Lifestyle Fashion

Warli-wise with furniture: Check out White Studios’s latest 'Zoi collection'

What has empathy got to do with product design? Ask Gitesh Mehta, the founder of contemporary furniture and home decor company White Studios, and he says, “Just about everything.”

The 25-year-old elaborates, “Empathy coupled with sensitivity is the cornerstone of design. They breathe life into inanimate objects, transforming them from mere physical structures into emotional pieces. When infused with passion, patience, and curiosity, products carry an emotional depth too often missing from the world around us.” White Studios’s latest Zoi collection—named after the Greek word for ‘life’—aptly embodies Mehta’s belief system.

Imbuing the essence of Warli folk art, originating from the north Sahyadri range in Maharashtra, the line features sharp and sleek contemporary pieces, including serving plates, platters, candle holders and accent furniture.

Mehta’s product design journey began at the Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID), Gandhinagar, where hands-on learning encouraged him to engage with both theoretical concepts and their practical application. “I developed a profound interest in exploring diverse materials. Working with mediums such as wood, metal, acrylic, resin and leather, allowed me to appreciate their unique qualities, and understand their potential. I realised that true innovation in product design can only be achieved if one becomes intuitive of human needs and delivers tailor-made solutions,” he says.

Add to this, the founder’s background in production that primed him to explore countless possibilities. “Driven by the simple question—‘what if?’—I venture into the realms of form, colour, materiality and surface treatment with an open mind. Each product sketch then yields 100-150 iterations until the desired result is achieved,” says Mehta.

The proof is in the pudding. The Zoi floor lamp, for instance, is an imaginative fusion of tradition and innovation. Mehta experimented with various materials before settling on a solid crystal ball, given its refractive properties. The lamp is nestled in a custom-made holder, and the etched brass pieces bear classic Warli motifs. Another example is the centre table, the final design for which “emerged as a composition of glass and stacked balls, accentuated by brass pegs”.

“To make it stylish, we concealed Warli art within the wooden side structure. The juxtaposition of black-tinted glass and opaque black wood extend an unusual look,” he adds. Then there’s Jazzy, a charming decorative piece that features a Warli figure in brass with a crystal head playing the saxophone. It symbolises musical euphoria.

For a young man who thrives on validation for his work, recognition serves as a driving force but also induces fear.

“The fact that despite working hard, my efforts may go unnoticed makes me feel vulnerable. But in my pursuit of self-improvement, I work on finding that acknowledgement within myself. I accept my flaws, including stubbornness which I am working on,” says 25-year-old Mehta, who is equally aware of his strengths, the biggest one being the willingness to take risks.

He gets this from his father, “who has a terrific work ethic, resilience and determination. He embodies a sense of composure even in challenging situations and demonstrates a relentless drive to succeed”, he says. Big shoes to fill, but ones that make every step on his design journey worth it.

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