Master Couturier JJ Valaya on the Inspiration and Essence Behind His Luxury Interior Brand, Valaya Home

During an intimate tête-à-tête with Brides Today, the designer shared how his opulent décor line came about, must-have interior pieces couples' should invest in, and more.

When we talk about the confluence of maximalist inspiration—laced with nomadic hints—and exquisite craftsmanship, JJ Valaya comes to mind. As the luxury label completes 30 glorious years in the fashion domain, the designer's keen eye for detail and flair for design has catalyzed the inception of 'Valaya Home', an extension of his sartorial aesthetic. 

"A true home must always have a sense of timelessness; it must always endure and evolve with the owner," says the couturier. Read on to learn more about JJ Valaya's lifestyle venture, via an exclusive interview with Brides Today. 

Brides Today: What inspired your Valaya Home collection?

JJ Valaya: "The current collection of Valaya Home, which is also the debut collection at the World of Valaya, is a take on the well-known adage of our brand—which is, the royal nomad with a penchant for art deco. Royalty is reflected in various corners and pieces, and we have also played with a lot of textiles and rough, unfinished surfaces to pique interest. When it comes to art deco, I consider it to be the most glamorous and modern period—and that is also how I perceive my luxury interior line. You must create something that makes a statement while reflecting earthy components to balance out that lush experience. We have thrown in some modern accents to make it relevant, and make it grow with you."

BT: How has your sartorial aesthetic translated into a luxe interior brand?

JJ: "I have always wanted to take the brand into multiple experimental areas—lifestyle, luxury, interiors, and photography—all of which are my passions. For many decades, I have had a deep interest in interiors, and I finally got the opportunity to indulge in my ultimate passion by curating aesthetic spaces with an apparent, underlying signature Valaya ethos. Relaunching a luxury interior brand at The World of Valaya made perfect sense; a celebration of the culmination of fashion, photography, and interior design." 

BT: What sets Valaya Home apart from its furniture and interior competitors?

JJ: "The answer is simple: we complete 30 years in the fashion industry, which is a testament to the fact that our brand has stood the test of time. It is our brand's ethos and the designer’s vision of translating raw material into something fabulous—something that resonates with a large group of people. When we talk about Valaya Home, the essence of our brand is all about refined maximalism. While it's easy to make a clean space minimal, it isn't so simple when working with striking, statement décor pieces. This in no way suggests that I'm not for the minimalist aesthetic, but treading the maximalism route requires a much finer sense of understanding of styles. Putting together various textures, materials, surfaces, artefacts, carpets, lighting, and just about everything that is multi-cultural and multi-textural, requires a keen eye for detail. To effectively place all these elements alongside each other in a specific space, ensuring that it looks elegant, sophisticated, warm, welcoming, and not over the top, is a feat in itself. I dislike walking into a space knowing what to expect—there has to be an element of surprise when moving from one zone to the other. When you are not following a pre-set pattern, and are playing with contradictions, there's magic in store. Such finer sensibilities require a higher sense of visualisation." 

BT: Can you share a few tips for those refurbishing their home?

JJ: "First and foremost, avoid being monotonous. Take calculated risks and move out of your comfort zone. It is also important that you trust whoever you are taking on board to redo your space. It's a human tendency to stay put in our safe zone; with a mere 20 per cent of people willing to experiment. So the greatest tip that I can offer is to tell you to be open to change. Surprise yourself and believe in contradiction. Drop your preconceived notions; do not think that a concrete wall cannot work with Italian marble, or that a high gloss veneer cannot work with sandstone."

 

BT:  Tell us about the décor pieces one must invest in for their abode.

JJ: "Home is home—it is very personal to those residing there, and no two people will have the same taste. Your home is a reflection of your memories, journeys, and stories. Art must be a part of everyone's home. This doesn't solely refer to paintings, but photography, tapestries, antique wall hangings, and even sculptural works that can be put up on the wall. Wall art is an investment worth making—and it should be purchased in instalments, not all at once. 

Speaking of flooring, carpets are another investment worth making. Mix and match between contemporary Italian marble, concrete, terrazzo, and rugged hardwood accents. Homes are meant to be warm and intimate, and that doesn't come with small rooms and pieces of furniture. Add levels of warmth by layering—think large sofas, loads of cushions, prints, fabrics, intricate tables, antiques, opulent lamps, fresh flowers, and more." 

BT: Share with us your top 3 picks from the Valaya Home collection.

JJ: "If we were to think of categories, I would pick two pieces of furniture and one wall art. There is a very special tapestry that hangs at the end of one of our passages. It's a wonderful ten-foot-by-two-and-a-half-foot, linear sort of form—dramatic and intricate—that we spent nearly four months creating. I have always indulged myself in fine hand embroideries on clothes, and I saw no reason as to why that scale could not be replicated on the walls of wonderful homes. There is also a beautiful love seat in the bar lounge area. This one is special because it was carved nearly 100 years ago, and sourced from Kochi. Lastly, there is a very interesting slim console that can be placed behind a sofa. We played around with two very diverse mediums, brass and stone, bringing them together to create something well-balanced."

BT: What are a few things couples must bear in mind when shopping for their new home?

JJ: "The first thing would be to accept each other’s points of view, and then get an expert on board to create something that'll satiate both your tastes. Don't build your home based on the vision of another person's home. While you can draw inspiration and pick up elements from your friends' spaces, make sure that you play with a bunch of designs and patterns—with the help of a professional—to give your abode an edge over others." 

BT: Lastly, how can couples ensure that their space retains a warm and homey feel while investing in contemporary pieces?

JJ: "A home must always have a sense of timelessness—it must endure, and evolve with its owner. It must also be full of your memories. Just remind yourself to not go for copy-paste décor; do not see what everybody is doing and try to imitate them. It is important to give your living space a personal touch, picking up from our own experiences. I spend a lot of time understanding the client's interests, where have they travelled, what they resonate with, and what makes them feel good about their space. One must be true to themselves and create a space that is special, timeless, luxurious, homey, and warm."

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