Sanjay Garg’s new Raw Mango store in Delhi is a minimalist masterpiece

MAY 14, 2019 | By Nitija Shastri
FROM LEFT A marble sculpture of King Neptune, who presides over the courtyard and is a symbol of strength within the power corridor of Lutyens Delhi as photographed by Anurag Banerjee; White-washed walls throughout the facade of the store exudes minimalism, Photograph by Shovan Gandhi; Brass accents and furniture adorn various parts of the store; Statue within the store, as photographed by Adityan Melekalam
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Entrance of the store; Photograph by Anurag Banerjee; Entrance to the courtyard; Photographed by Shovan Gandhi-; The entrance of the raw mango store in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony; Photograph by Shovan Gandhi
LEFT TO RIGHT Interior of the Raw Mango store; Photograph by Anurag Banerjee; Interiors of the store as photographed by Shovan Gandhi; Beguiling artworks and pieces adorn the courtyard at the Raw Mango store

A freshly white-washed compound wall surrounded by vibrant pink bougainvillaea, a blossoming pomegranate tree and traditional artwork that welcomes you as you enter the 4,750 sq ft Raw Mango store in Delhi’s elite Lodhi Colony. Allusions to the grander imperial structures are recreated within the premise—reminiscent of times immemorial. The spanking new store, helmed by international style icon Loulou Polak and the label’s visual creative director, Adityan Melekalam, is all about functionality minimalism and crude design mechanism.

We take a virtual tour of the space…

ELLE DECOR India: What was your central design theme of the store, if any?

Sanjay Garg: The essence and forms that constitute Raw Mango’s design philosophy have been designed with respect and understanding of materiality, reflective of India’s diverse culture, heritage and history.

Adityan Melekalam: We always try to create an experience that is similar to what one might feel in a gallery or a museum. It lets you observe and introspect instead of being bombarded with products/information. We didn’t think of it as ‘theme’ so to speak but there was an urge to explore some design elements that would have been specific to the location and history of the site and combine it with adaptations/variations of some ideas/approaches that has worked for us in the past.

ELLE DECOR India: What was the collaborative design process like?

Sanjay Garg: The purpose of design is to offer a solution. I enjoy the process of it, from the beginning till the end product.

Lolou Polak: An amazing experience of working as a team, with a very precise vision by Sanjay which we worked on together. The strength we have together is that we always give a personal point of view and discuss together, what is the best design solution.

Adityan Melekalam: The history of the space we occupy is very important to us. The challenge always is to make these spaces feel both locally relevant and unmistakably on-brand. Design-wise, we tried to use the materials that we love in ways that were new to us and enjoyed the creative process.

ED India: Would you call this space dramatically minimalist, if so, why?

Sanjay: I have always believed that less is more and that there is presence in the absence. Our retail environments have bare walls – almost zen-like spaces with practical almirah displays. The visual merchandising is restricted, there are no mannequins and the overall environment does not lend itself to impulse buying.

Lolou Polak: Firstly the vibe of the store is Lutyens Delhi with a twist. For me this mix is Raw Mango’s strength, so we chose that Lutyen’s atmosphere to incorporate a sense of Indianess’ within the space.

ED India: What is your favourite space in the store?

Sanjay: An arm cast in bronze that supports the delicate pomegranate tree at the entrance of one of the three courtyards of our Lodhi Store, which happens to be my favourite space. The tree was neglected for years, given the non-occupancy of the space and has a fragile trunk, it was one of our greatest joys to see it bloom the past few weeks. The arm was sculpted for Raw Mango by Jeevan, a student at The College of Art, Delhi.

Lolou Polak: The pomegranate courtyard which contains for me all the elements of what Raw Mango represents!

Adityan: Hands down, the courtyard.

ED India: How are art pieces used to elevate the space? Which ones were your favourites?

Sanjay: I have collected these pieces/objects in the store over the past years, they are a reflection of mine as well as the brand’s aesthetic and personality. They are also somewhat unpredictable in nature and represent a different medium of expression. In a way, they are somewhat adding to an element of interaction or dialogue when one walks into the space. Amongst objects placed in various corners throughout the store, we have a gallery dedicated to objects and pieces that are among our favourites, including the 10 objects that we designed in-house.

ED India: Lolou, what is the evolution of your craft along these years?
Lolou Polak: I evolve with my clients without losing my personality. This has helped me preserve my craft along the years.
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