A Look at Designer Aly Velji’s New Modern India Furniture Collection

The Calgary designer teamed up with Montreal furniture-maker Mobilia to create a capsule collection inspired by his Indian roots.

Calgary designer Aly Velji has a new home decor collection called Modern India, which he created in collaboration with Montreal-based company Mobilia. Photograph by Jean Longpré.

For Calgary designer Aly Velji, principal at Alykhan Velji Designs and a familiar face for viewers of HGTV, CityTV and CTV, the chance to design a home decor collection with Montreal company Mobilia became an opportunity to explore his background. Velji is of Indian descent but was born in Tanzania. While he still has extended family in India, and his parents have since been back, Velji had never visited the country. But the decision to team up with Mobilia on what would become the Modern India collection finally allowed the designer to experience India for himself. “Overall with this collection, I just felt I had to go back to my roots,” he said.

As such, Modern India marries together the sleek mid-century-modern aesthetic that Velji is well known for with touches of traditional Indian design, a style that is characteristically heavy and ornate. “For me, India is full of life and culture and colour and sights and sounds and smells,” Velji said. The Indian influences can be seen and felt in the use of marble and brass as well as in the jute lighting pieces, which are hand-woven in a traditional style.

While Mobilia doesn’t have a Calgary store, items from the Modern India collection can be purchased online at mobilia.ca. Here’s a look at some of the rest of the collection, including some pieces from a recent showing of Modern India here in the city.

Velji doesn’t hesitate to say that his favourite piece in the Modern India collection is the Suki sideboard. “It’s so sculptural, it just speaks for itself,” he said. “We wanted to do something more modern and edgy but still incorporate that hand-carving technique, so we did a whitewash tone to keep it light an airy and we did a marble base on it to modernize those Indian elements.” Photograph by Jean Longpré.


The large Soma pendant lamp, as well as other lighting pieces, are done in burlap and woven in a traditional pattern. Photograph by Jean Longpré.


The collection’s range of marble trays — such as this one on display at the Calgary showing — can be placed on a sideboard, coffee table or end table, or even the floor. “I love trays because they’re so versatile,” Velji says. Photograph by Shelley Arnusch.

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