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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vision To Visuals: A Savory Combination

Photography and gastronomy of the highest order come together at a Manhattan restaurant

Rohini admitted to us that she had been shopping around for different printers, but when she came to Duggal and saw the breadth of options she had for reproducing these fine-art photographs, she was “blown away” and confidently handed us the entire project. For me, trust is the most valuable aspect of a successful project, and by putting her trust in our team, Rohini opened the doors to an extremely creative collaboration.

We produced 18 images of varying sizes and substrates for At Vermilion. Almost all of the images were either sepia-toned or black-and-white, which allowed us to choose substrates that would convey subtlety and maintain sensuality as the underlying theme for the space. For four of the images, we chose to create oversized metallic prints with images printed directly onto brushed metal at 4x8-foot sizes. The white areas in the images were replaced by the highlight of the metal, creating soft, sensual silhouettes that merged perfectly into the urbane decor of the restaurant. For four other images, we chose one of my favorite printing techniques at Duggal, called Sheervision. When images are mounted on this material, they become translucent, and when backlit with even the lowest source of light, they’re softly aglow, giving a new birth to the image. Printing them at sizes of 4x7 feet and suspending them with cables alongside columns with a light source behind them created pools of radiating photographic corners in the restau-rant, magnificent in the soft dim of the dinner hour. Large lightboxes were created for two more images to establish a focal point for the photographic installation in the restaurant. Light-boxes always add a rich layer of experience in any space, especially when it’s as beautifully decorated as At Vermilion. Finally, the largest installation at the restaurant was a triptych created of the most sensual image of all. This piece, at 12x8 feet, was an image of the upper back of a woman, ab-stracted in its shape by enlarging to the final size. We printed it on three separate mirror pieces with a high-gloss finish and installed it in three panels on a rich red leather-paneled wall, creating astounding impact with the contrast of the soft and rigid textures.

Producing these photographs on different tactile mediums and ranging tonalities of color and light created a dining environment that was breathtaking in all its subtlety and beauty. Surprisingly, the presence of 18 large-scale photographs in At Vermilion in no way overshadows the dining experience. Rather, they collectively en-hance the sensuality that Rohini has so diligently and thoughtfully evoked across all aspects of her restaurant experience. Working closely with a client like Rohini is always a pleasure for my team, for she is as emotionally invested in the outcome as we are. For me, however, the most exciting part of the project was the inadvertent outcome of all its parts, something I had thought was unachievable—Indian cuisine successfully equated with the adjective sensuality.

Baldev Duggal, president and founder of Duggal, has been innovating visual solutions for image-makers for more than 40 years. Credited with building and designing the industry’s first dip-and-dunk processing machine, Duggal has maintained his status as a leader in the imaging business and is heralded for outstanding service by consumer and trade magazines alike. With digital capabilities reaching worldwide, his headquarters covers a block on West 23rd Street in New York City.


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