Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blend and Create Style Perfected (Home Tour)

When I look around the Srirams' home, I can’t help but quote from Brideshead Revisited, “It was an aesthetic education to live within those walls.” – Evelyn Waugh. Based in the little town of Canton, Ohio, the Srirams' home is a veritable reflection of the home owners’ strong personalities, their fascination for music and art, their cultural roots, inspired details from their travels and life's explorations and an effort to enhance the everyday living. 

Sriram is a senior human resources professional, Divya - a leadership and executive coach and Rohan their 9 year old, 4th grader, who celebrates sports and geography in their myriad forms. Quoting Divya, “Sriram and I work with people a lot as part of our jobs and our personalities are aligned that way. We extend this aspect to our home decorating as well. We believe in learning from people and sharing what we have.” Having moved from Bangalore to Ohio only 3 years back, the Srirams have done a commendable job of putting it all together so beautifully in such a short time span. As you will see, their home is a manifestation of the core values that they believe in as a family, “One of the ways we build relationships is we stimulate meaningful conversations, discuss music, share our notes on inspiring books, promote art, energize with bright colors (along with lovely sunshine as our house is facing the east) and appreciate photographs of great memories. This is true for us as a family and also when we invite people home. These have been our core principles as we went about designing our home.”
Divya describes their style of decorating as "Blend and Create". “We appreciate different cultures and love India deeply. So we are constantly looking for bringing pieces together. I believe in maximizing the synergy and fusion.”And true to their style, the minute you step into their foyer, a fascinating assortment of Indo-Oriental artifacts welcome you. The black stone Hanuman statue takes center stage in the foyer. It's a tribute to Divya’s mother-in-law who was a devote follower of Hanuman. Traditional brass Kerala Villakus flanking the statue and the urli bring the South Indian touch to the foyer. The gallery wall of the foyer displays a custom made mirror that was designed by Divya and her Dad. The duo conceptualized the mirror from start to finish with the special touch being the addition of the Kanjeevaram saree border, making it a truly unique piece. Mini Tanjore paintings and wood carvings from Bangkok complete the look.

