Furniture Designer India: Tigerlily By Aparna

cushion cover design TIGERLILY9Tigerlily by Aparna™ is a line of one- of- a kind furniture pieces, lifestyle products and bespoke spaces. The concept is ‘whimsical, unique, luxury’ design for individuals with a strong sense of taste, style and humor. Furniture Designer India

What inspired you to pursue a career in design ?

I’ve always been a fan of design in any and every form. Whether in spaces, fashion or lifestyle, the design element always fascinates me. Tigerlily was prompted by a deep need to design. After trying to ‘play safe’ and make life decisions based on comfort, I finally decided to take a chance on my passion.

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Even though I’m not formally educated in design, I finally ‘took the plunge’ and started my own brand. Anything that pleases my eye is a masterpiece for me. I’m mostly self- taught when it comes to design, but looking at and observing great works of architecture always inspires me. I have a passion for great design and seek my inspiration from such varied sources.

Whether it is the awe inspiring work of Antonio Gaudi or the beautifully structured work of Lutyens, the serene, contemplative work of Geoffrey Bawa or the colourful energy of a New York Loft by Amanda Nisbet, I can lose myself for hours just enjoying the beauty of their work.

What were the early experiences that shaped your design philosophy? How was Tigerlily conceptualised?

profile TIGERLILY7I come from a non-design educational background.

I completed my post-graduation, an MA in Education Management, from Kings College, London University. I’ve always been interested in design and have designed several childrens’ spaces, classrooms and playrooms. After my MA I did a short course in Child Care Design from Harvard. For the next 2 years, I worked as an education consultant, creating schools from ground up.

My scope of work included school design and infrastructure, staffing and administration et al. But it was always the design aspect that fascinated me. In 2006, I went to work as a creative producer for the Indian office of a Canadian animation company. For the next 5 years, I co-wrote, creatively produced and directed 78 episodes of an award-winning pre-school animated show. It was there, while designing and breathing life into the layouts of these beautiful, fantasy animated towns that I realised how much I loved the spatial aspect of design, and decided to pursue it full-time. And Tigerlily was born.

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My design philosophy: I believe that a home is the reflection of the people living in it. But as much, it is also a space that can aspire a person to be the best version of themselves that they can be. The flow of energy between the space and the people occupying it is organic. I strongly believe that a space must reflect the experiences and travels of a person, and be a microcosm of their universe. Most importantly, I believe in imbuing each space with a little bit of magic, to take it away from the ordinary.

What are the various aspects of the Tigerlily portfolio?

I love all things whimsical, eccentric and colourful. I seek inspiration from any and everything around me — the dynamic, ever-changing world with its gorgeous palette of colours. My inspirations are vastly varied. Renaissance art inspires me as much as my 9-year-old niece’s colourful scribbles do.

The colours, diversity and history of India inspire me. I love salvaging antiques. They have such stories to tell, such rich histories. I absolutely adore anything miniature and am a big fan of fairy tales.

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In fact, ‘Tigerlily by Aparna’ is named after the Red Indian Princess Tigerlily from ‘Peter Pan’. Most of all, I believe in making things magical, in taking spaces away from the ordinary and imbuing them with a bit of fantasy. The things I love inspire all my designs.

Tell us more about the process that goes into the making of each piece. Share with us the various kinds of projects you have worked on.

From design to execution is a labour of love and patience. I’m lucky to have found a good team of artisans and skilled workers who help to give shape to my dreams.


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Tigerlily was established in the last quarter of 2011. My first chair was the ‘Bangle Box’ chair. Thus far, under the Tigerlily Banner, I’ve done 3 home projects- 1 home makeover and 2 interior projects. In the past year, I’ve designed 7 lines of chairs (a total of 22 different and unique pieces) and 5 lines of soft furnishings. The portfolio was on display at the India Design ID 2013 in Delhi in February. I’m also proud to state that Tigerlily won a IIID Anchor Award commendation in Furniture Design in Feb 2012 from the prestigious IIID (Institute of Indian Interior Designers).

Before Tigerlily was conceived, in the last decade, I designed several childrens’ spaces. I’ve designed classrooms, libraries, playrooms et al. Each project I’ve worked on has been unique in its demands and challenges and I’ve enjoyed each thoroughly.

Is each piece made to order? Do you also retail ?

No, each piece is not made to order, but I do take orders for bespoke pieces. I retail out of my website currently and am in talks with a exclusive site (name later!) to display and sell my wares.

What has the response been like and what in particular do customers find most interesting?

Interesting response. Mostly very positive. Most customers seem to love the ‘Polly Perch’ chair, the ‘Tiled Frond’ chair and the ‘Bangle Box’ chair.

The furniture designs are quite unique–what were some of the initial challenges?

Initial challenges varied from lack of good artisans, time and budget constraints, to finding a good price point for the pieces — to make them easily accessible to more people whilst not compromising on the quality of the product.

Also, since the designs are mostly larger than life, it took many tries to get the actual practical aspects ironed out — how to make a sturdy, comfortable chair, which looks like a work of art!

