Sculpted Stories

Shailesh Rajput Studio is a Mumbai-based design studio that creates bespoke sculptural lights, lifestyle furniture, wall murals and installations that are as stunning as they are functional. By Amrita Shah.

Shailesh Singh, the creative head of Studio Shailesh Rajput says he is a natural born story teller, but more on that later. His own story as a designer starts in Nashik where he did a course in product design at the College of Architecture and met his future business and life partner Mansi, an architect who currently handles the marketing and social media for the studio. Shailesh was born with an artistic inclination and was keen to bridge the gap between art and design through his work. Lacking the skills to generate 3-d modelling drawings, he started sculpting his products in college to showcase his ideas instead. A brief stint in Firozabad, the centre of India’s glassmaking industry familiarised him with blown glass. This was followed with a few months in Moradabad where he learnt how to cast metal from the local artisans. Combing both these skills, Shailesh began to focus his energies on lighting design although he continued to make customised murals and sculptures on order.

Inspired by the cocoon of urodidae or the “false burnet moths” and imbibing the ancient Javanese philosophy of HAMEMAYU HAYUNING BAWANA which means “Manifestaton of a Beautiful World”

Come 2020 and business slowed down thanks to the lockdown, giving Shailesh the opportunity to go back to creating new designs. The materials he normally worked with were not available and he turned to the humble m-seal – a fast curing epoxy putty and wire mesh – both sourced from a corner hardware store, which led to a whole new aesthetic and resultantly, a whole new range of designs.

Social media had a huge role to play in the Studio’s increased popularity during the lockdown. When life limped back toward normalcy Shailesh noticed an increase in orders. He started collaborating more frequently with designers on projects and took part in design shows in Mumbai and Kolkata where his products were sold out. He established a studio in Mumbai – or what he calls an ‘experience centre’ which specialises in retail and customised pieces.  Shailesh says his main clientele comprises of people who understand his products and his thought process.

Kosh Table Lamp

“People need stories to connect them with things. And they like to listen to stories when they are at peace – not when they are busy with their hectic lives. Things slowed down in the lockdown and I was able to connect more with people through my work and the stories behind each piece,” he says.

Each of the pieces he designed had a little story behind it, and Shailesh feels people were able to appreciate his designs more after they had seen his posts on Instagram and understood his thought process. His Jhola light for instance came from wondering what a spiritual soul like Indian poet Kabir would carry around in his bag (or jhola).The Jhola light is his interpretation of a sack of dreams.

Kabir’s Jhola: Poet and Saint Kabir was the carrier of dreams. This ‘jhola’ light represents him – the beholder of inspiration and is interpreted as a sack of dreams.

Shailesh believes all the products he has designed have a meaning behind them.

Musha: Musha means windows. This was a first of a series, where SRS tried to delve into ‘Kabir’s’ writings (Dohas). The light is handcrafted in sheet aluminium with blown glass and alabaster beads finished with leather threads.

Sambhu: Inspired by Lord Shiva’s Trident. This piece is handcrafted in aluminium with hand beaten discs in brass.

“Our philosophy is to create objects that have life and are not just lifeless products. We are not a trend driven practice as the trends live short. Instead our effort is to create timeless pieces that evoke an emotion. The function we try to cater to is the emotional need of the being. We believe that the function of the light is not just help you see things but to elevate the experiential factor also. Thus we try to create sculptural light that has life – and life always is a blend of beauty and function,’ he explains when asked about what inspires his creations.”

Images Courtesy: Shailesh Rajput Studio