“I’d say I’m an explorer rather than a designer.

My mental state is always somewhere between the highlands of Kenya and the canopies of the Amazon. Since that’s not my reality, I surround myself with animals of all shapes and forms that I collect on adventures.

I don’t go out of my way to look for them — they appear, and then I’ll give them a home.”

“This is a present from a friend and a collaborator, [the filmmaker and photographer] Andrew Zuckerman.

We have a mutual admiration for these types of creatures.”

“A lot of these masks are used for ritualistic purposes. This is from Bali; I remember it was either the only monkey, or the only one in this color, so I knew it was for me.”

“The porcelain zebras and tiger are from Bangkok. I found them in a market. I have an affinity for animals in the wild that aren’t contained by man.

They represent a longing for exploration.”

“Leonard Cohen’s lyrics are poetry, and this book is piercing. He is one of the best musicians that we have:

A songbird that can penetrate your deepest, darkest depths.”

“I found the faux taxidermy zebra head on a hunting trip at the John Derian store in New York City. I can’t argue the aesthetic, history, and tradition of taxidermy, but you have to readjust to the times.

You can’t hunt elephants or tigers for sport when they’re about to go extinct.”

“I thought it would be fun to commission some hand-painted, paper mache birds. I found someone in India to make these for me.

The nature of my work is about putting forth the idea of craftsmanship, and its importance — what the human hand can do, and what it can create.”

“The spider crab is from a collection I did many years ago with the designer Benjamin Cho, called ‘Decomposition of the Flesh, Not of the Mind.’

It was cast from a real spider crab. The monkey was cast from a midget monkey I captured one summer in Bora Bora — no, I made it [for a different collection] because I wanted to make monkeys.”


Photography byChris Bernabeo

As told toAnthony Rotunno

Waris Ahluwalia is a New York City-based designer, actor, and explorer. House of Waris, his fine jewelry collection, is available online and in select retailers.

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