Mi Casa, Su Casa - Raseel Gujral Ansal talks with you & I

She is a connoisseur of the good life and truly embodies living life kingsize. This is evident in the way she dresses herself and styles her home. It is no wonder that Raseel is considered to be one of the most glamorous women in India.

What is Casa Pop all about?
Casa Pop launched two years ago as a luxurious yet fun home accessories brand. We are also looking into developing an online presence, but the market is still immature for this kind of product to be sold online. We at Casa Paradox are currently working on a large-scale 70-acre property in Goa, among other interesting architectural projects. Another key project is at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad.

How did the idea of Casa Paradox and Casa Pop come about?
My father Satish Gujral and brother Mohit, are both very illustrious creative forces in the art world. So it was natural for me to follow suit. I was working on a project more than 25 years ago, and there was nothing available of superior quality and contemporary design in India. And it was a time when imports weren’t allowed, either. So, Casa Pop was started more out of necessity, with my husband Naveen, as a project-based business.

However, that quickly changed since we had a lot of walk-ins asking us to make furniture, as our work was being admired and appreciated by many. It has all been a very organic process; there was a need and a demand, and we were able to capitalise on that. We were initially very hesitant about doing retail, and my husband was aghast because the idea of becoming “glorified shopkeepers” really shocked him (laughs). But we went ahead with it, and it eventually became very well received and grew tremendously.
As for Casa Pop – over a period of time I was only working on super high-end work, and there was a more irreverent side of me that I wanted to express. So four years ago, I launched a collection called Illustrati, which represented the drama of everyday life. The audience for Casa Pop are people with a younger spirit, for the brand is essentially high-voltage living for the urban diva. Our patrons are fashion-conscious, yet Indian in their expression.

What inspires you?
Everything! I find inspiration everywhere, in the mundane details of life – whether a film, fashion or any other avenues of life. I’m like a sponge…always taking something in.

Your style is bold and daring. How do you have the confidence to pull it off?
That’s very much a part of who I am. In the evening if I am going out, I love dressing Indian… in sarees, etc. I love Indian clothes and textiles, and I’m very feminine in the way I express myself with clothes in terms of colour. In the day I dress quite casually, in jeans and whatever else works in the given climate.

You also have a beautiful home… What tips would you give to someone who’s decorating their home?
Be uninhibited in expressing yourself and don’t be bound to trends. As a designer, I listen a lot. The idea is to understand people – who they are, how they live, how they interact as a family, how they express themselves, where they want to be, and what their dreams are. And then sort through it, edit it and express it in a compact narrative.

What is it that makes one glamorous?
Glamour comes with being confident and bold; there’s fearlessness in expression and it’s utterly personal. I find it difficult to deconstruct why people find someone glamorous, since it’s a very relative concept – the sense of the person that comes through transcends time. Maharani Gayatri Devi and my mother, Kiran, are the women I find eternally glamorous. I don’t find Bollywood glamorous at all, since they are all about stylists.

Who do you credit for your creative spirit?
Definitely my mother, since she was a multifaceted woman who did all kinds of things. The environment we all grew up in was very conducive to creativity. My mother has been everybody’s critic, and a very informed one at that.

It was an extremely exciting and stimulating environment to grow up in because it was never static; it was always changing. My father was always experimenting and his study was in the house. So everything was happening right around us, whether it was murals, paintings or architecture. We were all very much part of it, imbibing through osmosis. That was home and what we took for granted to be our normal lives. It was a great way to grow up!        ---- as told to Suneela