Asia Pacific Architect of the year 2013 award in the residential properties category. Design awards are vast broadcast representing milestones for self awareness, your peer group and your audience of clients, it is essential to put yourself on an international platform to feel that you are not cocooned in your design sensibilities and aspirations.
India is a diverse market with its own cultural quirks, rules, politics and retail networks. Luxury is aspirational where Indians are cost conscious at the same time as being brand and quality conscious. It is not about mass appeal, it is about uniqueness where it isn’t necessarily about making a product line more commercial, it’s about making more options. As they say the product becomes an “Owners pride and a Neighbours envy”
The Indian Buyer being aspirational when it boils down to branded products and cost effectiveness, creating the want is the first challenge while also making the consumer brand conscious. A brand is not only money but quality specific.
Today exploiting new channels, especially online, and developing innovative new product categories, all of which require a much wider range of ideas, expertise and knowledge has become much easier with an online presence and e - commerce, so the gap between the consumer and the brand has narrowed.
Design has made a definite shift from being sterile and minimalistic to spaces with object and character that consists of some sense and origin. Design should be ingrained in an ancient culture yet at the same time offer a contemporary reinterpretation which binds it together into a coherent narrative. Good design is timeless.
The next major trend to look out for is a Neo India trend represented in the Casa Paradox “Neophile” collection, which takes a bold step into furniture design, transcending the obvious and transforming the echoes of the past and with it the colonial and Indian influences and the heritage of the Indian palaces and monuments into a truly stunning array of topical pieces in an exciting range of colours and styles. Traditional motifs and neo classical details that are lavishly ornate, are at once iconic and covetable, and give this trend an unparalleled diversity in the way in which it can be used.
Indian décor is packed with youthful energy, complimented with free movement of varying forms, prints and vibrant colours that amalgamate into ones personality. It is really the high intensity of color that we use in India and the way we combine it is what makes us think India. So I think it’s crucial to bring in the right combination of colors. Combine sort of very Indian colors, everything in a high energy whether it is green, a yellow or a chili red it is really the intensity of color and how it clashes and harmonizes. So I think it starts with color. And then it’s bringing in the pattern.
Also, simplicity in a scheme should be aesthetically scaled back and simplified. A complicated scheme doesn’t allow evolution and design should evolve with time.