Talking to Eeshaan Kashyap about his professional journey can be extremely delightful. His value for details, and his expansive interest in the field of the arts and food are all noteworthy, especially as seen in his practice. Tablescapes by Eeshaan Kashyap collaborates with Vayu and it is a treat to browse through or even to possess any of these collectibles. Kashyap, a trained and passionate chef, brings to Vayu his foresight for craftsmanship and the flavours of designing-recreating spaces and food, which he intends to elaborate upon in future. During our chat, he reveals his deepest engagements with design and his inspirations from the arts, films, literature, and travels. Kashyap believes in the most voluminous visuals which he is not afraid to extend as advice on decor. To him, 'less is boring' and 'more is exciting', which is the best descriptive for the Indian aesthetic.
Eeshaan Kashyap at the first showcase of Tablescape by EE at Vayu - Design for Living, Delhi. ©vayu
How did you begin your career in designing and curation?
Eeshaan: I was formally trained in food and beverages, and I was part of the Oberoi hotels for eleven to twelve years. Actually, I was the youngest Executive-chef for Trident in Cochin, but I’ve always been very inclined towards designing. This translated in my experimentations with food.
The entire idea of designing has been a part of my life. I prefer living in a lot of colours and around a lot of textures that is also very evident in the kind of food I make. I don’t have any formal education or training in designing, but my ideas have always been creative. I would love to own an online concept store or, maybe, a physical store in the future, where I would love to showcase things that can be used differently including ways to break out of matching things to one another, where colours and textures make important statements. Through the lockdown, I worked on tablewares and other collectibles in other people’s studios when I thought why not start this experiment with myself and see where it goes and that's how, in April 2020, Tablescape was born.
First showcase of Tablescape by EE at Vayu - Design for Living, Delhi. ©vayu
Who is Eeshaan Kashyap when he is not creating beautiful things or working?
Eeshaan: I love anything to do with water. I love spending time around beaches whenever I can, and I cook everyday. That’s my way of relaxing. I experiment with food, flavour, textures, and, a lot of times, these experiments go wrong, but a large part of learning happens from that. I browse through a lot of concept books and design books. I love to scroll through different mediums or whatever I can see whether its objects, geometry or literature. I’m more of a visual person.
Colours really inspire me and I see them differently. I can see many shades of black in ways that others don’t see.
Maximalism doesn’t frighten me. Less is more but less is also boring. So, I make it a point that everything that I do makes the normal a little more fascinating and exciting. There has to be fun in whatever you do and that is one thing I’ve learnt over the years. Do what you really like doing and, at the end of it, you will really bloom. I think I draw inspiration from everything: Travel, nature, and geometry for certain. You will see a lot of dots in my works, bold colours, and geometrical shapes.
Tell us about your previous works.
Eeshaan: There is no formal introduction of projects or assignments for attention or visibility, but I’ve been very actively involved in doing interiors for restaurants. I’ve been part of 12 restaurants in the last 7 years adding design and details in the most unique way based on themes. One of my most recent projects was in 2018-2019 at Jamun, a restaurant, in Goa. I designed it from scratch where we worked on presenting authenticity, creativity, and flavours from many regions of India. We worked with Indian crafts creating a unique pattern on an old wall, naming it ‘The wall of curiosity’. This is around 40ft by 50ft decorated with images and objects. As a contributing editor for Conde Nast’s Architectural Digest, India, I do a monthly column called ‘The spoon’, which is about food presented in the most unique way inspired from architecture, design, and art. This is where I go all out to create a dish, present it in the most surreal way, and push boundaries. So, designing is a constant practice. I also designed my home with my partner which was featured in a 2018 edition. My house is not the most practically designed space, but it's full of art and decoratives designed by young students. Everything is customised. So, our love language is ‘designing’.
What kind of art inspires you?
