Anita Lal is India’s first tastemaker for Christie’s

The Good Earth creative director partners with London auction house to showcase art from both the ‘Islamic and Indian worlds’

The Good Earth creative director partners with London auction house to showcase art from both the ‘Islamic and Indian worlds’

It’s no surprise that Anita Lal, 73, affectionately known by her initials AL, is Christie’s trendsetter for a spring sale this week. After all, the founder of Good Earth, the homeware and clothing company that celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, has led many artisan interventions. The brand has been behind interior restorations such as the Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur, a collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum (Fabric of India exhibition) and, more recently, the Heirloom Project, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It marked a decade of the Islamic wing of the museum. This month, as a tastemaker for Art of the Islamic and Indian World, including Oriental Rugs and CarpetsLal has edited personal favorites from the sale and has put together digital vignettes featuring Good Earth products, objects she “has cherished over the years.”

Tabriz carpet imagined at Anita Lal's home in Delhi

Tabriz carpet imagined at Anita Lal’s home in Delhi

While this marks the first time Christie’s has teamed up with a tastemaker from India, previous tastemakers have included Aerin Lauder (of the luxury American brand Aerin) and British interior designers Rita Konig and Kit Kemp. Meanwhile, at Christie’s headquarters in central London, three-room vignettes have been recreated with personally chosen pieces from Good Earth by Lal. They are exhibited alongside the approximately 211 lots from the 9th to 19th centuries. More from Good Earth founder and creative director:

“Islamic culture is deeply integrated in the Indian subcontinent, and it shows in the way we dress, our music, our food, our language and in our decorative patterns. It is so integral to our lives that we hardly notice it”Anita LalicFounder, Good Earth

What attracts you to the Islamic design vocabulary and which of Good Earth’s collections best reflect this?

As a design house from India, we celebrate every cultural aspect of the subcontinent (including Vedic, Buddhist, Persian and Mughal influences, and from countries on the other side of the Silk Road). Islamic culture is deeply integrated in the Indian subcontinent and it shows in the way we dress, our music, our food, our language and in our decorative patterns.

Over the years we have created numerous design collections based on some aspect of Islamic design, including vintage scarves. One of my favorites was Farah Baksh, a Persian/Urdu term that translates as ‘Giver of Delight’, inspired by the Persian paradise gardens Charbagh created by the Mughals in Kashmir.

Radha and Krishna on a terrace Pahari hills, India, early 19th century.  Painting and folio (estimate £10,000-15,000)

Radha and Krishna on a terrace Pahari hills, India, early 19th century. Painting and folio (estimate £10,000-15,000)

What did you enjoy most about working with?

If I had to pick one item from the sale, it would be the Tabriz rug. Van Vaibhav means ‘beauty of the forest’ and is a common thread in Good Earth. Flowering trees with birds and animals is a recurring theme in our designs which have been so exquisitely interpreted in this tapestry.

You mention that you think the visual and emotional appeal is superior to the monetary value of an artifact.

I cherish things from the smallest handmade ceramic vase to a grand sculpture or an antique chair and I mix them all together. My home is a relaxed mix of everything I love and that includes some priceless inherited antiques and Agra prison rugs along with studio pottery I’ve collected and lots of Indian art my husband has bought over the years. Our furniture is also a mix of modern pieces that sit alongside vintage furniture from the family’s childhood home in Hisar.

What to expect

The artworks in the Christie’s sale date from the 9th to 19th centuries and comprise approximately 211 lots, from manuscripts and paintings to ceramics, metalwork and tapestries. There are about 70 carpets representing all aspects of Persian carpet weaving, from the naturalistic and delicate floral images woven in Tabriz, Iran, to the earthy, warm palettes of the Kurdish nomads.

A tastemaker who sets the bar high with grand dinners and conviviality at home?

Bim Bissel [the wife of Fabindia’s founder, the late John Bissell], is the first person that comes to mind as a seasoning. Her stylish home reflects her warm personality and she entertains in an easy casual style, mixing interesting people of all age groups with different interests. The Bissel Christmas brunch is legendary.

Open for viewing until March 30. Auction on King Street, London, on March 31. Details on christies.com

www.thehindu.com

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