Elegant, stylish and absolutely stunning, it's not hard to see where Kristina Bobs, founder and creative director of Svaja, gets her inspiration from. Just like the former model, the Svaja collection is beautiful both inside and out.
The UK-based company, which was launched in 1999, has grown from strength to strength. Bobs says, "I came to the UK from Lithuania to study. When I studied in England I spotted an opportunity. Everyone was going for magnolia walls and everything was very plain. Nobody had beautiful accessories. I managed to set up Svaja, and exhibited in the UK and was later selected by John Lewis, Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods. We have a few statement pieces and, if you don't even buy flowers for your home, with a Svaja piece it still looks beautiful."
The company has since expanded to Japan and even managed to flourish during the recession. Bobs says, "We noticed after one year into the recession that people were still buying our pieces. People wanted to invest in colour. When someone falls in love with our pieces they will buy them." Having travelled extensively, it seems Bobs is never short of inspiration wherever she goes. She says, "Inspiration comes when I see something beautiful. It can be a car, a beautiful diamond or a sunset. The Madagascar range, for example, was inspired by the colours of Madagascar. I thought about how I could put those colours into glass. Fashion is very close to interior design and now architecture, fashion and interior design is one total thing, so it is good to look at fashion for inspiration too."
Bobs professes that she likes toned shaded colours for her products as these create a much more interesting effect. Such products available from Svaja include a glorious abundance of coloured vases, stemware, platters and even wall panels that are all made from the highest-grade soda glass. Today, Svaja can be found in the Middle East including Dubai's Bloomingdale's store and many of the best hotels in the UAE. "We noticed a lot of people were ordering pieces and sending them to Saudi Arabia for Shaikhs' apartments and presidential suites and we realized that there was a market for us in the Middle East. We have now established a market in the UAE and the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi will have at least five pieces of Svaja in each room. It's very exciting as the hotel will be in the Guinness Book of Records." Elsewhere Svaja pieces have been commissioned for Radisson Yas Island and the Crowne Plaza Festival City.
Offerings from Svaja vary from anything from Basil the bird (a delicate bird designed glass-blown ornament) to brightly shaded paperweights. With such a diverse range it is hard to pick one item out, so does Bobs have a favourite? "We have a number of collections, but my favourite piece is the Scarlet Orchid Vase. It is so beautiful and is one of the best-selling items in John Lewis. I like the shape, the rich red colour and the minimalism; it's very elegant."
While the company has been commissioned by everyone from Dulux to Harley Davidson, one of the most unusual pieces it ever made was when it was commissioned by an oil company. "A blue chip oil company wanted something unusual," recalls Bobs. "I wondered what we could do. My mind was blank, which doesn't happen often! Then I went to the kitchen and the tap dripped and I thought that's what we can do, so we did a drop with some black in it and it was a success." Other exciting opportunities for Svaja include her work for the former UK Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair. Bobs explains, "Cherie Blair has a Svaja piece - a beautiful apple that we presented her. She had the apple in her hand and she said it was like Jennifer Lopez' bottom, so that's official!"
Whether the apple really does resemble this remains to be seen, but one thing is certain and that is that the brand is popular with celebrities. Footballers such as Michael Owen are said to own a piece of Svaja and many members of governments profess to being fans. However, the best thing about Svaja is that it is not reserved only for dignitaries or celebrities, even if the pieces may look as though they are. The truth is that items from the Svaja collection are popular wedding gifts and prove an attractive addition to any home, whether an elaborate palace or more humble abode.