The splendid British architecture of Colaba, Mumbai, make a perfect home for Lotus Arts de Vivre's flagship store. From artefacts and statues to table decor and beyond, every piece from this brand echoes with opulence and grandeur.
By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: April 13, 2023
Opulent, rare and highly artistic, Lotus Arts de Vivre is a brand that brings a creative edge to the natural elements we see around us. From using rolls of cinnamon to make a bowl or pure sterling silver to create a floating alligator with his head, torso and tail - each a separate piece - to a Japanese hand-painted fan to make a handbag, the brand aims to integrate nature into art rather than the other way round.
Nicklas & Rolf Von Bueren
The resplendent by-lanes of Colaba, that still breathe British architecture, is the perfect spot for the Lotus flagship store. As I entered the quaint store, I was plastered with awe and wonder by looking at every piece on display; every item ingenious in its design, materials and craftsmanship - all exemplarily done. Talking to Rolf Von Bueren, the founder of Lotus Arts de Vivre at the store, made his love for art and culture even more evident.
Lotus found its roots in Thailand when German-born Rolf Von Bueren visited the country in the 1960s. He has since found his home in the mystic country as he grew interested in the kingdom's architecture, culture and art. Mr. Von Bueren and his wife, Helen Von Bueren, founded the brand when their sons, Sri and Nicklas, left home for further studies. Four decades later, the brand has carved a niche for itself, thanks to its ingenuity, artisanship and sheer love for art. Currently, Sri and Nicklas Von Bueren look after the brand. "I am learning everyday and maybe more so now, as I slowly take over the reins," says Nicklas Von Bueren, the younger son.
A bowl made of cinnamon sticks
Mr. Rolf Von Bueren has forever been an avid collector and, along with his family, has travelled worldwide to discover and collect unique art pieces, meet artisans and understand their skills and heritage, and discover raw materials that can be shaped beautifully. They consider travelling their biggest inspiration and motivator to help conserve local artistry and techniques. “In truth, there is nothing more luxurious than that which we cannot have, and it is an unimpeachable facet of human nature to covet that which seems out of reach,” says the founder.
Lotus Arts de Vivre is a wholesome brand. The brand is currently offering lifestyle, jewellery, and home decor factions, with its creations featuring unconventional materials coupled with precious metals and gemstones, finessed with knowledge of unparalleled craftsmanship to create a symphony of wearable art - a truly one-of-a-kind piece. Every material requires its expert. When there is more than one material involved, the brand commissions the specific expert for its part; hence the finished product that reaches the doorstep is an outcome of multiple experts and numerous man-hours, and is exceptionally well crafted.
As I skimmed through the store, a unique earring caught my eye, and after that came a snake necklace, both pieces shared the same beautiful iridescent blue-to-green shift. The jewellery pieces were a part of the Scarab collection - pieces made from the body of naturally expired scarab beetles. The tamarind trees in Thailand attract many of these beetles; when the insect dies, its shell is carefully removed. "To me, the colours of the scarab wings are more perfect than any lacquer, enamel, or even any emerald or sapphire,” exclaimed Mr. Von Bueren.
Scarab beetles also find their traces in the Egyptian and Thai royal families. However, there's more to what meets the eye. Mr. Von Bueren further told me it takes about five days to complete a single scarab bracelet, where each wing is shaved to the chosen thickness with surgical precision before being glued onto the piece. While the bracelet and earrings use the scarab's wings, the snake necklaces use its torso to replicate the scales on a snake, coupled with rubies for its eyes.
They say nature is the biggest inspiration. At Lotus Arts de Vivre, it is actually true! The brand metamorphosizes extraordinary material into exquisite art. The brand has carved out an entire collection depicting the various famous and endangered species of wildlife using teak branches, teak root or driftwood to hand-carve and creates exceptional designs. Teak is native to South and Southeast Asia, and very rare, making every piece even more valuable. The brand has used a teak root to make a table decorated with sterling silver falcon, cheetah and horse. Similarly, a teak branch has found itself in a shape of a preying cheetah, with its head, paws and tail made from pure sterling silver. These pieces take over four months to complete, with about 12 artisans involved.
Lotus Arts de Vivre has also created an exquisite range of stools depicting Rhino (earthy), Elephants (spiritual), Hippo (emotional), Pig (Luck) and Dogs (Protector). These totems were sprinkled around the store, looking cute as a statement piece, that will add a unique character to any space. This collection isn't just about art, but also acknowledges the importance of these animals in various cultures and beliefs. Elaborate pieces were placed alongside miniature animal paperweights that displayed the brand's skilled artistry.
The store also featured a wall of lifestyle items like clutches and handbags with intricate embroideries. These handbags are made of bamboo and exquisite fabrics like silk and brocade enhanced with hand painting or embroidery. With some pieces taking up to one and a half months to complete, the brand offers an immaculate collection of bamboo handbags featuring various designs. The Preying Tiger & Tsavorite Bamboo Clutch is made in deep red, blue and yellow, while the Bamboo Mat Handbag has an antique Japanese temple brocade, sourced from Kyoto in Japan, with an enamel frog sitting atop the bag to guard its lock.
Sustainability is one of the core pillars of the brand. "We at Lotus Arts de Vivre are proud of our sustainable approach of taking wood and giving it a second life and a nice home. We have always been very considerate on using sustainable materials such as our rattan packaging which is produced in villages," explained Mr. Nicklas Von Bueren. The brand has made a conscious decision to use upcycled precious metals as well.
Lotus Arts de Vivre believes in the traditional meaning of luxury, and hopes to continue nurturing that philosophy. "We still believe that it is human nature that people want something others cannot have," says Mr. Nicklas Von Bueren.
The brand also wants to continue challenging itself with newer materials and techniques to expand its range. Mr. Rolf Von Bueren considers India a melting pot of culture, skill and legacy. A country with diversity and ancient methods to create exquisite textiles, handicrafts and other items, he has been to India countless times to seek inspiration and source raw materials for his creations. With Lotus' first flagship store in Mumbai, the brand wishes to cement the cultural relations between the two nations stronger.
Coordinates: Regal Cinema, Shop No.3, Suleman Chamber Housing Society, Battery St, opp. Gorden, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Art is a medium that resonates with everyone without the need for a language, and with Lotus Arts de Vivre, nature becomes its language.