Some of the other pretty elements in the foyer, clockwise from left : (a)Divya loves collecting art made by friends and artisans.This elephant art is a special one made by a close friend and it turned out to be perfectly aligned with the flower vase which has the same color palette;(b)A Gajalakshmi Tanjore painting gifted to Divya by her parents finds a place of importance in the entryway;(c)An intricately carved Dasha avatar wooden sculpture, picked up at the Dastkar exhibition in Bangalore leads spruces up the way to the living room.   
Divya is constantly brimming with decor ideas and is a strong believer of 'storyboarding'. She does this as part of her job, when she works with corporates and extends this to her home decor design too. She says it’s all about creating a story! And boy, she sure knows how to weave an interesting one! To frame Kolam stickers  was Divya's ingenious idea.
The Sriram’s living room is a gateway to India. Tangerine hues pop against a neutral backdrop that is laid out with a variety of inviting seating options. Art from different parts of India, favorite books and meticulously curated artifacts create a cozy grandeur. Divya says, “Our living room is a place where we welcome guests to India, encourage conversations on books, showcase various coffee table books on India, music and art of India and can even play a quick game of Palan Kuzhi. Our guests have always felt energized in this room and the colors play a big role in that.”
A quick game of Palankuzhi (an ancient game of count and carry forward from Tamil Nadu) anyone?
Art is not only celebrated in the Sriram's household but it is a prominent factor in adding their individual stamp to their home. The color saturated Kerala mural painting of Nataraja was a recent addition  to their collection of art. Sriram is a huge fan of Lord Nataraja and is to be given due credit for his keen eye when it comes to art in the home. When asked who calls the design shots at home, Divya says, “Sriram was not much of a home decor enthusiast till we got married. I was always one, since I came from a family which appreciates decor deeply. Sriram followed sheepishly :) But is now a great design partner. We have our own strengths. Selecting art for the walls is always a joint decision and Sriram plays a much bigger role there to provide the meaning. He also chooses the books for the home to share with others and the music elements are chosen by him. I specialize in the color palette and conceptualizing the room design." 
I absolutely love this traditional seating option from Cottage emporium Bangalore. The Srirams were able to bring most of their favorite pieces with them from India.“We have been fortunate to have had Sriram's employer allowing us a shipment to bring our furniture all the way from India which was a huge benefit. We feel we could decorate our house to where it is today, thanks to the company which sponsored the move.”
On the opposite wall is another attention grabbing Madhubani painting. Divya says, “I love love Madhubani art! This one was custom made by an artist in Bihar based on the size of the wall that I wanted this to be showcased on. Made with acrylic paint, this art was my first one made for the home years ago. I have been inspired by TECD to align the colors of the cushion covers to the art work colors and that’s how this corner came about.”
A warm glow envelopes the room, when the lamps come on in the evening!
A view of the dining room from the living. Cushion covers from India Circus jazz up the off white upholstery. 
It's all in the details! Clockwise top from left: (a)A Bronze Nataraja statue; Another favorite of Divya's is a brass statue of Lord Karthikeya. Love the shades of deep blue and mustard in this vignette; (b)A copper kettle from Crate and Barrel houses a single stem of money plant. (c)A pair of South Indian wooden hand painted busts add the Indian flavor to this nook in the living room.  
Next up is the Sriram's formal dining room. Divya went with a calming blue in the sunlight filled space. As a contrast, she has used shades of pink and orange to keep things interesting. Pictures of extended family members, a chai corner and views of the lush green backyard, makes you want to linger long after dinner is over and have those long and meaningful conversations with family and friends.
Clockwise top from left: (a)Chai art print from the store Chumbak in Bangalore; (b)A print of Ravi Verma's famous painting "The Maharashtrian Lady" was sourced from; (c)Colorful table mats from Chumbak are a fun way to introduce the many delicious Indian dishes to their non-Indian friends and the pretty patterned seat cushions from World Market co-exist happily in the setting.
The breakfast nook near the kitchen has a casual vibe. This is where the Srirams connect as a family over breakfast and dinner. Cheerful colors and warm copper tones give this space its happy note. 
Divya likes to call this her Copper corner. The copper wiring pendant lampshade was a lucky find at a clearance event in a lighting store. Can you spot Coppre's Linear Tumblers? (Divya was the lucky winner of the Coppre giveaway hosted by TECD.)

Divya shares that several vignettes in her home have been inspired by what she sees on TECD. "TECD has been a huge inspiration! I have been following TECD for a while now and have been able to take away so much from the blog. I have observed the way Sruthi conceptualizes and takes pictures. Aligning colors at the background and foreground, placing flowers in brass and copper vessels, designing corners, placing vignettes on unique platforms like books, boxes etc. which is super innovative. My home is a testimony of what I have been learning from the TECD blog!" 

It is moments like these that makes blogging so worth-while! Thank you for your kind words Divya!
The Srirams practice the Lotus Sutra philosophy of Buddhism. A peek into their prayer corner!

The Srirams are a musically inclined family. Sriram plays the Mridangam and their son Rohan is adept at playing the piano. Jugalbandi is always a part of the weekend evenings. As the focal point of the family room,  a Kalamkari painting of Lord Shiva (also a Mrindangam player) is placed above the mantel.
The musical corner of the Srirams! Apart from South Indian Classical music, Sriram also appreciates jazz. The gallery wall in the music corner features a collage of his favorite Indo-western musicians and pictures of Sriram playing his Mridangam across different timelines.
Another one of Divya's favorite corners in the home,"Part of the dinette area, this room faces the east and captures the morning sun......all the colors in the room seem to come alive. We have some favorite magazines and books kept in this little shelf that we usually tend to discuss during our meal times." A Kalighat painting done by a dear friend, Dharitri Tripathy adorns the wall above the shelf.
Divya's work station is a functional and productive space with inspirational quotes and meaningful artifacts endorsing a positive and encouraging atmosphere. Quoting Divya, "My work demands that I be creative as I design coaching and team facilitation workshops. As a source of inspiration, I've surrounded myself with inspirational quotes, pictures of  people who give me strength and a few of my favorite things that make me happy like the Zentangle art made by a dear friend !"
As you can tell Divya loves her jewelry. Instead of putting it away in the closet, she prefers to display it, where she can see it and wear it often.

