Indo-Deco and Viren Bhagat: A Brief Look at Art Deco in Indian Design

Amy Lin of Saffronart explores one of the facets of the role Art Deco continues to play in Indian design

New York: Contemporary jewelry designer Viren Bhagat draws on India’s past in his work and fuses Art Deco with traditional Indian designs. Recently the subject of an in-depth Vanity Fair profile, and featured in prestigious boutiques like F.D. or Fiona Druckenmiller in Manhattan, Bhagat’s pieces combine various design influences, including the clean lines of Art Deco and the dramatic flair of Mughal motifs. This enchanting diamond, ruby and natural pearl brooch for example, beautifully combines immaculate diagonals and flat diamonds with floral arabesques and a teardrop tassel.

Diamond, Ruby and Natural Pearl Brooch by Viren Bhagat
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In a New York Times interview, Drunkenmiller describes Mr. Bhagat’s works as “sumptuous, elegant, (and) romantic…He only uses the best stones, drawing inspiration from traditional Mogul design, but adding touches that are contemporary and uniquely his own.” But where does the idea for Bhagat’s hybrid come from?

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan building, a fine example of the Deco-Saracenic style in Mumbai.
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As it turns out, Art Deco is an important component of India’s artistic heritage. Following Miami, Mumbai has the greatest number of Art Deco buildings in the world, located in not one, but two distinct Deco precincts. The style called Deco-Saracenic, which fuses Art Deco with Hindu and Islamic aesthetics, is unique to India. Strong, sleek lines are interwoven with sensuous curves in both architecture and the decorative arts. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan building is a fine example of the Deco-Saracenic style, where geometric exteriors are rounded off with stylized domes. Such Deco trends in Mumbai came shortly after the First World War, when elegance and modernity became driving forces in Indian society.

A Natural Pearl and Diamond Ring, by Viren Bhagat
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Viren Bhagat gives the idea of Deco-Saracenic a contemporary twist by applying it tojewelry. Bhagat’s one of kind ring, pictured below, dons a whimsical Mughal crown and springs to a life of its own, recalling past glories. Another pair of floral earrings, also pictured below, combines geometric shapes with ingenuity, using un-faceted diamonds.

In the coming weeks, Saffronart will also celebrate India’s jewelry and Art Deco heritages through its annual Autumn Auction of Fine Jewels and Watches and its inaugural Art Deco auction featuring furniture, silver, crystal, lighting and more.

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