Rekha von Bueren shares a common philosophy with her husband when it comes to running a company. “Don’t forget where the passion came from and why you started doing it,” she says when I ask about the challenges that came with running Maizen, the multi-label store she co-founded with her friend, Shirieene Hajamaideen, more than a decade ago. Now, she sees her husband, Nicklas von Bueren, abiding by the same principle when it comes to managing Lotus Arts de Vivre, the Thai company that is synonymous with the creation of one-of-a-kind objets d’art.
“Nicki has been approached many times about taking the brand mass but he has always been adamant about saying no,” she says. “Because then, it isn’t Lotus anymore. They (Lotus) really love the art and craft so much that they are really sticking to their philosophy.”
In journalistic terms, it is really quite difficult to describe Lotus Arts de Vivre, the company founded by Rolf von Bueren and his wife, Helen, more than 30 years ago. To give it a generic lifestyle brand label will take away the intricacies that go into the creation of each individual object.
“What’s unique about what Lotus does is that usually you visualise the piece first, then you get the raw materials,” explains Rekha. “But with Lotus, they don’t want to change the raw materials and the design actually comes after that. That is actually quite difficult to do because they are not actually cutting or manipulating the piece in its original form but they are enhancing it, which makes it special. There is so much respect for the material in its original form.”
Putting the extent of work that goes on at the workshop into words, she says, is difficult to do. A wing, for example, is individually attached to an object or piece of art.
“One by one,” Rekha describes. “Everything they do is like that. Each piece is made by hand. I am always quite fascinated because what they do is very different,” she says. “To me, it was an amazing learning experience. And I am still learning. Whenever I go into their workshop, there is always something new that they are doing.”
Comparing this to her own retail experience, Rekha says, “This is like a one-off handmade dress and it is different. There is a lot of love and thought that goes into it. For the wearer, there is the opportunity to feel special. You are wearing something that either has been made for you or speaks to you. It is yours and it is individual.”
It is, however, not an appreciation that everyone has. Rekha believes that it is something that is fast disappearing in today’s fast-paced world. Not everyone, she says, understands why Lotus is priced the way that it is. But she reminds us that at Lotus, the pieces are unique, produced only once or perhaps twice.
“It is usually when people have all the other big brands and are now looking for the unique piece that they buy Lotus. It is about very sophisticated tastes,” she says, adding “it comes with a certain refinement, education and exposure”.
More about Rekha von Bueren and Lotus Arts de Vivre is available in Prestige Malaysia’s November 2016 issue.