On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, Lladró inaugurated a flagship store in India, marking its eighth establishment in India— a country that stood as the brand’s third largest market globally. The opening on MG Road in New Delhi solidified the enduring presence of the Valencia-based brand in the country, a journey that had begun 23 years ago! In conversation with Mr.Nikhil Lamba, CEO, India, Lladró, we found out what’s different about this new store and how it enhances the retail experience of its costumers.
Lladró has been the flag bearer of porcelain art creations for 7 decades. How has it managed to stay relevant even today?
At Lladró, we constantly strive for excellence, innovation, craftsmanship and originality in our designs. In the last 70 years, we have consistently innovated and diversified our catalogue from sculptures to lights, fragrances and even jewellery. Our technical know-how of working with the sustainable material of porcelain for 70 years has enabled the brand to innovate with different finishes like golden, silver and iridescent luster, enamels apart from our matte and glazed finishes. Our approach is global but also pays tribute to local celebrations, creating pieces that forge a very special bond with customers from very different countries and traditions. We continue to evolve with the introduction of a new concept of the brand which is contemporary, playful, striking and bold. This includes contemporary designs, collaboration with external designers and artists like Luca Nichetto, Marcel Wanders, Jaime Hayon and many more.
Please tell us about the new flagship store. How have you enhanced its customer retail experience?
The new Lladró store in New Delhi, second largest in the world, is one of kind and first for the brand that offers the complete range of Lladró porcelain creations, from its striking large High Porcelain works to contemporary sculptures, accessories and home fragrances, as well as its lighting line. It is reflective of the brand’s diverse product portfolio. The store offers a unique shopping experience, designed to facilitate interaction with Lladró’s current products while also throwing light on the brand’s creative and artisan processes in a special area set aside for this purpose. This opening in New Delhi is part of Lladró’s mission to keep on revolutionizing the art of porcelain, exploring its innovative creative possibilities and exhibiting them in experience-based spaces where the connection between the visitor and the product is made through the senses.
On the ground floor, Forms and colors are the differentiating elements of the interior design project. Modular divisions that play with perspectives help guide visitors through the space, conjuring the atmospheres of fantasy and dreamlike architecture. Geometric forms create a neatly laid out setting and favor a sense of visual harmony, throwing all the attention toward the products on display. The colors cover a gamut of peach, green sage, and sand-tones that create a cohesive ambiance. The chromatic spectrum provides a welcoming sensation for visitors and invites them to walk through an experiential space filled with Lladró creations.
The first floor highlights the traditional legacy of Heritage pieces. This space exhibits the breadth of the brand’s creative universe with a special focus on the series Spirit of India, whose pieces capture the values and attributes of Hindu iconography with a great wealth of details and colors, and the heightened expressiveness of faces. Made with great precision and enormous respect, these pieces enhance the beauty and the message conveyed by Hindu gods. Finally, the second floor exhibits the great masterpieces of the High Porcelain category alongside a selection of New Classics with a VIP lounge designed in collaboration with a homegrown Indian designer Kanv Budhiraja from House of Vandana.
Can you take us through the design process of a product? How much research goes into coming up witha concept and the final execution of a product or a collection?
A Lladró design is created with an extensive and detailed process. The knowledge of working with porcelain for 70 years, intricacy and a sustainable material and process all contribute to its uniqueness. The approved sketch becomes a clay model and is made in a plaster replica to provide the first mold, which then becomes the definitive mold for the porcelain figurine. The molding process is time-consuming and often strenuous as a mid-sized figurine may need between 15 and 20 molds and sometimes up to 300 molds for a complex piece. Any fragments remaining from these molds are fixed by liquid porcelain paste to achieve an exact reproduction of the original model. Once the figurine is reconstructed, the ornamental process starts. To give it its final appearance delicate motifs are carved on its surface and all this is done with in compliance to the sculptor’s instructions. It is at this point of the creation process that the sculpture now has a facial expression and all the details, even the tiniest ones are delicately crafted. The figurine is then painted and if it requires a glossy finish it is varnished, providing for that unique crystalline look that is so characteristic of Lladró. Many Lladró sculptures display one of the most valued and differentiating features of the brand – flowers. Each flower is made, petal by petal, following a very fragile process in order to obtain exceptional, one of a kind creations. Finally, the sculpture is put to its final challenge, the test of fire; it remains there for approximately one whole day in a kiln at over 1300º C. The porcelain vitrifies, the varnish crystallizes and Lladró’s true colors, which have not previously been revealed, come to surface.
What are your thoughts about collaboration? Are you planning any collaborations with other product designers or architects?
At Lladró, we believe in using our technical knowledge of working with porcelain and innovating in design even in collaborations with external artists and designers. Over the years we have collaborated with several artists around the world like Jaiye Hayon, Naoto Fukasawa, Bodo Sperlein and many more. For The Guest collection, it was in 2010 we collaborated with Spanish designer, Jaime Hayon to create the sculpture in a single colour which over the years became a blank canvas for other artists like Paul Smith, Camille Walala, Rolito, Supakitch, Henn Kim, Kzeng Jiang and many more, where they created their own version of The Guest.
How is Lladró contributing to the path towards a circular economy and reducing its carbon footprint?
Reducing environmental impacts through the responsible use of energy, water, materials, transport, of our own impact, is part of our present and of our goals for continual improvement. For instance, in the creation of our pieces, we use plaster molds, in which the liquid porcelain is poured. Once the use life of these molds is over, they are treated by a waste management company which works to reuse them. Like the majority of materials made from combining minerals, if the chemical composition of the plaster is not altered in the process, it is infinitely recyclable. Likewise, we purify the water we use in making porcelain paste. We purify it of all solid sediments, which are then also treated, and the water is returned clean to the system. On the other hand, the liquid paste we take from the molds during the process of making the fragments for the pieces, is reused for making bases or fragments and the varnish decorating many of our creations is recycled through the use of water curtains. We are also constantly working on improving our packaging, reducing the consumption of plastic and thus our carbon footprint. We have already applied these policies in our home fragrances line, without affecting the proper conservation of the perfumes in these creations. Steps, gestures and actions aligned with our company philosophy to continuously make things better and to continue improving the processes of recycling materials used from start to finish.
As the festive season of Diwali approaches, tell us your top 3 picks from Lladró’scollections for Indian households.
Lladró has a wide range of selections to offer for every occasion. For Diwali, our top 3 picks would across 3 different collections-
Light & Scent- Candles, dome lamps and cordless lamps to illuminate one’s home with our decorative and functional art creations
Spirit of India- Sculptures of Lord Ganesha & Goddess Lakshmi are always make a good gift to bring in luck and wealth to any home
Art of Table Décor- We have a wide range of table décor to offer from our Parrot Party to the Koi Fish collection which have the most beautifully sculpted vases, plates and cups.
What’s next for Lladró?
We are constantly innovating and creating new and exciting designs every year. This year we will be introducing limited edition sculpture in collaboration with Laolu Senbanjo, a renowned Nigerian artist based in New York. Soon, we will also release our first phygital project. We also plan to introduce art editions, a new category of limited contemporary designs, in collaboration with renowned artists and designers across the world. Lladró is rapidly expanding in India with plans to expand in two more locations in South and West India.