Now, you can dine on plates designed by Sabyasachi Mukherjee - Vogue

The first time Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Johnny Sandelson from Thomas Goode & Co met was at the Oberoi in Mumbai (which is also home to Thomas Goode & Co in India) when they were seated next to each other, over a sit-down dinner hosted by Malvika Poddar. Between the appetisers and entrée, glasses clinked, and it was decided that Mukherjee would become the first Indian designer to collaborate with the 200-year old British luxury retailer. “All good things happen over food,” says Mukherjee, “It was how my collaboration with Christian Louboutin began, and now with Thomas Goode as well. It’s about meeting the right person and company; you know when the chemistry is right—it’s that easy.” Sandelson adds on, “When you meet Sabya you meet someone with a clear vision—he understands people, the value of a beautiful aesthetic and the worth of being able to create something very special together. Plus, I really liked his laugh,” he jokes.

A tale of two cities

We’re sitting around the private dining room tucked away at the back of the sprawling Thomas Goode & Co store in the heart of London’s Mayfair. Archival prints of plates designed for royals, dating back to the early nineteenth century deck the walls but the formidable dining table in the centre of this space isn’t dressed with its usual heritage fine china and the best of Czech glassware. Instead the table is set with the painted originals rendered by the 43 artists from the Sabyasachi Art Foundation of the very first Sabyasachi X Thomas Goode collaborative dinner plates. A teaser into a special wedding trousseau collection that will go on to include bespoke dinner service designs (so pick and choose your designs of glassware, the finest table linen and other objet d’art—all delivered in a hand-crafted luxury shipping case).

The designs whisper the familiar tropical flora and fauna of Kolkata, with Sabyasachi’s signature tiger motif finding its place, front and centre. Kolkata, the once British-India capital, served as the designer’s inspiration for the collaboration with the London-based, British legacy brand. The ties between the two cities are, of course, undeniable making it an obvious choice. Mukherjee explains, “For me, Kolkata is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not just because of its physical beauty but because of its cultural and spiritual beauty, and this quirky turn it takes when you least expect it. It’s an acquired taste but once it’s in your system, you can’t not fall in love with it. I’ve lived there all my life, and I guess what I create is what I see around me. At the cost of sounding parochial, I’m proud of the city I come from, and what better way to celebrate and share it than this global platform.” But the opportunity to celebrate his city isn’t a parochial endeavour and far from a colonial homage. Instead Sabyasachi revels in the hybridity of Kolkata’s port-city heritage be it drawing from Devonshire pottery, alongside Persian miniature paintings and French calico prints, for this collaborative endeavour.


Things of beauty

Of course, this isn’t Mukherjee’s first foray into home décor. In 2016, he collaborated with Pottery Barn on an exclusive collection. How different were the two experiences—between the American upscale home furnishing chain and the heritage British luxury retailer? “It’s like being an actor. One actor can fit into many roles—you can be the star of a big blockbuster or deliver a powerhouse performance in an arthouse gem. I call myself a product designer more than a fashion designer because I think that if tomorrow you ask me to design a car for say Bentley or Rolls with a lot of technical help, I would be ready to do that too,” says Sabyasachi.

But what sets this collection apart is that it explores luxury at its finest. It isn’t just designed by India’s favourite wedding designer, but is also a bespoke service, where you can custom make your edition of wedding china. With combinations for plate fronts and backs, and a variety of prints to choose from, there’s something for everyone. “When you buy a plate or a glass, or an entire dinner set from us, you’re assured of the finest craftsmanship and quality. We want it to become a piece of heritage that will be passed from one generation to the next. It’s the opposite of our current disposable culture of take away food and meals-in-a-bowl. But we are aware that times are changing, so we’re bringing in contemporary design into our ancient heritage of craftsmanship,” explains Sandelson. This collaboration has infused Thomas Goode & Co with a new relevancy especially for its Indian consumer, while the master craftsmanship of this storied brand has only helped elevate Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s design vision into an instant collector’s edition.