India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Fashion
March 10, 2017

Inside Raw Mango’s Rustic New Store

Text by Sadaf Shaikh. Videography by Siddhant Jain

Sanjay Garg and Isla Maria ‘Loulou’ van Damme talk about the making of the brand’s first Mumbai store

Last evening, after being greeted with the languid fragrance of jasmine, we made our way to the opening of Raw Mango’s first store in Mumbai. The sweeping verandahs, antique almirahs, and brass counters, all welcomed us to explore Sanjay Garg’s famous handwoven textiles. Surrounded by the store’s old-world charm, we sat down for a rendezvous with the designer, accompanied by Isla Maria ‘Loulou’ van Damme (who met Garg when she was organising several pop-ups at Bungalow 8). Discover their working style, similar design sensibility, and everything that went into the making of this new store.

The process 

Sanjay Garg: “Three of us worked in tandem, melding our minds together. Ashiesh Shah provided interior expertise while Loulou helped with the design aesthetic. I was here every single day giving my inputs on everything from the artifacts and paintings to the furniture.”

Loulou: “I’d like to think that I help Sanjay catalyse his ideas. His ethics align with my own; he is flexible enough to experiment but also stands his ground during tough circumstances. I aid him in making up his mind during those inevitable moments of stress.”

The vibe
SG: “You will notice that every element in the store has a very raw and rustic feel to it – the cupboards, collectibles, artifacts, even the terracotta horses at the entrance. I’ve tried to keep the decor as functional as possible, to reflect my brand’s clean ethos.”

L: “One of Sanjay’s strong points is that he brings out the beauty of India with his rich colour palette. His woven creations are filled with stories and come from hours of research on Indian crafts and history.”

Striking moments 
SG: “The three of us learned something new every day. We made many mistakes but treated them as stepping stones. And somehow we stumbled on four previously undiscovered windows that allow ample sunlight to flood the room. This worked very well since I always wanted a store with minimum artificial light.”

L: “For me, it was discovering Sanjay as a person. I saw a passionate, hardworking and humble man, with an unambiguous vision of how he wanted to work and live.”

Favourite spaces
SG: “The open verandah and the room upstairs which is always flooded with natural light.”

L: “It’s just the entire vibe you get from the store — the clothes, the soothing decor and the carefully curated art pieces.”

The evolution 
SG: “I believe that we are all in a constant state of evolution, as human beings. As a designer, my DNA responds to how a design develops. I’ve realised that we really know so little in such a vast realm of possibility.”

L: “Sanjay is always questioning his own work, which I think is an admirable quality for a designer. He’s always on the move, dreaming big, drawing inspiration from his surroundings, designing his furniture and collecting antiques. The amount of activity he manages to pack into a day is simply amazing.”

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