Photographs by- Sarah Arfan Photography
I am a Capricorn and my colleague Rickson is a Taurean and we are both going to meet two Ariens and one Piscean who together have created one of the most sought after calendars of the Middle East – the Splash Calendar 2015 The two Ariens in question are Dubai’s own Raza Beig, CEO Splash and Iconic and Director of the Landmark Group and Tejal Patni, the salt and pepper- wavy – haired- soft spoken legendary photographer/artist who has created magic with the Splash calendar year after year. As if by contrast, balancing the two fire signs, is the gentle Piscean Furne – the renowned designer who has put together the look of the calendar that bases itself on the 12 sun signs of the zodiac. Here’s a true account of the magic that goes behind in creating the spectacular calendar – a tale of creativity, focus, easy camaraderie and oodles of team work.
Amop of wavy hair against the background of the luminescent laptop – Tejal Patni is engrossed in his laptop studying his recently clicked work. The model in a gold bronze outfit is against a wall that signifies the twin sign of the Gemini. He’s friendly, soft spoken and we connect instantly. I ask him if he’s into sun signs himself and he confesses that he was into them only when he was in love (laughs). “Yes for the calendar the research revealed that calendars on sun signs like the way we’ve shot it is very rare. It is not easy to shoot a concept where we are marrying design and fashion,” he states.
In walks the show-stopper. Raza Beig who has just returned from Arpita Khan’s wedding where he was a special guest. I ask him if the calendar is partial to Aries since the photographer and the producer are both Ariens, Raza laughs his good-natured laugh. “I was thinking of putting my own photo there,” he jokes. “Actually Capricorn was the most difficult to shoot,” he teases. Why? ‘Because the sign has horns’ “So do Aries and Taurus,” I quip. “But Capricorn took the longest to shoot,” he states and they both burst out laughing. Ask him if he is into sun signs he says no, but he doesn’t mind occasionally flipping through the columns in newspapers. “I believe in believing the positive aspects of being an Aries – they are aggressive are wonderful leaders and sometimes obnoxious.”
The calendar that fuses personalities with fashion would have been challenging to create. How did they arrive at the final concept? “There is a fashion take to the calendar and a creative take to it as well? Each month represented as the sun sings of the month dressed in what could be the fashion forecast of that month. While all this sounds great on paper, executing it is a challenge. We wanted to create magic and drama through the calendar and we have done just that,” he adds. “A calendar has to sustain long term interest. It has to generate interest of the month at least – it should generate curiosity, entertain you, be quirky to challenge your sensibilities and start a conversation,” he adds.
Furne enters the room after giving instructions to the team. “Tejal and I go back a long time and it is a dream to work with someone like Raza who understands what the client is looking for in terms of fashion and who respects art immensely. So we are a happy team,” he adds. “All the Splash calendars I have worked with have turned into works of art. This one has been the most challenging because we had to fuse sun signs with fashion. The qualities of the sun sign would be seen in the clothes I designed keeping in mind the trend, forecast and the style of that season. Also we wanted to make it dramatic,” he adds. So, did the calendar take a lot of time to ideate and shoot? “We are in the middle of shooting our 6th sign and we are not going linear. While the ideating takes long, the execution doesn’t take that long because we have a fantastic team in place,” says Furne.
So what were the aspects of design that he brought into the outfits? “We wanted it to be larger than life. So we /created a surreal calendar. Dubai is a lot about bling but we made it subtle bling. So, somewhere you can actually see sand painted silver,the Pisces sign (my sign) is shot with a model as mermaid and she is wearing transparent red flippers with crystals on them. We have to think out of the box with this brief. Like me, Pisceans are dreamers, so the Pisces shoot had a lot of dreamy elements and had to border around magic and fantasy, so we had a model posing against an anchor,” he adds.
The space reeks of creativity and happiness. As our photographer Sarah Arfan photo chronicles the behind the- scenes shoot, we are greedy to watch Patni shoot the next sign. “We‘ll take all of today to complete Gemini, tomorrow we shoot Virgo,” he says. Time and deadlines knock on my door and we have to leave the motley bunch that are the perfect combination of art, commerce, design and through this calendar, decorating Time by giving it various hues, shades and most of all personality. Figure it out when you flip through the calendar.