The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) organised a two-day (February 9-10, 2016) jewellery design forecasting seminar with participation from international and national experts who unravelled trends across India, Europe & the US. The aim of Design Inspirations was to give indepth insight about consumer behaviour patterns, aspirations, desires, emotions and feelings and how to translate them into thematic concepts and visual direction. The mantra of the seminar was ‘Create’ and ‘Communicate’ to stimulate a ‘Movement’ leading to a ‘Trendy Moment’!
Eminent speakers at Design Inspirations included Paola De Luca,Farah Ali Khan, Ishu Datwani, Gautam Banerjee, Pallavi Foley, Vaishali Banerjee, Reena Ahluwalia, Revathi Kant, Sachin Jain, Mithun Sacheti, Laksh Pahuja, Kapil Hetamsaria, Manreet Deol, Shimul Mehta Vyas and Anil Bharwani amongst others. Design Inspirations 2016, the annual event of the GJEPC, focused on good design and trends, offered a wide range of opinions and perspectives on various aspects of the theme. The vast canvas helped the participants deepen their understanding and grasp of the subject.
In his welcome speech, Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman, GJEPC, said, “The leading contemporary designers and future designers of India are the back bone of our industry. Jewellery is all about designs that catch the fancy and capture imagination of consumers. Designers need to have a flair for creativity, knowledge about different markets; and stay updated about the latest trends. They need to realise that designing for India is catering to just 10% of the global markets and therefore, they need to learn to create for diverse geographies. India is proud of our iconic designer Ambaji Shinde ‘who went global’ with Harry Winston and we need many more such designers to emerge from our country.”
Shailesh Sangani, Convener – Promotions, Marketing and Business Development, GJEPC, said, “Over the years, we have been able to master the skills for designing jewellery for the US, Europe and the Middle East countries; and have been fulfilling their jewellery requirements as per their changing trends and styles. Through Design Inspirations, our aim is to keep providing our industry the food for thought that will help them design jewellery pieces as per upcoming trends in the market. Today, the industry is facing competition from other luxury products and the challenge is to create innovative products for the millennial customers. By taking up new challenges and embracing design, our industry would further strengthen its credibility as a global, creative hub for jewellery. With a view to make this industry adaptive and future ready, speakers including top designers and entrepreneurs presented their studies on upcoming trends in India, the US and Europe.”
In her presentation, ‘Story of a Nugget’, Pallavi Dudeja Foley eulogised the ‘Timeless Trendy’ concept embracing adaptability, versatility, feasibility, ergonomics, evolutionary and disruption leading to unforgettable designs. Citing the example of Coco Chanel’s LBD (little black dress), she reiterated that the best way to forecast a fashion trend is to create it. Keynote speaker Shimul Mehta Vyas pointed out that today’s designs are being inspired by current social trends such as health and fitness consciousness; migration and social media.
Paola De Luca (The Futurist Ltd.) held a fascinating narration of the road from Design Strategy to Product Development, embellished with numerous real life examples from her own journey. The session covered multiple aspects of the process by which good jewellery is created such as designing, strategising, developing collections, merchandising and trend forecasting. During her presentation, Paula talked about the role of the designer in grasping what the market and the consumer wanted, searching for inspirations across a wide canvas and freezing the stories and concepts for new collections. She stressed that designing is not about “developing products” but about “creating collections”, and added that every collection must have its own visual language. This could be used to bring consistency in design elements across product categories, she explained. A good collection must have a mix of product categories, and the same iconic design and visual elements can be used to create large and small pieces, high end and more affordable pieces and could even be translated using different metals and gemstones. She outlined the various trend directions specifically for North America and Europe, going into details for each region and showing how they could be translated into jewellery collections. She concluded with a glimpse about the possible trends that are shaping up for next year.
Interspersing videos with his extempore speech, Ishu Datwani (Founder, Anmol) elaborated about ‘jewellery for real women’ and how important relationships are in creating loyal customers for a store brand. He said that there is a deep connection between ‘Design’ and ‘Success’ resulting in ‘priceless heirlooms passed on from generation to generation’. Gautam Banerjee emphasized the need for unconventional and innovative approach for pure and authentic creations inspired by everyday elements of life and nature. He highlighted that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything.
