“I like to make things that are funny and a bit absurd,” says New York-based creative director Rajeev Basu. And he’s not wrong. In the past, we’ve covered Rajeev’s hilariously silly side projects, like Waiting in Line 3D, a video game where you wait in line/punch yourself in the face, and a speculative project which asked creatives to imagine what drones would look like once they became legal. But Rajeev’s latest project, Between Two Naps, has to be the most absurd to date…
Just over a year ago, Rajeev adopted a puppy called Remy, who is a chiweenie (no, we didn’t know either – it’s a dachshund crossed with a chihuahua!) and Rajeev soon realised that pretty much all Remy wanted to do was nap. “In fact, I think Remy has taken it up competitively,” he jokes. The other thing he realised, is that Remy gets cold a lot. Cue Between Two Naps, a collection of high-fashion helmets – for dogs.
“While there are lots of things out there for dogs, I wondered if I could make something a little more interesting, irreverent, and with a sharper aesthetic,” Rajeev says of his new project, which wouldn’t go amiss in the Japan House Architecture for Dogs shop right now. “I’m a big fan of brands like OAMC, Craig Green, Raf Simons, and early Maison Margiela,” he says, citing some of the sources of inspiration for the pieces.
With such refined influences, the helmets are a thing to behold: each is soft and padded, and uses Japanese parts and luxury fabrics from France and Italy. There’s the Sleep Force 1 (an art piece which is not for sale), which turns famous logos into sleep-related puns. And then there’s the Sleepover XL, which is perhaps the most avant-garde of the entire collection and not one for the faint-hearted. Our personal favourite, however, is the Nappo, a Moncler-esque padded hood which wouldn’t look out of place in a Skepta video. The concept is simple, Rajeev explains: “They are designed to keep dogs warm and nap-ready at all times.” Each is also one-of-a-kind and handmade in New York both to “keep them special” but also to allow room for new ideas to develop.
Interestingly, Rajeev has no formal background in fashion but he’s designed and constructed the helmets entirely from scratch. “My wife, Kelly Miller, a fashion accessories designer who has previously worked at places including Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade, acted as a creative advisor,” he tells us. “It was fun to do a project altogether, from coming up with the idea, physically making them, making a brand, and putting them out into the world.”
Originally from London, Rajeev now works at a music streaming platform and over the years has worked for agencies including Fallon London, CP+B Boulder, and W+K New York. This has allowed him to work on a plethora of projects; everything from “surreal art films for Gap, where clothes dance around on sticks to rap music,” to the time he put a plaque on the walls of the LACDA gallery in LA stating he had “claimed” the entire gallery, all the work inside and every person visiting it “as part of a live performance art piece about people visiting a semi-successful art gallery.”
Clearly, Rajeev’s creative practice is one rooted in humour and lateral thinking. His overall approach, he tells us, is to “make funny, interesting things that just so happen to be advertising. Not the other way around. I think there’s a subtle but key difference, and this way you’re more likely to end up with something that people actually like.”
GalleryBetween Two Naps (Copyright © Rajeev Basu, 2020)
Sleepover XL: This helmet is perfect for sleepovers where your dog would like to take their bed with them on top of their head. Between Two Naps (Copyright © Rajeev Basu 2020)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.