Each creation by jewellery designer Lara Morakhia carries a slice of rich Indian history.
Designing wearable art is embedded in her DNA. “My paternal grandmother’s family was from Rangoon (erstwhile Burma) where they traded in diamonds, rubies and emeralds. My grandfather was also a trader in precious stones, so in some ways, I have inherited their love for jewellery,” says jewellery designer Lara Morakhia as we settle down over a chat in her Mumbai studio.
Indian art and design forms Lara’s creative crucible, where she lets the designs brew. It is an instant marination of ideas, with her mind lending shape to her exhaustive insights.
Old coins, bits of silver, pearls, gold drops, bone, wood, leather, colourful beads: Lara visualises all these different, broken shapes, and pieces them cohesively to unify them. “It is my aim to craft universal appeal in each piece I design. Silver pieces, gold jadau, pearls and beads are roughly tied together by hand to create shapes that slowly morph into ear rings, rings, kadas and neckpieces. Diversity brings it all together,” she shares with the seasoned ease of a born artist.
Indian art threads the palpable and the tacit together to fuse in a novel form that woos you in each of her creations. Lara attributes her exhaustive insight into art, to her treasure trove of paintings. “I have a vast collection of artworks: it helps to relax my mind and enhances my creativity on a sublime level,” she says and adds, “I have never studied art but it is palpable in all my surroundings in the way I live or even when I look at any sculpture or painting... it is a very intuitive process.”
A doctor by profession, Lara took to honing her finesse with precious stones, metals and valuable trinket trivia when an unfortunate trekking accident left her bedridden for a while. Taking up the challenge of feeding her mental appetite and maximising her time and her inborn penchant for shaping rivetting jewellery, Lara began to design pieces of wearable art, literally. The themes and inspiration dip freely into Indian heritage. “Indian art and design are my biggest influences. It is difficult to isolate a single source of stimuli for my designs, rather, I bring together various influences from my private collections to external ones. These include antique royal textiles, jewellery and ensembles from Rajasthan, Patiala, Baroda, and Hyderabad and paintings by Raja Ravi Varma.”
It is as if the visual tapestry of Indian art unravels magically across her creations, stemming from the colour palette in paintings to the eyes in an artistic rendition on the canvas or the garb stroked forth by the painter. “My thought process is very intuitive because I live, breathe and speak in design,” she confesses. “And then there is a controlled energy in the detail and layer I give in each and every piece for it to stand out, original and unique,” she adds.
Lara travels constantly, in her quest to create and surpass her own works. She scours antique shops, flea markets, auctions and private collections. “Nothing limits my creativity so I am constantly looking for antiques and unusual things — Rajasthan, Kutch, Bhutan, Nepal, Southern India — the realm is limitless,” says Lara. That every piece she designs has a history to it, she counts as her biggest blessing, as she funnels her artistic energies into the revival of the antique and vintage in contemporary design for people to wear and appreciate.
An avid researcher of antique art, textiles and antique tribal jewellery, Lara collects vintage pieces of jewellery and other rare treasures that she incorporates in her designs. “To me, jewellery represents seamlessly amalgamating different cultures, and challenging the norms of what is considered to be traditional jewellery. Jewellery is a natural extension of my personality,” she adds.