Home Profile- For the Love of Dogs

Home Profile for The Address- Times of India

There are some who hesitate to adopt a pet citing lack of space. And then there is Rubina Dhankar Qadir Din, who insists that her home in Gurgaon belongs to her 46 dogs while she and her husband share the space with them.

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“Life has a strange way of working out.” Rubina says as we meet at her Barsati (terrace), which has been converted to a Living cum Dining space of their house. “I was married and living in Mumbai with my first husband for 14 years. At that point I was a journalist with NDTV and Times now. After my marriage ended I moved to Delhi with my mother and started working with JJ Vallaya as a brand manager,” she continues while sipping her herbal tea. After a few years she moved back and started an ad production company. During this time she dabbled in Interior Design for friends. Finally in 2012 Rubina moved back to Delhi where she met my current husband Abdul Qadir, a fitness instructor and Dog lover as she discovered. “Soon after we started living together in my condo in Gurgaon we started adopting street dogs. No one wanted these dogs and most had terminal illness’s. We started with 12 dogs who have now slowly gone up to 46,”

In the beginning of 2015 they decided to put the condo on rent and look for a larger house with open spaces for the dogs. She shares, “It was getting expensive to take care of them on just my husband’s income so I tried to figure career prospects too. Meanwhile, I put up images of the condo at various sites looking for people to rent.  People started complimented me on the space and design. Soon they started asking me to design their homes.”

The ground floor of the villa was also styled by her, but as the dogs grew in number the space appeared  more lived in. As a result they decided to focus on a living space at the Barsati. The Barsati has two basic rooms, converted as a living and dining area with the open space offering outdoor seating. The two rooms in fact have been left as raw as possible, with just single brick layers of the walls, tin roofs and aluminium doors.

Despite the almost raw sense of style, the space appears inviting. In her own words, “My style is very rustic chic and that is the style I am comfortable with. A lot of the furniture you see here has been designed by me, I believe in reasonably priced furniture but I’ll splurge on accessories. Fortunately my husband is also very house proud. He loves to gift me gorgeous home accents from different designers and stores. As a result, I have a collection of plates from Good Earth and some accessories from Oma. However, the two pieces which have stayed with me from my first house, is the Nepalese Tara statue and the Limited collection Fab India cabinet,” Perhaps due to the overall sense of bareness, we can’t help but notice the trunks. She confesses, “My husband is a hoarder and since the ground floor is devoted to the dogs, we had to find a creative way to store his t-shirts. To find a suitable storage solution, I sourced traditional trunks and made them work as part of the décor.”

Along with the trunk another very noticeable element is mirrors. There are at least three-four in each room along with posters and frame. For Rubina the use of mirrors came naturally, as she loves them, “I think they add character to a space, so I use them a lot. But most people can’t tell how many there are, as I place them in unique ways, each reflecting something unique, for instance the one in the living space reveals the reflection of the chandelier,” she shares.

When she initially started her business, Rubina would request clients to provide dog food as payment for her services. However she soon realised that people could be quite unfair. Sometimes, she would receive only two bags of dog food as payment for the whole house. “That experience shocked me. So now I have a transparent fee structure for my interior styling services. My business really picked up after eight months of styling homes. In fact, now I am tie-ups with different designers such as Sarita Handa, Elvy and so on.” she explains.

With 46 dogs living at home doesn’t entertaining guests pose a unique challenge, we wonder. She agrees, “We used to be sociable, but now with the dogs we rarely go out and even if people come over we hang out at the Barsati. However, my husband and I are both very content with the direction our lives have taken for both us and our babies,”

 

Inspiration India

When Slumdog Millionaire released, most of my Indian friends were quite mortified by the portrayal of India in the movie. I never really got down to watching the film, besides bits and pieces when it came on television. And I am certain if I were to watch the whole movie I really would not have been offended. What I have been noticing though is the major influence India has been making in the design and fashion circuit since the movie. I mean earlier Indian inspiration came only in form of prints and a few graphic symbols like Laxmi or Ganesh on T-shirts and Bedcovers, which came in the category of street fashion or hippie fashion, or there would be a one-off India inspired piece. Whereas now, there are full collections by renowned fashion and design houses which are being inspired by India. And I don’t blame them, in terms of design India has got a whole lot of inspiration, from natural beauty to the fabrics and colours and most importantly its vast history and tradition.

