We designed a Secret Garden for fashion design label Saloni in India on the grounds of the Raas Devigarh Palace hotel, in celebration of the Holi Festival and the launch of fashion designer’s latest capsule collection. Using local materials the studio has married traditional Indian craft with their signature sculptural forms.
Director Jonathan Mizzi was approached by London-based contemporary womenswear designer, Lodha Saloni, to create a unique space that would celebrate vernacular Indian design through a contemporary re-invention. Saloni founded her label in 2011, and has equally drawn on the her own Indian heritage – re-interpreting prints, silhouette and colour in a modern way. Mizzi Studio responded with a series of mud-huts, stalls, and platforms that join together to form a experiential, undulating built terrain. The structures were constructed using different traditional techniques, built by local craftspeople working in tandem on site with Mizzi Studio’s remote team.
The design team identified the site’s key axes to best position the main structures whilst enhancing the character of the existing site. The result was a series of curvaceous volumes that followed an unified design language, flowing into and around one another without allowing the viewer’s eye to settle on any hard or angular surface. For most of the elements within the Garden, a weaving technique using horizontal (baati) and vertical (theeni) bundles of stalks forms the base structure. The remote team works closely with the local weavers to negotiate the different bend variations required out of the weaves in different parts of the design – ultimately adopting an iterative approach to perfecting the different forms. Creating excellent formal dialogue between the studio’s 3D model and the artisans’ plans on site was crucial to the successful end result.
Key aspects within the scheme that make up its most compelling moments are the angled skylights that catch the afternoon sunlight, the complex shape of the mud-bar that sweeps upward to form a central vertical pull, and the Holi Pyramid that invites visitors to encircle and dance around it. Within the huts dappled light leads visitors through a loose lattice tunnel that connects the different volumes, and finally the delicate thikri artwork adorning the surface of the each structures reflects that same light, colour and movement, bringing this unique Secret Garden to life in new and enchanting ways.
Location: Rajasthan, India
Status: Special project to mark Holi 2018
Key services: Design, visualisation, construction management