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If only doorknobs could talk, like they did to Alice in the rabbit hole, then this one would surely have a magical tale to tell! A fantastical piece straight out of Alice’s Wonderland, this ‘Statement Chair’ soars on Aparna’s flight of fancy! It is shaped like an antique door handle, complete with a proportionate keyhole and key on a key ring. The heart shaped key is made to size, and can be fitted into the keyhole. This whimsical, luxurious piece of furniture is lovingly hand-made using the best quality materials. It is imaginatively designed and skilfully executed, made in exquisitely carved Grade A teak wood.

Fantasy reigns supreme in this piece. The designer seeks inspiration from the fairy tale of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to make this larger-than-life doorknob. The designer also uses references of antique metal door fixtures to bring this chair to life.

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Master carvers delicately carved this chair with flowers, butterflies and a key in relief. The eye for detail is evident, with slender, free-standing wooden antennae attached to the butterfly that sits atop this piece. The piece is polished in a rich mahogany tint. Gilt accents are hand-painted onto the frame. The chair is upholstered in rich brocade and silk. The key and the key ring are stand alone pieces, with the key hanging from the keyhole.

Whimsy meets practicality in this lavish, towering ‘Statement Chair’. The chair doubles as a fully functional Bangle Box. It encloses 4 racks of bangles, which can be replaced as per the preference of the buyer, by simply opening the lid and sliding the acrylic front cover off the chair. This uber luxurious piece of furniture is lovingly hand-made using the best quality materials. This piece towers at 6 feet, 2 inches and is very comfortable. The combination of Indian temple colours, a typically Indian bangle box design and the ornately hand-carved wood frame makes this piece innately Indian, with an international appeal for its sheer uniqueness.

Aparna used a traditional Indian Bangle Box design as a base for this piece. The designer seeks inspiration from the typical South Indian temple colours to hand paint and lacquer it. Additionally, this piece is exquisitely hand carved in Grade A Teak Wood and harks back to the days of larger than life, ornate furniture. The chair is upholstered in pure silk.

The chair is hand-carved by master carvers. It is gilded in an antique gold paint finish, overlaid in bright multi colours and then machine finished. The acrylic box is filled with multi-coloured hand-made silk bangles. This chair can be customised in wood finishes or a single colour tone (metallic or non- metallic).

This chair is designed to be the focal point of the room and draw attention towards itself. The designer plays with form and colour, pushing the boundaries of accepted design norms.

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This ‘Statement Chair’ is another version of the Bangle Box design. It encloses 3 racks of multi-coloured silk bangles, which can be replaced as per the preference of the buyer, by simply opening the lid and sliding the acrylic front cover off the chair. The chair is made of hand-carved teak wood and upholstered in digitally printed satin silk. It is a comfortable, sturdy chair.

The chair is hand-carved in teak by master carvers in Mumbai. The piece is first hand-painted in matte finish and then machine finished.

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A delicate frond of flowers is hand-tiled with custom made mosaics in myriad hues to make this ornate chair. Upholstered with brocade and hand painted and lacquered in bright, ‘Indian Temple’ colours, this ‘Statement Chair’ is a whimsical, luxurious piece of furniture, lovingly hand-made using only the best quality materials. It is a very comfortable, sturdy chair made of Grade A Teak wood. The use of multi-media in this beautiful, floral shaped design, its intricacy and skill of execution and sheer opulence, all make this chair unique.

The designer’s love of nature and all flora is evident here. The frame of the chair is shaped like a larger-than-life bouquet of multi-coloured floral fronds, tied together. Mosaic tiles are custom-made to fit within the petals of each flower, to enhance the beauty and ornamentation of this piece. Again, Aparna seeks inspiration from the typical South Indian temple colours to hand-paint and lacquer this piece in bright shades.

The chair is hand-carved by master carvers. The chair back is made of 2-inch thick teak with grooves carved into it to signify the petals of the flowers. Each petal is of different size and dimensions. Each petal has been hand tiled with specially made customised glass mosaic tiles of varying sizes. The piece is first hand-painted and then machine finished. The chair is upholstered in rich purple brocade. This chair can be customised in shiny or matte wood polish or in a single colour tone (metallic or non-metallic).

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The designer’s love of whimsy manifests in this unique, quirky piece. A parrot with multi hued plumage sits atop a carved wooden chair-back made to resemble a cage complete with brass bars. Polly the parrot dips its beak delicately into a metal ‘katori’ full of its favourite food, chillies.

In keeping with the designer’s love of all things colourful and graceful, this creation pays homage to a parrot’s timeless beauty. The designer has tried to recreate the parrot’s multi hued plumage, whilst making the chair into its perch!

The chair is delicately hand carved in teak by master carvers. The upper back of the chair is the bird’s plumage, clad in padded silk panels that have been skilfully hand-embroidered in shimmering multi-media sequins to reflect the iridescent beauty of the parrot’s wings.

The perch is made of a carved wooden frame with brass metal bars embedded into it. The bird gracefully dips its beak into a brass metal bowl, attached to the right hand side back support bar of the chair. The piece is gilded and hand painted and then machine finished.

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