The Louis Vuitton India Enchanted Story

It could well be said that this is because luxury markets have taken a huge hit in Europe and America, while in India it has seen a steady growth. Whatever the reason I am quite kicked by the fact that India is inspiring so many people and collections. After all, I don’t know how many more time I can answer “So do you travel be elephants?” or be known only for snake charmers. The answer to the question by the way is, no we don’t travel by elephants most of us have cars and snake charmers are just one of the market side appeals of the country, no one has pet snakes at home. Here are a few Luxury brands which have showcased Indian inspiration in the recent past.

INDIA INSPIRED FASHION

Chanel Metiers d’Arts 2012 Pre-Fall collection titled “Paris-Bombay”

This year Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld delivered his India inspired collection at the Chanel Metiers d’Arts 2012 Pre-Fall collection titled “Paris-Bombay”. The collection features intricate embroideries, raw silk and other extravagant materials characterise an exquisite combination of delicate Indian handcrafts and Parisian fashion. Models both men and women were adorned with accessories including head-jewellery and turbans. In Lagerfeld’s words “it is the Paris version of the idea of India”. The colours were from Fuchsia, to ivory-white to gold and silver.
Louis Vuitton made headlines in the past when they came out with their collection of bags inspired by India and even changed the window display of their stores by displaying an artwork of Hindu goddess ‘Laxmi’ during Diwali festival. LVMH even launched a collection ‘L’ame du Voyage’ which is inspired by travels in India and the range consists of handbags, travel bags, jewelry and accessories.
Hermes another iconic fashion brand, had recently launched its limited edition Sarees which are an extension of the famous ‘Hermes’ scarf. A silhouette which dates back more than 1,000 years has now been accepted as a ‘must-have’ drape in the fashion world. These Sari’s begin at $6,000 and since most of Hermes clients are Indian millionaires it is considered quite a steal. They also did a whole India inspired collection of scarves with bright colours and motifs like the elephant.

INDIA INSPIRED PERFUMES

Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, Hermes

In terms of beauty product and scents India has a vast history. There are a variety of materials which originate in India and have inspired designers over the years, like Sandalwood, Jasmine, Cardamom and many more. But over the years more and more Luxury brands and indulging in bringing out India inspired collections.
One of the best and oldest perfumes of great success was Shalimar by Guerlain produced in 1925. Shalimar was inspired by the love of an Indian Emperor for his beloved wife. The love story inspired Jacques Guerlain to create this masterpiece named after the Gardens Of Shalimar where the two Indians found love. This perfume is suitably exotic, blending fragrant floral with sensual notes of patchouli and amber to create a powerful love potion. Shalimar’s recognizable scent has captivated women and their admirers for almost a century now. Jaipur by Boucheron, is another perfume that invites you to discover mystic and enchanted Orient. The bottle is shaped as a bracelet which is considered a lucky charm in Rajasthan. This rich floral bouquet with sweet fruity notes was created in 1994. Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, drew inspiration from Kerala– for Un Jardin Apres La Mousson (“Garden After Monsoon”) This perfume captures the quiet yet natural beauty of Kerala with its blue-green bottle and the smell reminds you of the romance of monsoons.

INDIA INSPIRED MAKE-UP

‘Bombay Express’,Chanel

In terms of Make-up too alot of brands have come up with India inspired collections. They have been inspired by the earthy tones, metallic sheen as well as the bright hues of India all of which goes perfectly well with the Indian skin. Chanel’s ‘Bombay Express’, designed by Creative Director Peter Philips are meant conjure up “a specific vision of India”, from “Surreal princesses from an idealised empire” to “the scent of jasmine” and “lavishness of the Maharajas”. Clarins a Paris-base cosmetic company that designed one of their fall collections based on Indian colors called Enchanted. Holi, a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus, inspires the colors in this collection. The Enchanted line consists of an eye shadow palette with a very Indian inspired packaging design. The collection features lips glosses named Pink Jaipur and Nude Delhi as well as a kajal eyeliner that Indian women have used as one of their makeup staples for centuries.Guerlain has come up with a mineral base collection called Terracotta which is supposed to be inspired by the earthy richness found it India. It has lip glosses by the name of Beige Bengali, Rogue Sultan and Pondicherry. It also has a Kajal mineral coal in Black Fakir.

