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While there have always been fantastic traditional metal cooking and dinnerware options in the country, for decades now Stainless Steel has reigned supreme in our kitchens. Lightweight, easy to maintain, inexpensive, Stainless Steel utensils are the under-appreciated warriors of our homes. But that kind of dependability also makes a material seem kinda unsexy, too approachable. Well, that's a matter of perception, and we'd like to change it.
We enlisted the creativity of floral artist Nazneen Jehangir as our guest stylist for this makeover. Nazneen’s Mumbai-based floral studio Libellule has a reputation for artistic, artisanal designs that elevate bouquets and floral arrangements to a thoughtful artform. She’s brought the same approach to trusty Stainless Steel, combining everyday objects with a floral partner, creating perfect tableaux. An introduction to Nazneen, and the styles she’s created…
Q: How did you come to start Libellule?
A: After being in the event industry for many years I realised that there aren’t many options when it came to flowers. At that time, we were restricted to Roses, Liliums and Carnations, which restricted the creative process. I noticed the gap and got myself certified in this segment. I started importing flowers that worked in our environment from agencies worldwide. At that stage nobody in the market was doing any kind of imports. Nobody knew what a Hydrenza was. Ten years down the line the scene is quite different, but I can proudly say that we were the first ones to bring floral variety in the event space.
Q: How do you categorise your work?
A: I think our style is very different, because we are very focused on seasonality. We try to retain an Indian eye with a global outlook. We offer creative combinations, for e.g. we use lotus pods with Hydrenzas. Keeping the environment in mind, we are taking steps towards a more responsible production. We have now joined hands with local farms to grow micro quantities so that we don’t rely on imports as much.
Q: What is your process from idea to execution like?
A: Firstly, I understand the client’s objective and what they are expecting. Then I work backwards from there to find the least obvious route, which offers a creative yet surprising output.
Q: Tell us about the looks you’ve created with Stainless Steel and flowers…
A: We’ve looked at five situations, and how steel and florals can be combined in surprising ways. I wanted to avoid the traditional Indian approach towards the material and upscale it to achieve a luxurious yet unexpected look.
1. A Formal Setting
Stainless Steel laid out on a formal dinner table, comes as a bit of a surprise. In this setting, Nazneen choose the copper-plated stainless steel, a unique combination in itself. She paired the plates with golden thalis and used them as charger plates. Next, she placed tiny bowls as absent pieces with candles in them to add some light and colour to the table. “The idea was to bring in a Baroque style by using an intrinsically Indian material.” To elevate the look further she placed a formal looking setting of the Hydrangea flowers in a steel punch bowl. Keeping the florals neutral won’t demand too much attention yet will lend a sense of gravitas to the look.
2. For Coffee And Cake
Ceramic mugs or cups are usually synonymous with coffee. For this look though the mugs are Stainless Steel. Another practical addition to this look was the coffee press, which in this material stays unaffected by the acidity of coffee. Other than the ice cream cups, we chose to use a sugar container that resembled a bee to add a touch of interest to the setting. To finish the look, there’s a small and simple floral arrangement.
3. Just Casual
A casual table setting can be made interesting by simply thinking a little differently. Here, lotas have been used in various ways, as a cutlery holder, even a vase. To make it more interesting, the florals sit on two different heights on a candle holder. The mixing bowls as salad servers and a cake stand as a serving station. The topiaries were added to remind the viewer of a French garden and the Kumquat flowers bring the feel of summer.
4. Drinks At The Bar
For the bar space, pairing stainless steel with deep hues and tones will easily set the mood for a drink. Using elements from the bar like the wine chiller as a vase to hold the floral arrangement gives it an interesting look. Nazneen chose a lapis and steel nut bowl and wine chiller to add a touch of luxury to the setting. The wine goblets come from an antique collection and offer a spot of character.
5. Just A Regular Day
Coffee and steel usually means filter coffee in a little tumbler. But here, this could be a teatime setting, or a coffee break. The whole setting is in monochrome, the steel is the main event, brightly uplifted by a splash of green.
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