The Cocoon

How does a couture curtain maker showcase his latest works of décor art at the country’s highest profile design show, IDS 2014?  By combining efforts with a wood and metal fabricator, in a fascinating collaboration of their talents.
Nothing Camal Pirbhai does in his artistic work is easily understood to the uncreative mind. He sees things differently than most of us. That is what makes him so successful.  There is not a single thing that comes out of his atelier, Studio LaBeaute, which is common. So showcasing his couturier drapery in a traditional manner to the Designers, Architects, Industry and Fans that visit the show, is, quite obviously, out of the question.
Following his showcase, ‘Ebony Pope’, at IDS 2013, and coming on the heels of  SALIGIA, The Seven Deadly Sins Exhibit as well as his participation in ‘VIRTUAL  TEXTILOGY’ by the Textile Museum of Canada, Camal has teamed up with the  talented Philip Brown of PAB Furniture.
Philip, who, with a background in engineering and mechanical design is motivated  and inspired by the fit, form and function of everyday things, has become a  renowned furniture designer working in both wood and metal.  The collaboration  of the two artists, who work in very different mediums, proves to be a true  inspiration.
The center piece of the booth….in fact the only thing featured in the booth is a  hand carved bench, created initially by Philip.  The bench itself is more than a  mere utilitarian tool for sitting.  It is a sculptural piece of art.  Gold leafed, the  bench features exaggerated bullion type bars whimsically fashioned.  Its legs,  stacked bars creating a totem like feel, ground the piece.  The totem theme  continues with an eight foot stack to one side.  This is where Camal preformed  some of his magic.
Camal’s latest piece, a cocooned body hangs from the totem pole.  The cocoon,  like Camal’s other pieces, is intricately fashioned, with detailed beading and layers  of fabric tucked and styled.  On its own, the piece would be intriguing.  But  incorporated in to the totem bench, it becomes absolutely intriguing.
The cocoon represents the beauty of transformation.  Not just the end product,  like a cocoon producing a butterfly, but the beauty in the journey itself.  Camal,  who as an artist, is constantly in a state of transition himself, relates personally to  the cocoon.  Camal gives a nod to the curtains he creates, only by the fact that the  cocoon also hangs.  But it sways and moves; it is not as static.  “I will never take  the set path’, Camal says ‘true art only comes when you test the limits, when you  take the path never travelled”.  Camal doesn’t just make curtains, he creates a vision.
Camal’s pet project, Gallery Bespoke, is an extension of Studio LaBeaute.  Gallery Bespoke’s primary goal is to showcase Canadian artistic talent and ideas without the pressure to sell, conform or cater to a specific style or look.  Projects such as Ebony Pope or this latest concept let him take the detour he craves.  It also allows those lesser creative humans among us, certainly me included, to get a peak in to the mind of this creative virtuoso.
Philip Brown and Camal Pirbhai’s concept piece can be seen in the Studio North exhibit during the Interior Design Show 2014, being held at the Direct Energy Centre January 23rd to 26th. 
For more information on Camal Pirbhai, Studio La Beaute and Gallery Bespoke visit his website at www.studiolabeaute.com
For more information about Philip Brown and PAB Furniture, visit his website at www.pabfurniture.com


Saligia_7 Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins

To say the Camal Pirbhai is the Picasso of Home Couture would not be too far from the truth.  His company, Studio La Beauté, has catered to the crème de la crème of the country’s elite for nearly 20 years.  He humbly calls himself a curtain maker, but he is far from that.  His talent is immense, with each of his creations more of a work of art than home décor.  Raised in Switzerland and classically trained in England, Camal started as a teen training under the best couturier’s in the world.   He travelled back to Canada where he has been able to turn his passion into a career.
When given the time and opportunity, Camal channels his curious creative energy into collections of the absurd and peculiar.  Gallery Bespoke, a sister company to Studio La Beauté acts as the vehicle for Camal's creative genius.  Case in point is his latest project, SALIGIA….The Seven Deadly Sins, a collection far and away his most creative and personal to date.