INDIA INSPIRED ACCESSORIES

Christian Louboutin “India Inspired”

Christian Louboutin launched his gorgeous India inspired shoe collection earlier in 2012. This collection draws inspiration from India and Bollywood in particular. Earlier this year, he also opened up his first outlet in India. His love for India and its culture dates back to the days of 70s and 80s. He appreciates the diverse crafts and splendour associated with vibrant Indian culture. In his own words – “If India was a shoe; it would have to be a bright coloured sandal with some gold”. The collection has received a great welcome since its launch, its available in multiple colours, and have embellishments in studs and sequins reflecting the grandeur of Indian craftsmanship.
Judith Leiber has a definite affinity towards India. Besides the India inspired collection of Ganesh, Elephant and Camel they also has Indian fashion designer Suneet Varma design bags for them. Though I am not certain how I feel about carrying a Ganesh in my hand,as pretty as it looks I am certain I will offend some religious person (besides the fact that I doubt I can own the $6,000 piece)

INDIA INSPIRED FURNITURE

Charpoy collection Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien for Moroso

Furniture has its own place in India, so where we usually associate Indian furniture with heavy oriental or classic pieces, in the recent past designers have infused Indian traditional pieces with European styles and created a fusion collection. For instance Eames did a limited edition Indian inspired chair. In fact even Indian furniture designers like Alex Davis have come to their own whereby they have been taking inspiration from India and creating furniture collections.
After their presentation of the Charpoy collection Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien continue their partnership with Moroso in the shape of two new products, My Beautiful Backside and Princess. Like Charpoy, these display a fusion of two worlds, India and Europe.My Beautiful Backside has a lacquered wood base frame with large cushions fixed to it to form the backrest. The cushions are covered with Indian textiles and decorated with very large, extremely beautiful buttons. Fabrics include silk and cotton and a Kvadrat wool cloth designed by Giulio Ridolfo which is woven like an Indian silk, the warp and weft are of two different colours.The Princess version, so-called for the Princess and the Pea fairytale, has five mattresses one of top of the other with variously coloured edges

INDIA INSPIRED FABRICS AND WALLPAPER

Amrapali by Tricia Guild for Designer Guild

Indian prints have been great inspiration for fabrics all over the world. This has been going on for years in forms of fabrics and wallpapers. For instance Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s Jaisamand wallpaper for Graham and Brown. He named his line in honor of one of India’s most spectacular natural landscapes and used Rajasthani-inspired colorways. Or Morris & Co. which has had its own Indian design section for a long time. But there are also designers like British design Tricia Guild whose main inspiration for design has been India. She has lived in India and wandered all over taking inspiration and creating designs inspired by India and for India. Her latest collection Amarapali for instance is a beautiful collection with bright flowers.

INDIA INSPIRED FOOD

The Bollywood Collection, Laduree

The French who are undoubtedly the best pastry chefs also took inspiration from India to create the Laduree Bollywood collection. The collection does not extend to flavour as much as the colour and shape. Sold in a box of four, the collection kind of looks like a box of sweets from India: Indian pink being grenadine strawberry, citrus green is mint chocolate, canary yellow is citrus lemon and ivory-white are coconut raspberry balls. The collection is also a slight departure from the usual macaroon recipe. Each ball consists of a biscuit garnished with cream and coated in a very light meringue.

Shades of India

This story I had styled for Casaviva in October 2011. It takes inspiration from all the bright colours this country is so well known for:-

Photographs- Kartikey Shiva
Styled by- Aparna Kaistha

www.stylecity.in

Marigold Orange and Rani Pink

www.stylecity.in

Ochre Yellow and Sindoor Red

Royal Blue and Chilli Green

India Inspired Decor

When we say Indian Interiors, the first thought in everyones mind is large palatial homes with a lot of carved woodwork and mirrors. While that was true till a few years ago, with the coming of nuclear families and smaller homes things have changed. Here are some innovative ideas of how we can incorporate Indian Home decor into our homes.