With that we come to the end of the wonderful home tour. Finally leaving you with the words that Divya shared with us about what home means to her, "Home is a place where you can collect yourself, sit in a quiet corner and read, enjoy the sun filtering in, fill the home with sandalwood incense, savor your chai at your own pace, dance to your favorite tune in your PJs, get energized with lovely bright colors, revive great memories with photographs of family and friends and pray everyday with your loved ones." 

Thank you Srirams for so graciously allowing us to tour your beautiful abode. We wish you'll luck, health and happiness!

(Image Credit/Copyright: Divya Sriram. The images may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of the home owners.) 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meet Shalini Prasad of Desha Creative (Featured Artist)

Here at TECD, we applaud people who strive to follow their dreams, people who dare to take the path less traveled, people who are passionate about what they believe in and people who inspire through their work. For this very reason, I take pride in showcasing the stories of artists and journeys of creative individuals behind a brand. Today, we take a look at the art portfolio of a new age artist Shalini Prasad. Does the name sound familiar? Yes, we’ve been introduced to Shalini earlier when we took a grand tour of her beautiful New Jersey home. With an educational background in architecture and a Master’s of Science in Design, Shalini aspired to pursue an independent and interdisciplinary creative path. She currently splits her time between her consultancy service “Desha Creative”, (specializing in brand identity, advertising, print and web design) and creating unique mixed media art. 
When I first got acquainted with Shalini’s work, it immediately came across as contemporary expressionism of her Indian roots. Her work is equal parts of beauty, authenticity and a willingness to experiment to find her distinct personal style. The end result being a patchwork collage of textures, exploration of various mediums fused with energetic colors and a translation of her love for predominantly all things Indian. Do join me while I chat up with Shalini and pick her brain to know more about her creative journey.
TECD: Hello Shalini! It’s always a pleasure collaborating with you. Let’s start by asking you how did Desha Creative take shape?
Shalini: “I have illustrated for as long as I can remember... 6 is perhaps when I started doodling caricatures (on the margins of my notebooks) and rendering eyes....lots of eyes (creepy I know). Mostly self-taught (interspersed with a few gallery workshops in my grown-up years), I started with pencil and charcoal and naturally progressed to the calligraphic pen and acrylic paints. But all along I used this more as a bonus skill/technique to enhance my academic and professional work in architecture and graphic design. It never was given enough seriousness or attention to blossom on its own accord. I did paint and draw for my mom's living room walls and left it at that for a while. 