Some deep introspection was the inspiration for SALIGIA.  He recognized that some of the characteristics he saw in other people, not always flattering, were characteristics that he at times, recognized in himself.  A year ago, a simple white gown on a mannequin, became the inspiration for what became a video project.  Assisted by photographer and friend Christina and her fiancé and fellow artist Lloyd they trespassed in to a ‘borrowed’ space in the middle of the night, painting the walls and floors, and transforming the gown into a video art piece.  Defacing the space that wasn't his gave him the instant thrill of the ‘improperness’ of the whole thing.  As an artist, the instant gratification was intriguing.  Wrong but beautiful.  The project was completed and Camal brought the space back to its original drabness before sunrise.  No one would even know he was there. Christina documented the evening in photographs and will be showing them at the opening gala.
The video became the genesis of the SALIGIA project, representing the ‘sin’ of Wrath.  The Seven Deadly Sins, in the original Latin Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula Ira, Acedia or ‘SALIGIA’ are interpreted intriguingly by Camal.  “Each of us embodies these characteristics in one way or another” Camal says “they don’t need to be interpreted in a negative way…..they are part of what makes each of us human.  Dissecting these characteristics is fascinating”. 
Each of the sins was ultimately fashioned in to a sculptural art piece. Each piece is worn by a model who epitomizes the characteristic.  A touchy proposition to find models needless to say.  But Camal was able to inspire each participant, who not only agreed to wear the piece but also help to create the piece along with Camal, either physically or through extensive discussion.

Gluttony is represented magnificently through a theatrical mask made in part from chicken wing bones.  The incongruity of the whole thing is outrageous.  Friend and artist Mimmo was the inspiration for this piece.  A classically trained Italian painter, Mimmo confided that he had a secret passion for chicken wings that absolutely no one knew about.  Camal and Mimmo gluttonously ravaged pounds and pounds of chicken wings one evening in a celebration of the concept.  Meticulously weaving the left overs together created the piece. 
September 7th, 2013 marks the unveiling of Camal’s SALIGIA to coincide with the Toronto International Film Festival.  La Casa Del Habano in Yorkville will host the event during TIFF.  You can see more of Camal’s work on the Gallery Bespoke website including the video piece created for the Textile Museum of Canada called ‘Virtual Textilology’. 

Camal is also featured in City Home, a special edition of Toronto Life, on stands November 30th, and will participate in Studio North at the 2014 Interior Design Show held in Toronto.
For more information on Camal Pirbhai, Studio La Beauté, Gallery Bespoke and the SALIGIA project, visit www.gallerybespoke.com         



21st Century Renaissance...by Orly Leaman

When an object has something more to say than how beautiful it is; we call it a work of art.

“The creation has become a vessel to communicate something beyond the sum of materials it was created from. That is how it elevates itself beyond an ordinary craft.”
Camal Pirbhai is not only Toronto’s up-and-coming Textile Artisan, he is locally famous for being the only one in North America, with a European education in couture hand sewing and the rare skill sets of fabricating custom hardware for most of his projects. And recently he is made quite splash at the Toronto Interior Design show; with an impactful textile sculpture, entitled Ebony Pope. The exhibit was an eight foot tall mannequin, with two outstretched arms, wearing nothing but open robe, with painted peau de soie silk, black velvet, embroidered metallic mesh, pleating, and sentient lighting that was woven into the fabric that neatly draped over each outstretched arm.


While this edgy sculpture inspired some interesting discussions, the buzz had little to do with the religious iconography.
When questioned, Pirbhai mentioned that he appreciated the impact and responses to his work. “The reactions to my art are every bit as important as the actual exhibit itself. Without the reactive and interactive component, I feel like what I’ve created is incomplete.”   And the public certainly reacted. Comments ranged from “the mesmerizing result pulses with inner life” to “at first I was shocked by the visual, yet I found myself wanting more.”
And while there were those who took offence, Pirbhai’s didn`t seem to enjoy what on-lookers were saying.  “I don’t care if the critics hate what I’ve done.  As long as my textiles are being judged by the same critical standards as a painting, a dance or a musical composition; they’ve given me my due respect.”  And his wish was definitely granted.
People drew parallels between Pirbhai’s sculpture and Andy Warhol’s legendary Campbell Soup display.  Some considered his sculpture to be a shrewd, self-promotion ploy to distract the public from his true master piece; achieving fame. Others felt that as a haute couture designer he was in direct opposition to Warhol’s non-judgemental stance towards mass production and popular culture? 
Although Pirbhai attested that Warhol was by no means a catalyst for this exhibit, he did note that he found Warhol “interesting because he brought the process of promotion and public relations to the level of an art. Prior to that, it was never perceived that way. That was his artistic contribution. I respect how he expanded the definition of beauty and art.”
And while some on-lookers thought that Ebony Pope was a black religious icon, Pirbhai admitted that it was never his intention to make commentary about race. None-the-less, he loved the interpretation and but truly enjoyed how “people have pre-conceived notions on everything. And I like playing with those ideas. I strive to challenge people and their imaginations. The theme is all about the intangible things we inherit that influence how we interpret our experiences. Intention to me is irrelevant.
 “The creation has become a vessel to communicate something beyond the sum of materials it was created from. That is how it elevates itself beyond an ordinary craft.”
And that’s what I’m looking for. As an artist, the materials I use happen to be textiles. It is the medium I choose to communicate all my concepts, messages and ideas through.  My art is never just original fabrication in vein. It has to mean something special.”


