“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” – Paul Rand
Design is an all-encompassing phenomenon that captures the intricacies of life, the bounty of nature and all things in between. Good design gives a different perspective to mundane things in our lives while being powerfully evocative at the same time.
The Japanese design philosophy is a branch of design that follows a simple and modest approach. It reminds one of the calm, understated Zen aesthetic that the Japanese are so well-connected to. Reshma Chhabria Kumar scooped up these Japanese design sensibilities, added a dollop of Indian values to them and conjured up an exquisite concoction by the name of HIIH. Pronounced as H2H, the young home artefacts and decor brand brings a collection of well-crafted, beautiful decor pieces for those selective in their interior design pursuits.
Reshma Chhabria Kumar, an interior designer by profession with a Diploma in Interior Design from P.V. Polytechnic, Mumbai, has 14 years of experience in the field, having worked with eminent architects such as Shaukat Mukhi and Pronit Nath for six years and then establishing her own design consultancy, Design Studio in 2006. But with interior designing, she felt that she couldn’t always put her ideas and concepts into practice.
She shares, “Sometimes the freedom of expression can get curtailed when designing for a client. Being an interior designer, I always felt a void in being able to design every small detail including the décor pieces. This was my avenue of expressing and filling that void.” This is what inspired her to start out as a product designer. But it was when she moved to Tokyo that she eventually gave wings to her dreams of forming HIIH.
At present, HIIH retails products in the categories of vases, candle stands and dining decor pieces. However, they are geared up to launch their next product range this month which will add lamps, clocks, statues and other varied decor pieces clocking a total of 100 odd new designs. Each product by HIIH has an uncommon twist to it, thanks to the Japanese aesthetics involved in the designing process.
The seven core Japanese aesthetic principles of asymmetry, simplicity, austerity, naturalness, subtleness, tranquillity and breaking away from convention are seemingly at play in HIIH’s products. They possess a minimalistic quality combined with intricate details, well-known to India. This forms a brilliant, good-looking decor piece which also has all the qualities of being a conversation starter. For Reshma, it’s the “Japanese people and their culture” that have made the most profound impact on her designs.
The brand’s ideology is simple – the belief that every piece in an environment has a purpose, and that it must be well selected, well crafted, and beautiful.
Her experience in interior design gave her an edge, as she has worked with some of the best artisans. She adds, “I’ve met a lot of extremely talented artisans who didn’t have the platform of the design knowledge to push their expertise. We have tried to channelise that, and the experience has been fantastic so far.” The extent of her rapport with the artisans, both Indian and Japanese, is evident in the fact that they are given the freedom to source the apt raw material required for the products they create.
A typical HIIH artefact takes a maximum of four weeks from start to finish and they tend to customisation requests from patrons who order regularly. These one-of-a-kind decor accessories can be procured from their own website or www.engrave.in. However, there’s good news for those keen to touch and feel these collectibles in person, before making a purchase, as a little birdie tells me that it might be a gleaming possibility in the near future.
Text By Rehana Hussain