Colours: India is a land known for a lot of vivacious and bright colours. A great way to incorporate colours into homes is by adding colours like hot pink, turquoise blue and yellow or even jewelled tones like ruby, sapphire and emerald through upholstery like cushions, rugs and throws. An innovative way to add colour is via lots of colourful bottles and maybe even a coloured glass chandelier.

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Good Earth

Prints and Patterns: India has a large variety of prints to choose from; ikat, paisley and bandhini are just some assorted styles. Instead of just going for printed upholstery, we have the options of Indian print tiles, wallpaper and even crockery. Just incorporate a few of these into your homes for that Indian touch.

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Good Earth

Metals: India is known for its vast use of metals like silver, gold, copper and brass. You can get in some metal artefacts, light fittings and even jars and cutlery

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Shutterstock

Woodwork: While heavy, carved furniture and was a norm till the 90’s, the increase in wood prices and small home spaces has made it impractical to have heavy furniture. Now a great way to incorporate wood work is though lattice print screens in the backdrop instead of a wall paper or even as a partition. If possible it could also make an interesting ceiling

http://www.sohautestyle.com/2008/07/global-chic.html
http://www.sohautestyle.com/2008/07/global-chic.html

Art and Sculptures: With its vast history and mythology, Indian art works and sculptures make for an artists dream. You can add a variety of Indian God statues, or even go in for traditional Indian artwork replicas like Tanjore paintings, Madhubani Painting or even miniature paintings. Or try to get statement light fittings inspired by India

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Elle Decor

Flowers: A great addition to Indian homes is typical Indian flowers like Marigold, Indian Roses and Jasmines to your living room. They look fresh and all have a lovely smell

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Elle Decor

Do let me know how these tips work out for transforming your room to and Indian Inspired room.

 

Chic and Stylish: Aloft Hotel, Bengaluru

It seems it has been ages since I went out of town and enjoyed a holiday. Now the secret about me is that half my purpose of going out of town is the hotel stay, so imagine my joy when I got an opportunity to visit Aloft Bengaluru, a funky and quirky new Hotel.The second you enter the Hotel you are greeted by an airplane of the ceiling. This instantly piques your interest while the hotel’s stylish urban design, buzzing bar and vibrant social scene is set to make Aloft the hottest destination in this fast growing market.Front desk, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.in

Cessna on the ceiling, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.in

Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park boasts atmospheric public spaces where guests can mix and mingle, read, work or play a game of pool at the Re:mix lounge or grab a drink and enjoy “Live @ Aloft Hotels” that showcases live band performances by emerging artists at the signature wxyz bar.

Refuel, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.in

Spacious loft inspired guest rooms feature the brand’s signature 9 feet high ceilings, oversized windows, an ultra-comfortable platform bed and walk-in showers with Bliss Spa® bath amenities. Designed for the millennial traveler in mind, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park offers fast and free WiFi throughout the hotel.  Each room is equipped with a unique plug-and-play connectivity solution that connects most electronic devices to the 42’’ LED TV, turning the room into a high-tech office as well as an entertainment centre.

Presidential suite- 3D paint on the walls, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.in

Bedroom, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.inRecreational facilities at the hotel include Re:charge fitness centre and Splash pool. You can get a quick foodie fix at Re:fuel by Aloft, a one-stop, 24-hour grab-and-go food and beverage area or enjoy a leisurely meal at the hotel’s urban cool café style restaurant, Nook.Nook, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.inThe hotel offers 10,050 square feet of meeting space with largest banquet hall being 411 square meters, 7 tactic meeting rooms equipped with the latest generation of audio-visual hardware and an outdoor terrace Backyard providing the perfect creative spaces for business meetings or social gatherings.Remix, Aloft Bengaluru, www.stylecity.inPrice starting from Rs 6499/- plus taxes inclusive of breakfast Sunday to Thursday and Rs 5489/- plus taxes inclusive of breakfast on Friday and Saturday. SPG members, Starwood Hotels’ award winning loyalty program earn double StarPoints on this offer.

