An endless curiosity and love of storytelling is at the heart of designer, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Waris Ahluwalia’s various pursuits. This month sees the opening of House of Waris RARE; a retail space cum treasure trove nestled in the Explorer’s Library at Venice's stunning Luxury Collection’s Gritti Palace Hotel. It is the culmination of a three-year expedition which has seen Ahluwalia travel the globe, working closely with local artisans and historic brands to create a rich library of stories, narrated through a collection of exquisite objects. Within the exhibition, ancient custom is celebrated alongside contemporary design, as owl ornaments in vintage Fortuny fabrics jostle with one-of-a-kind breadboards by Istanbul based, award-winning design studio Autoban and exclusive cermanics in altered in porcelain by Carey Lowell.
Here, to mark the opening of this heady constellation of beauty, tradition and modernity, Ahluwalia answers Jefferson Hack's personal version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, revealing both the influence of Atticus Finch and his current obsession with black cod.
What are you thinking of right now?
Swimming in the warm sea. And miso black cod.
What makes you laugh?
A Frank Capra film.
What makes you cry?
Destruction of our planet. And Dances with Wolves.
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
Water supply and distribution of course.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure who has guided or influenced you?
Where do you feel most at home?
Wherever I have friends.
What do you most like about the age we live in?
Where are you right now?
Right over there, to the left, just past the trees.
What is your proudest achievement in work?
Not there yet. Soon to come.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
To be true to myself.
What do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
At what points do life and work intersect?
I create with my heart so life and work inevitably intersect all too often.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Fear none, respect all.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
To be true to myself.
Recommend a book or poem that has changed your perspective on life?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.
What’s the most important relationship in your life?
My mother. And my darling mischievous friends.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
Slipping on the ice in a brutal December winter. Maybe that's why I'm not a fan.
What’s the most romantic action you’ve taken?
Once, in a previous life, I scaled the tallest mountain and crossed the vastest desert to find her.
What’s the most spiritual action you’ve taken?
Dancing. Breathing. Smiling.
If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
A sense of personal responsibility spreading uncontrollably like the plague.
The House of Waris RARE is at the Gritti Palace, Venice.
Text by Caroline Lever