It was three years ago, thanks to a bit of a lull in my design projects, that I inadvertently switched the roles, and this time used my graphic design expertise to enhance my fine arts work. I digitally applied textural overlays onto my free hand renderings, creating a new dimension with color, texture and space. The result is what I like to call digital mixed media art. I experimented more and more with this technique, creating high resolution scans of my freehand work and messing around with it, with the help of Adobe Creative Suite. I started to really enjoy the outcome. With no real business intent I happened to share some of my work with friends... Voila! Before I knew it "DeSha Creative Design Studio", soon became "DeSha Creative Design Studio and Art Shop."
TECD: Clearly, your work reflects your India roots. What aspect of India, talks to you? 
Shalini:"My obsession is many fold- there is the color, texture, materials, and patterns, and then there is the garb, and the culture. Coupled with my predilection toward portraiture and lifestyle, the result is what you see. The overall vibrancy that our culture has to offer is so striking from a graphic standpoint that it's too exciting to resist. I do steer in different directions such as nature, but seem to come right back to this overarching theme. I love the idea of introducing a bold modern graphic look to these traditional and simple themes.  My work as a designer and artist is surely an extension of my biography and Indian heritage. It is as simple as that.”
A glimpse at the process of bringing an idea to life
TECD: Do tell us more about your creative process?
Shalini: “I am afraid my creative process is a bit murky. I can be thrilled to bits with a final piece and completely clueless as to how I got there. What I do religiously (and inadvertently) apply to all my fine art pieces when I take to the digital realm, is my strong sense of graphic and color and keen sensitivity to space and structure. There is a general methodology though that I follow, with some steps on repeat... 
 -I am inspired
-After a bit of ideation, I create a sketch with pencil, pen or paint with acrylics (this could take from a few minutes to few days)
-I scan the free-hand art work to create a high resolution digital format 
-I rummage through my collection of some wonderful fabric scraps or fabric from my ethnic/rustic furnishings around the home
-I look at some older color dabs I have made on canvas or paper or messy color washes that my girls have made (I dig the brush strokes that kids fearlessly make)
-I create a visual combination of these various textures and then scan what appeals to me that instant
-I then juxtapose my scanned art with the found textures using a combination of design software tools
-I mess with it for hours on the computer 
-I stand at a distance and stare at the screen
-I continue to mess with the lines and the overlays, and the spatial arrangement with particular attention to the negative space (I believe there is beauty in the negative) 
-After much improvisation, there comes a point when I know that what I am staring at, is just right. I can’t describe it but it’s a good feeling.

That is how things get created at DeSha- organic and visceral and ridiculously playful!”
Divi Divi was part of a recent group exhibition at Gallery U in Westfield

TECD: On a cerebral level, what is it that you would like to convey through your art?
Shalini: “My subjects are fairly commonplace and simple- the Tree of all seasons, The Milkman, The Saree Pallu and the like. I find no reason to invent a new universe because there is much beauty in our traditional environment and culture to take cues from.I find no reason to conjure up a set poignant tale behind each piece, because I would like them to be vulnerable and accepting of one’s own interpretations.

For me the means is as important as the end. My approach and process is where lies the basis for the story behind each piece.

I would like to harbor the thought that my audience derives comfort from the familiarity of the subject, a sense of intrigue by the layers behind it, and a bit of excitement from the associations they make.

As a mixed media artist, I hope to put a smile on your face and a bit of wonder in your eyes… the meaning you take away, is your own.” 

 TECD: Where do you see your self in the next five years?
Shalini: “A solo exhibition in Manhattan!”
Commissioned artwork for a newly wed bride
Ambitious, Unique, Creative and Authentic – a lethal combination that’s bound to be a household name on the contemporary art scene. Wishing Shalini loads of luck and happiness. To view her complete art folio click here. Shalini is on FB page and Instagram, so go ahead and push that follow button to stay connected with her. For price inquiries and print specifications, write to Shalini at 

Image Credit/Copyright : Shalini Prasad - Desha Creative. The images may not be used without prior written permission from the artist. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Global-Desi Style of Decorating (Home Tour)