For more information call 18002582516 or log on to www.alofthotels.com/cessnabusinesspark.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aloft-Bengaluru-Cessna-Business-Park/658283240881459
Instagram @aloftbengalurucbp
twitter @aloftcessnapark

Beauty Ritual: Navarasas by Nikki

‘Health is not simply the absence of disease’ is the philosophy on which the brand Navarasas bases its products. Holistic medicine is the concept of treating the whole person or animal rather than just parts. Harmonizing holistic healing & nature’s living energy in the form of Essential Oil blends & Aromatherapy, at Navarasas they cater to a wide range of all natural products for humans & animals alike. To keep the interaction pure, they don’t use any chemicals or additives.Their mission at Navarasas is to bring about eternal wellness & balance of mind, body & soul! While my mission was to test these products and give an honest feedback, and that is what I have done.

Navarasas Produces Styled by: Aparna Kaistha
Navarasas Produces
Styled by: Aparna Kaistha

Hand Sanitizer, Rs.149
I know it is a strange product to begin with, but that is because being obsessed with Hand Sanitizers, this one i am addicted to. Unlike most Hand Sanitizer’s, this one does not smell like an antiseptic cream while having all the essential antiseptic properties and genuinely makes your palm smooth.

Lavender Ylang Ylang Sugar and Sea Salt Scrub, Rs.849
This scrub has excellent cleansing qualities and the essential oil leaves the skin feeling replenished and a glow on the face. Though the salt makes it slightly itchy if you have broken or dry skin, so you need to be careful for even despite the essential oils for it may pinch slightly.

Lavender Ylang Ylang Body Wash and Foam Wash, Rs.399
A very relaxing product, this is excellent for a soak in the bath after work. Inspired by the tranquil properties of lavender and Ylang Ylang it is bound to relax you and make you feel stress free. But it is better used as a foam bath than Body wash.

Hand Wash,Rs.349
The tree and lemon Hand wash same as the Hand Sanitizer shows excellent results in terms of hand care. Crafted with all-natural germicide properties of tea tree and lemon oil it is a definite must buy!

Boost Shampoo, Rs.599
Packed with essential oils, this shampoo is supposed to be excellent for damaged hair and dandruff. It did have a good result on my hair texture, but I felt the consistency was too watery and too much product got wasted. Maybe after being used to soaps which lather a lot this was a bit different, but I would need more than one wash to be able to judge properly.

A curated network of Interior Designers

Dwll.in (pronounced ‘Dwellin’) is a curated network of interior designers launched by Pankaj Poddar and Parikshat Hemrajani, both alumni of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. On this platform users submit information on their design projects (including photos, answers to questions, and drawings/ pictures describing what they want) and multiple designers respond with design concepts. Users can then hire the Designer they like through this site. Though quite popular internationally it is considerably nascent in the Indian context.

Living room dwll.in, www.stylecity.in

  • Dwll.in focuses primarily on showcasing, promoting and connecting quality interior designers with consumers
  • They provide a platform that will aid both the users and designers with better project management and will help in transitioning of work from offline to online domain
  • They aspire to be a force which will organize this highly fragmented industry
  • They have also partnered with Bajaj Finance to provide Interior Design Consultation for their Home Loan consumers as a value-added service. This is an innovative product in the industry.

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Dwll.in focuses solely on interior designers, helps with discovery of designers and then provides designers and consumers a platform through which they can connect and manage their design projects as well. They also actively market the platform to users who have interior design needs and brings them to the site to connect with designers.So if you are looking for designers to do up your homes, you now have a huge range and various options. Just log on to http://www.dwll.in

 

Travel: Shangri-La “City Escapes”

This winter, family travel will be merrier and more memorable when Shangri-La’s city hotels, Kerry and Traders hotels around the world introduce “City Escapes”to start the season of celebration from 10 December 2013 to 10 February 2014.

