It’s not everyday that your creations land up at the world’s largest furniture and interiors exhibition at Milan. And when it happens to be the first time the artiste has created something that’s not custom ordered, the joy is twofold.
Small wonder that interior designer and light and furniture consultant Komal Vasa sounds excited when we talk to her about her twin creations — the Mandala and the Mansara — that have been selected to be exhibited at the annual Salone Satellite exhibition at Milan this April. She is one of the two Indians who will represent the country at the exhibit and rub shoulders with 700 other creative minds from across the world who have made the cut from among 6,50,000 applicants.
While Mandala is a light installation, Mansara is a furniture piece. But just saying so much would be an insult to both. So we ask her to explain. “The Mandala is a Buddhist symbol that stands for spiritual tranquility and deep focus. It drives away distractions. So it can sit on someone’s study table and focus all attention on the work at hand. In a corporate park, I can increase its height and create a powerful light focused on a particular spot,” she says.
But it’s the other furniture piece that’s caught our eye more. A wall unit or a shelf with what looks like a bird inside it! Vasa nods when we mention the bird. “Mansara is a concept older than Vastu. It talks about the best ultilisation of space. I was intrigued when I read about the concept of a parrot’s cage and the belief that actually birds are happy in a cage as long as they are allowed to roam free during the day. So this is a happy bird in a cage. From various angles one is able to see the different flights and movements of the bird and on top there is a micro camera lens, which allows people to see the entire 360-degree space of the cage. On either side of this installation are two functional shelves or drawers — an ideal piece for someone’s living room or for a large office space,” she explains.
So are much of her creations inspired by ancient texts? “I read a lot, and particularly about our ancient world,” she smiles. But her interest in becoming an interior designer was kindled when, as a child, she was mesmerised by what interior designer Keyur Patel did to her room. “I told him all about my dreams of butterflies and birds and of a fantasy world. When we returned to the house after the work was complete I couldn’t believe what I saw. He had recreated every bit of my dreams and brought them to life. It was magic and I knew I wanted to do the same thing when I grew up,” she says.
So she did her MA in interior design from the Bournemouth University, in UK, specialising in lighting design and another Masters degree from the New York School of Interior Design, USA. “These courses taught me the importance of research and not to think of design as an abstract form. It is my dream that one day I will set up a similar design school in India which will encourage students to do research and think independently,” she says, the passion evident in her voice.
It is this power to think and see beyond the ordinary that has perhaps helped her beat 6,50,000 others in the selection process and make it to the Salone Satellite. “This is the first time I have designed something that’s not part of a project or an assignment. Maybe now I will do more of these,” she laughs. The caged bird is about to fly!