In a presentation laced with humour, Mithun Sacheti (Co-founder and CEO, CaratLane) spoke design being all about disruption and discovery. He spoke about the need for creating customised collections (very different from those sold at traditional outlets) for the fast-growing breed of online buyers. While talking about marketing online effectively, Kapil Hetamsatia (CEO, Velvet Case) spoke about the need to develop buyer persona, research, interviews and find out commonality in trends. He also reiterated the need to measure effectively and efficiently. He coined the trend of ‘Co-opetion: A word which is a combination of Co-operation & Competition.
Revathi Kant (AVP, Tanishq) spoke about how the Tanishq Design Studio has focussed on differentiated standardised products catering to different niche consumer groups and how they have set industry and branding benchmarks in the indigenous industry. Encapsulating her findings into 12 broad trends, she also spoke about the importance of translating customer feedback into exquisite design collections.
Vaishali Banerjee (Country Manager, Platinum Guild of India) spoke about insight-driven marketing appealing to basic truths about human behaviour. She also spoke about how newer materials such as platinum are gaining credence amongst the younger Indians in the active age group and how designers needs to understand modern lifestyles and form a strong heart-to-heart connect. Sachin Jain (President, Forevermark) held the audience spellbound with his presentation that was an ideal blend of attractive graphics, slick videos and a compelling narrative. He eulogised the ability to have a universal experience and emotional connect with your consumer as one of the hallmarks of a successful global brand, while the ability to customise and fine tune this to each specific market and cultural category was crucial to sustained growth and a lasting impact.
I don’t love to design but I live to design – with these words, Farah Khan Ali spoke about the elements that constitutes a designer jewellery brand, and the entire gamut of aspects related to it - from the creation of its identity, to its characteristics, its language, how to build it, brand loyalty and so on. You will know a designer brand’s identity from the niche it caters to! She spoke about leveraging Bollywood stars to promote jewellery designs and how to connect to international customers by using global design motifs for inspiration; as well as social digital media for branding and promotions.
Manreet Deol (Co-founder & Creative Director, Manifest Design) spoke about how creating your own trends is a personal expression & a personal view point. Manreet outlined the process by which her pieces of “everyday wearable art” are conceptualised and crafted. She added that a designer has to be constantly be open to new influences that lead to ideas and new techniques such as sandcasting. Laksh Pahuja discussed ways and means of “Building Iconic Pieces” where the piece truly reflects the individual, place or event that inspired it.
Reena Ahluwalia (Canadian jewellery designer) equated “Inspiration” with a state of mind and a process of collecting ideas and putting it together. “It is everywhere around us, we have to learn to see it,” she said while referring to attributes such as Openness, Curiosity, Collaboration, Outside-In thinking and Movement.
With his assertion, “If the consumer has not bought nobody has sold”, Shivaram (Founder, Retail Gurukul) pointed out that designers cannot be aloof from the needs of a business. Giving the example of ‘green lipstick’, he highlighted that designers need to know when design ends and merchandising starts. “You must know what consumer expectations are and develop lines that will be accepted by the market,” he said.
Celebrity stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania (Fashion Director, Vogue) spoke about diversity change resulting from a mix-match of fashion elements like putting together the various pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to create a look. She spoke about Jadau jewellery being very popular followed by cut-stones. Brides getting married in different seasons prefer designs inspired by seasons, she added.
Rudrajit Bose (Managing Partner, Atelier Anonyme) put forth a researched presentation dense with data titled Evolving Trend Ecosystem – A Bird’s Eye View of the Curve”. He said that the gems and jewellery industry faced the threat of “value migration” away from it to other industries like electronics, travel etc. He urged the industry to expend larger budgets on research and product development. He concluded by quoting Mahatma Gandhi to say: “The Future does depend on what we do right now.” Anil Bharwani (Partner, Seth Sundardas & Sons) said that he works directly with the kaarigars to give shape to ensure that every single piece is a collection in itself.
In his summary of the proceedings, Colin Shah of the GJEPC’s PMBD Sub-Committee which spearheaded the event announced that the Council now plans to take this initiative further and will be releasing a Trends book for the Indian market at the IIJS this year while also formalising a Trends Cell for the industry.