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul, www.stylecity.in

Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo,www.stylecity.inShangri-La Hotel, Paris,www.stylecity.in

While counting down to the holidays, guests can peruse a selection of over 70 Shangri-La properties located in key city destinations, namely Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, mainland China, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Each City Escape, designed to welcome Christmas and New Year in style and elegance, will offer great value and the convenience of being close to sites of interest. Guests booking City Escapes for a room or suite at the Best Available Rate will be entitled to complimentary breakfast and upto USD200 credit per stay to use for hotel dining or for pampering treatments at the spa. Even children under the age of six (up to a maximum of two) who are accompanied by a paying adult can enjoy complimentary buffet meals in all day dining and pool cafes.  For additional children aged between six and 12, staying at city hotels, a 50% discount off the buffet price will be included.

For booking or detailed information please visit www.shangri-la.com

Bring in the Monsoon Decor

Well Monsoons are in full flow all over the Indian sub-continent, except Delhi it seems which is getting just erratic sprouts. Either way I think Monsoons are a great excuse to do up the Interior Décor of the house. Like I have mentioned before redoing the décor of your home does not have to be an expensive affair, but with a few simple tips can change the look of your home and make it Monsoon friendly.
Monsoon Decor, www.stylecity.in

Colour me bright
Colourful cushions for monsoon decor, www.stylecity.inThe dull outdoors with constant grey skies can be real mood dampeners. Hence, bright interior accents have the effect of uplifting the mood. But you don’t need to go in for a drastic change in the décor like changing wall colours or buying new sofas. Simple tricks like getting new colourful fabric colours for your sofa, or nice bright bed sheets for the bedroom or even simply bringing a range of colourful cushions can help uplift the Interiors of the house. The range of cushion covers could span from solid colours to retro prints to India-inspired motifs.

Fabric Trails
Do away with heavy curtains like jacquards and velvet or even cottons instead opt for sheers which help the light in during rainy season. Also fabrics like Wool and Velvet and cotton soak in moisture, try and avoid using them along with silk or woollen bed covers and carpets as they tend to attract moisture. Opt for furnishings in polyester and nylon instead. In terms of floor covering, first thing get a coir mat for to place outside the front door, and replace all the carpets in the house with rugs and dhurries that can be machine washed.

Kelly Hoppens

Scent of rain
ladylimoges-tumblr-com-post-45591837100We all have to agree, as amazing as rainfall smells in the nature and outdoor, with our over populated cities and pollution the smells accompanying the rain is not always pleasant. Trust me, in the 4 monsoons spent by me in Mumbai, the one thing that used to get to me most was the smell, there is an easy solution for that, place scented candles all over the house, they are also practical as electricity tends to go a lot during the monsoons. Of course fresh blooms are always a great option all year around as they make the house smell great and brighten up the space.

Furniture Design
In terms of furniture, that is not something which we can change, unless you have the option of putting it in storage and get out Monsoon furniture, so though simple solutions like Sofa covers can help prevent expensive sofas from getting dirty, wicker furniture is a great option for areas such as the patios and well as areas near big open windows. Mirrors are great to incorporate on walls to reflect the nature outside (if you have a good view) and also increase the light.

Luxe and Stylish: ASMALLWORLD Relaunch

From a business model that was previously based on advertising, the new ASMALLWORLD is shifting to a subscription model. With a peer-recommended and verified user base capped at 250,000 and a bold new set of amenities for its members, ASMALLWORLD will transform into the world’s leading international travel and lifestyle community. From the moment you hit the ground in any city, you’ve got the best insider recommendations, discounts at dozens of stylish boutiques, a free spa treatment, an invitation to a party that night, automatic access to a club – and to top it off you’re staying at a great hotel, at a major discount. ASMALLWORLD will introduce an impressive set of new offerings for its members in India and the world over, transforming from a social network into an international travel and lifestyle club. To fete this special time in the company’s history, CEO Sabine Heller and Chairman Patrick Liotard-Vogt invited over 80 VIP guests from around the world to Taj Marrakech (one of the shoot locations for Sex and the City 2 ), in Morocco over the weekend of May 10 – 12, 2013, for a magical desert adventure.