And while there are no correct or incorrect interpretations about what his exhibit means, there are several facts about this Pirbhai that are definitively clear.
Number one, No machine can do what Pirbhai has been trained and qualified create by hand.   Machinery is never involved in anything he fabricates.  It is forbidden. Number two, he never creates anything twice. Originality is sacred and he is clear when he states that he is` `always up for the challenge of “re-inventing my own profession; evolving it to keep the art form alive. `` 
Law of Fabrication

There are certain principles Pirbhai calls the laws of his fabrication. And he lays them all out succinctly in a few sentences. “My textiles should be just as expressive as watching a ballet or a listening to a piece of music. `` And I promise each client to use my craft in a manner that encapsulates the: identity, mood, culture, values, personality or that they are seeking. `` Everyone is unique so nothing I create is ever the same. It makes more sense if you look at it this way.  “The difference between original and unoriginal is the decision that a singer makes to sing a song they have composed themselves or someone else’s. I for one am not interested in the Karaoke approach to fabrication. I`m quite sure that my clients don`t want to see their personality in someone else`s home.” 

According to Camal, the greatest challenge that Textile Artisans are facing today, is to overcome the ambivalence people have towards mass consumerism. Mass production “is producing lazy, alienated artisans who are disconnected from their passion, and the materials they work with. They have lost their drive to communicate something special”.
With commissioners who are patrons of the arts that support free thinking, inventiveness and individual expression. Pirbhai takes pride in showcasing the uniqueness of their homes and buildings. “There isn’t anything that isn’t made by or touched by my hands, regardless of whether I`m designing drapery that is minimalist and modern or traditional and formal. When you walk into a home where [his] work is displayed, you can intuitively appreciate how the owner relates to the world; without even meeting them.”


One point Camal really drives home is that it takes artistic integrity to make the world painfully self-aware of how closed minded they have been in the present. And he cautions us to listen carefully to artists who found beauty in places the world never knew beauty and artistry could exist in.

When asked about which artists had inspired Pirbhai, he mentioned that works of Chef Ferranti Adria of El Bulli, because he prepared entrées that allowed people to experiences tastes beyond sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and hot.
It made [Pirbhai] question the point mainstream society dictated that certain possibilities were utterly inconceivable.”

From Anna Pavlova [he] learned that  beauty is a subjective experience, by showing ballet critiques that the daintiness and vulnerability of her tall, slender, long limbed figure was enchanting in a different way than her contemporaries; during a period when the industry standard  praised the acrobatics of ballerinas with: small, strong, stalky, muscular, compact bodies. 

And early impressionists like Monet and Manet taught [Pirbhai] the dangers of relying on technologies (like the camera) in the context of art.  After all, art is not only about accuracy. It’s also a vessel for original self-expression. ``


Pirbhai’s clients’ are acutely aware, that the space they occupy is a reflection of their true: identity, ideas, styles, culture, and favourite period in history, personality and values. To them, quality textiles are one of the many mediums they used to celebrate and showcase these aspects about themselves. And Camal understands that "weather the client’s predilection is modern and minimal or formal and ornate; there is something original to say in every genre, through fabrication.”  And with that, he ended the interview with a question. “What type of conversation would [my] own space inspire?”