Eeshaan: ’m extremely drawn towards anything abstract. Contemporary art is very inspiring. Once, about 8-9 years ago, I watched a show in Paris on the Gutai art movement. The Gutai movement was essentially started in Japan after the world wars. The idea was to show how the
artists were curbed from expressing themselves. This was a full movement and, as a rebellion, they created artworks which were technically art pieces because they did not use any brush or pencils or any traditional forms. They used their own bodies and hands to do what they did. The paint, pigments or ink were used to create forms and expressions so powerful that it blew me away. I would just spend hours looking at it. So, I created a yellow wall in my house where I took different shades of yellow and I used my feet and hands to spread the paint across an entire canvas which was about 20ft by 10ft. Later, I added strokes of black. The action that I did was someone else's reaction when they saw it.
I love yellow and its boldness, but, to be very specific, I love the Gutai movement.
Any films or books that found a place in your practice or inspired you?
Eeshaan: I like period dramas, because there's a lot of set designing, colours, and costumes. A movie that really inspired me was W.E. by Madonna dramatised on Wallace Simpson and King Edward.
In terms of literature, books that are on the lives of artists, such as Louis Bourgeois and Agnes Martin. These are very strong women with extremely powerful works in simple styles.
Do talk about your collaboration with Vayu.
Eeshaan: Our collaboration was a perfect match because I absolutely admire the curation and the entire concept of the store. It's a blend of old and new. It's about preserving craftsmanship in culture and the arts and, at the same time, it's the right balance of kitsch. It caters to a large number of people in terms of age, region, and taste.
I wanted to curate different rooms in Vayu while blending the old with new. For example, one room was inspired by watercolours in the shade of blue. So, all the pottery and tableware were in different shades of blue with different glazes, materials, and forms. The center room was dedicated to red and black with abstract works, where different materials were used. On one side, I had Papier-mâché bowls and, on the other side, I had a terracotta matka - simple and, yet, modern. This design is now protected under my name and, so, I wanted to launch it at Vayu because I felt that this was the right platform and the right collaboration. The last room was in shades of yellow with poppings of other colours.
I think the sensibility of both the brands are similar. They cater to people with fine tastes. This collaboration or association was very exciting and there should be more in future.
Red Room dedicated to Red and Black abstract works with different materials. ©vayu
What are your future plans?
Eeshaan: The identity and the brand language for Tablescape is going to be focusing on an online platform collaborating with different cities, spaces, and people. It will come up with collections that are extremely diverse and dynamic. This is primarily the reason why I think it will occupy an unusual space. It’s not just a normal tableware, kitchenware or a lifestyle platform as it would also have expressions of a tablescape.
So, Tablescape has two projects: one for food and beverage where I curate the tablescape with or without the products from Tablescape that’re thoughtful and well-executed. Secondly, I create experiences around a tablescape for 2-20 people or even weddings. I curate wedding bars under my banner ‘The Bar Beverage 1CRH’.
What do you advise your customers and buyers while shopping from your collection?
Eeshaan: The most important thing is to create a space or collection that is part of you. Pick up something that speaks for your personality or space. Don’t go by the formula of having everything matched and perfectly in shape. Everything in my collection is handmade that lends these pieces its uniqueness. It's very important to relate to things and not just keep buying things and not know what to do with them. These pieces are very bold and textured and they’ll
need their own space. The plate itself will speak volumes as if it is a feast on the table when you put things together. The cutlery maybe brass or silver and will still go well with ceramic or clay. Try avoiding matching things and aim to find a piece that stands out on its own.
Tablescape by EE showcase at Vayu- Design for Living ©vayu
While Kashyap blends his unique style with finesse to his love for designs and the culinary arts, Vayu promises to seek out the most exquisite collaborations. In our tête-à-tête, Kashyap turned out to be a breath of freshness waiting to seek out the most beautiful creations to assemble and make visible in this hope that he can indulge in the flavours of the arts and traditions.
About the Author:
Satarupa Bhattacharya is a cultural-practitioner and a writer based in New Delhi. She writes on culture, the arts, design, history, and politics. She’s occasionally found teaching too.