Photograph:Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
Photograph:Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
Photograph: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
Photograph: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
Photograph:Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
Photograph:Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

Sabine Heller Credit to Frances Tulk-HartWe at StyleCity Love nothing more than travel, luxury and lifestyle. ASW promotes all that and more, hence we caught up with ASW CEO Sabine Heller and asked her a few questions on her Style Secrets, Luxury Lifestyle and plans for the newly re-launched ASMALLWORLD. So here goes:-
Define Style. What according to you makes a person stylish?
Style to me is very personal. Almost everything I wear is designed by a friend. I have a much more personal relationship with my clothing when I know the person who made it. Confidence is what makes a person stylish. What according to you is the ultimate luxury experience you have had?
That would have to be the time I spent at Ahilya Fort in Central India, my godfather Maharaja Richard Holkar’s ancestral palace which he recently converted into a heritage hotel. With exquisite temples, hidden gardens and ramparts overlooking the sacred Narmada River, you’re lost in time, and able to get a glimpse of what 18th century royal life must have been like.
Your list of ultimate luxury brands and holidays?
Some of my favourite brands include House of Waris, Bungalow 8, Mathew Williamson, Zero + Maria Corjejo, Giambattista Valli, and Saint Laurent. My idea of a luxurious holiday would involve a spa — if one is going to spend a lot of money to stay in a hotel, one might as well really enjoy it, and spend a lot of time there. I love Therme Vals in Switzerland.
What is your take on the future of luxury market in India?
We see immense potential for the luxury market of India. Even as we planned our global relaunch across 100 markets, India has been amongst our top priorities and we plan to grow significantly in numbers from the 10,000 members we used to have here. After all, Indians represent ideal members for ASW, as we are English speaking, international, sophisticated and avid travellers.
What, if any luxury buy do you plan for yourself on person/ your house this year?
I would like to build myself a cottage in my county house.
What was the idea behind forming ASW and what role does it aspire to achieve in its new avatar, especially in India?
ASMALLWORLD first started in 2004. It was founded by a Swedish Count named Erik Wachtmeister, and in many ways had a first mover advantage in social media. For most adults it was their first experience with social media – and for the initial members it was pretty intoxicating to discover a totally different form of communication. That level of excitement was added to by the fact that you had to be invited, and invitations were scarce.When in 2005 Harvey Weinstein became the majority shareholder, he made an assumption that seemed logical at that time. The assumption was predicated on the notion that ad buys are decided on a global level. However, this proved false.  Media buyers buy advertising locally not globally. Since ASW had limited penetration in most markets, the company had to bend over backwards to create complicated customer integrations for each partner. This led to an inefficient non-consumer facing business environment, as all resources were focused on maximizing revenue.Eventually, it became clear there had to be a shift approach. ASW had to build a long-term, long-lasting business strategy – one that was consumer-facing. With that as our core objective, ASW became committed to driving member value at all costs, in the form of experiences, upgrades and perks, which led to our reinvention as the definitive travel and lifestyle club in the spring of 2013, remaking one of the world’s oldest social networks as a subscription service, costing $105/year.By way of an evolving website and recommendation platform, members will ever more become mavens of what they love, sharing with the ASW community their personal city and travel favourites. Meeting members is also about to get a whole lot easier through an ultra smart website that will help connect members with things in common. Membership will also grant access to an expanded events program and exclusive global privileges.A core value that distinguishes ASW is trust, and by moving towards a paid structure, ASW will have a fully verified user base, capped at 250,000 members, which will ensure the integrity of the community in a way that no social network has ever done before. With an increased focus on India, we already have several exciting partners including Bungalow 8, Bombay Electric, Le Mill, Good Earth, TAJ Hotels & Resorts, Frette, Perniapopupshop.com, Shivan & Narresh, Bandit Queen, Design Temple and Pankaj & Nidhi, where members of our prestigious ASW community enjoy exclusive deals. Part Indian myself, having spent part of my childhood in Mumbai and New Delhi, I’m personally very excited to have more and more Indian fashion designers, retailers and hotels as part of ASW’s future as brand partner.

To gain membership to the club;1. You get invited by another member 2. Occasionally our events can be attended by non-members, who can speak to our local ambassadors on site and try and get a membership that way 3. There is an application for membership on our new site. These applications will be reviewed bi-annually. So who is sending me an invite? For more details log on to www.asmallworld.net