Celebrated photographer-producer Atul Kasbekar has teamed up with media industry veteran and well known luxury brand consultant Mitrajit Bhattacharya, to launch The Corner Room Project, an exclusive luxury content platform for men
Talk bespoke clothing, high end cigars, single malts, wines, luxury watches, footwear, travel destinations, cuisine, automobiles - in short anything that a discerning gentleman, seeking something out of the ordinary, would want to know about – and the information is often sketchy, not very reliable or up-to-date and perhaps difficult to find. The Corner Room Project – set up by celebrated photographerproducer Atul Kasbekar and media industry veteran and well known luxury brand consultant Mitrajit Bhattacharya – has set out to address precisely that. The venture is already associated with several top luxury brands, and has Kasbekar’s keen eye for detail and Bhattacharya’s expertise to speak for it. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Atul Kasbekar and Mitrajit Bhattacharya in which they talk about the project and how it is shaping up:
Q] How did the idea of The Corner Room Project materialize?
Atul Kasbekar: Talk of advising women on fashion, make-up, branding, clothing, etc., and you will find a large number of influencers. However, for men from the late 20s onwards, there are very few influencers who can give advice in terms of the richer, cooler things in life. That is why we curated an interesting social media influencing platform – The Corner Room Project – on men’s luxury, influencing their choices. For both of us, there’s always been a deep interest in workmanship and a passion for art. Therefore, it was easy for us to roll out a project which will play a major role as an influencer in men’s lives. That said, it’s a one-stop-shop for the luxury quotient of Indian men that includes single malts, wines, gins, spirit to luxury watches, clothing, travel destinations, cuisine, automobiles, to name a few. Recently, we were invited by half a dozen of the world’s top watch brands to their manufacturing facilities in Switzerland. Then we were hosted in Dubai by Panerai, the Swiss-Italian watch brand. So, across the board, anything that would be really well made and that you would need a keen eye to identify is our domain. The basic aim of The Corner Room Project is simple – be the Wikipedia of the luxury space.
Mitrajit Bhattacharya: Actually, my conversation with Atul lasted less than a minute! When I explained the concept, he not only understood it, but was excited and said it’s very organic, very natural for us to form the association. That’s how it happened.
We aim to create a curated space, really even handcraft our stories. Content creation is expensive, and difficult because we also have an ambition of doing it worldwide, so we shoot, we do videos, we do interesting stuff and have fun in the process.
Q] How big a team are you working with? And what is the composition of the team?
AK: At present, the headcount is 10. Our team consists of producers, writers, editors, a back-end digital team and photographers. The editors are not on full-time payroll and their engagement depends on project basis. There is no point engaging only a set of people because their knowledge might be limited in articulating something zippier. That’s why we have a team from across the spectrum which brings in experience with more skillbased knowledge. Their involvement depends on how challenging the work is likely to be. That said, eventually, we will plan to grow the team.
MB: It also depends on exactly what Atul is visualising. So the same video editors will not work for all our videos. Somewhere, the video is almost complete and you just need to package it, you get it done from somewhere. When Atul is shooting, we have a different set of people who actually colour-correct the photographs. A certain amount of rigour goes into segmenting what we are doing and then putting effort to get them to the best shape. On the business side, we are working with big agencies like Group M for their clients like Hublot and TAG Heuer.
Q] Which are some of the brands that you are already working with?
AK: Currently, we are working with brands like Montblanc. We have worked with Greubel Forsey, a niche brand and probably the holy grail of watch-making. We also worked with Panerai and Hublot. Next in line are the automobile biggies like Ferrari and Maserati. We worked with Piquadro, an Italian luggage brand. In terms of individuals, we have worked with ace designers like Raghavendra Rathore and Arjun Khanna. In addition, we will soon be collaborating with Rohit Bal and Manish Malhotra. Locally, we have taken up assignments for the Bombay Shirt Company, Rare Rabbit apparels, and we were the first ones to shoot at Qualia owned by Chef Rahul Akerkar or Salt Bae’s hugely famous Nusr-et in Dubai. In the fine spirits category, we collaborated with the Vault Concierge, a successful aggregator in this space.
Q] What is the end result? What would you actually do for those brands?
AK: Let me give you an example. We recently came across exceptional gins such as Herno, Tarquin’s and Monkey 47. And we discovered that not everyone is familiar with these brands. It may not be common for many people in India, but if we ensure awareness on a large scale, the consumer might want to buy it. This will, at least, compel consumers to change their taste.
Over a period of time, people change their taste and look beyond certain brands. For instance, in an early stage if you are inclined towards Absolut vodka, then after a particular time, you may develop a taste for Grey Goose or Belvedere. So, with The Corner Room Project, our intention is to influence the decision-making power of consumers for brands which they are not aware of. Another example is customised shirts. Who would know that there is a manufacturer that provides customised shirts as per the requirement? The Bombay Shirt Company has really good options for gentlemen with shirts measured to your body. Once you’ve sorted yourself out over there, and it’s a certain kind of shirt that you like, then it’s just a question of calling and saying, “I will take two in blue, one in pink and three in white.” And you are done.
MB: Atul mentioned a gin, Monkey 47 - we didn’t know that there are 47 botanical herbs in it, so that’s how it’s called 47. Or a Greubel Forsey watch; it costs about a million dollars - in India, with taxes, duties and everything, that watch will be close to Rs 9 crore. So, when we are talking about a Rs 9 crore watch, we also want to give you a little more information about why it’s so expensive. So, we are pointing things out and curating things. Our target audience is 25-30+ men.
Q] Do you intend to tie up with other influencers going ahead?
AK: Eventually, it will happen considering the gamut we cover, it will be impossible to cover so many things yourself. We will tie-up with business-to-business related mediums that will allow us to tap a larger audience.
Q] What are your priorities for this year?
AK: We want to create ripples in India. When we started, our Instagram handle was picked up and we got hosted straightaway for a week in Switzerland by five top brands of the world. If they didn’t see potential in something like this, they would not have wasted their money.
MB: But we are looking at going beyond India too. In this space, if you are good, you are global.
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org Category: Interview Volume No: 15 Issue No: 52
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