West London Living: Interview
Darshana Shilpi Rouget, artist and creative director of Alba Amicorum invites us into her world of luxury wearable art.
Explain to us a little bit about the concept behind Alba Amicorum?
Alba Amicorum is about experiencing art on an intimate level. Blurring the boundary between art and fashion, Alba Amicorum presents a collection of luxury scarves, each design being a limited-edition work of art from artists around the globe.
What was the design process like?
For the debut collection, alongside my own work, I called on the talents of my father and close friends that I’ve garnered through my career in New York. After I’d settled on the dimensions of the scarf, which effectively gave us the canvas, each artist contributed a selection of pieces. We then edited the selection down to form a curated final collection. I worked closely with a production house in Italy to print the designs on silk and modal.
What was the time period between the idea for Alba Amicorum and when the collection was launched?
It took me roughly three years from idea to launch. First to crystallize the idea, then bringing the artists together, developing the collection and creating the identity for the brand itself, before finally launching the collection at the Saatchi Gallery.
Was it an important factor to have artists and designers from different disciplines?
In my career as an art director I have found that the amalgamation of different viewpoints bring new perspectives to old ways. Also there is a unique charm and aesthetic across disciplines that work in a complementary fashion.
How did you decide which designs would work best on silk, modal or a blend of the two?
It is to do with the type of art, not only in its technique but feeling of the design. Silk brings out the sharp detailed images and also keep the vibrancy of colour, whereas the modal is wonderful to convey softness and blended tones. Some designs fall between the two, so I used a mix of the two fabrics.
The scarf Indian Carousel was actually created by your father in the ’40s. Was this a favourite piece of yours growing up?
Both my parents were instrumental in making art the centre of my life. I love several of my father’s works so it’s hard to pick a favourite. He was a wonderful storyteller and I feel that the Indian Carousel represents this well. I also love the secular subject of this story and wanted it to be in my debut collection.
I love the custom-made Paulownia wooden boxes that the scarves are presented in. Tell us about these…
These gift boxes, known as tomobako have a long tradition in Japan where typically pottery is presented and stored in these boxes. They are signed by the creator and serve as authentication for the content. It gives a particular appreciation for what is inside. Besides the revered qualities of the Paulownia wood, such as the lightweight and resistance to rot and cracks, for me it is also the beauty in its simplicity.
Having lived in so many countries where have has inspired you most?
Every place offers its own inspiration and adds to one’s experiences. I have loved and learned much from each place and it is in individuals that I have found the deepest inspiration. I truly feel that I am a citizen of each of these countries and it is a wonderful feeling. This is the reason for me to have a brand that belongs to no particular country or culture; I want it to be a celebration and interconnection between art, passion and ultimately people.
Why did you decide to settle in London?
For love. My husband was based in London and at the time it was easier for me to move from New York City and work from London than it was for my husband to move to NYC. I have now been in London almost eight years and I love west London, having both my studio and home based in Kensington.
Where in London is your favourite place to shop for exclusive, luxury pieces?
John Eskenazi’s Asian art gallery in Little Venice. John and his wife Fausta show their incredible collection by private appointment at their beautiful gallery. John’s scholarly knowledge of the history and deep passion for his collection are contagious.
What’s next for Alba Amicorum?
We will be including more artists from all corners of the globe with each new collection. The next collection, out in the autumn, will add six new limited-edition scarves, and a few surprises…