Over time our decorating style and preferences for color, art and artifacts, tend to evolve. I personally think, we are heading in the right direction as it indicates that we have developed a more mature and refined taste when it comes to decor aesthetics. We have been able to master the art of applying what we have observed, explored and absorbed over the years. For instance, in my initial years of decorating,  my style was distinctly ethnic Indian. But with the passage of time and my fair share of travels and all that I’ve been exposed to and experienced, I have migrated to a decorating style that I'd like to coin as the “Eclectic Global-Desi style”. I would describe this style as being largely India inspired with a streak of the modern, retro, vintage, country, contemporary and traditional vibe. But it also involves embracing and tapping into the pool of cultural diversity of different countries. Tell me how does one not fall in love with the Suzanis from Uzbekistan, Ceramics from China and Korea, wood carving from Thailand, baskets from Ghana......I need another life time to list out my wishlist! 
(This lovely corner features  traditional brass South-Indian artifacts, Maasai Tribal Wedding Necklace from Kenya and Rajasthani hand painted wooden figurines.) 
I recently chanced upon Hemal Paliwal’s (a TECD blog reader) Instagram gallery and was instantly drawn to her “Global-Desi” style of decorating. Warm tones, fresh flowers, glimmer of traditional brass Indian artifacts and global treasures come together beautifully to create a warm, relaxed and authentic style in her Nairobi (Kenya) home. Sharing with you, a few corners of her beautiful living room. 

(A pair of Thai Guardian Angle "Thepanom" Kneeling Figurines add the Asian flair to this corner of the living room.)

(Hemal loves switching things up from time to time. Here she skillfully puts together blood red Heliconias in an equally vibrant blue vase. Placed on a Kutch mirror glass work runner, the Chiwara headdress fashioned out of wood by the Bamana people of Mali makes for another beautiful addition to Hemal's global collection. )
(Heirloom silk batuas that belonged to Hemal's grandmother find a special place of importance in this pattern filled vignette.)
(Brass tribal horses from Orissa look regal against the carved wood panel from Mali)
(Hemal's painting inspired by S.H.Raza adds the much needed punch to an otherwise neutral bedroom. Intricately printed Kitenge cloth is used as a throw on the bed to pull the shades of blue and reds together.)  
(On a different day, the bedroom gets a makeover by moving things around.)
(A masai water color painting by local artist Maral Bolouri paired with Alstroemeria flowers, brass Chinese incenseburner and busts of Shiva and Parvati placed ona wooden chest complete this vignette.)
 I’m sure you enjoyed the snap shots from Hemal's home……so go ahead and mix things up! Remember the only decorating rule that you should and must adhere to is to fill your home with heart and soul!

Image Credit/ Copyright: Hemal Paliwal

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spotlight on the home decor brand "Home Sake"

“” is a Noida (UP, India) based online portal for luxurious Indian handicrafts and home décor products with the perfect blend of the old world charm of antiques, romance of vintage decor and a streak of contemporary flair. Brought to life by a team of engineers, designers, managers and philosophers in 2014, Homesake focuses on celebrating the fundamentals of good and authentic design, maintaining the balance between great quality and affordable pricing and sensitivity to the fact that the quality of lifestyle of Indian rural artisans needs to be elevated by implementing fair wages policy and technological advancement of their skill sets. 
The core team at Homesake comprising of Azeem Khan (the coder/CTO), Shubham Sharma (marketer/CMO) and Avi Aditya Jain (the Founder), have spent months curating exquisite products for Homesake with the spotlight on antique glass craft, royal metal carving and dazzling crystalware. The products are designed by their in-house team, but handcrafted in collaboration with artisans from different states in India, primarily U.P., Rajasthan, Gujrat and Haryana. I sat down with the young and competitive Avi Jain, as I wanted to know more about the Story behind Homesake. 

TECD: Hello and welcome to TECD, Avi! Let’s start by asking you why the name Homesake? 
Avi Jain: “Homesake justifies our motto, i.e. "For the love of home". We strive to bring everything and anything to make your home beautiful, all at one place, with the added advantage of great customer service and shopping from the convenience of your home. Since home decor is something that's very subjective, we are constantly working on expanding the range of home decor related products available at Homesake. We are also striving to bring more technological advancement at Homesake so as to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and memorable.”

TECD: How did the idea to start Homesake germinate? 
Avi Jain: “The idea started from my very home. Being born in a family with an eye for decor, where each part of the home was carefully designed and decorated by my mother, I never realized the struggle people go through to decorate their homes. It's only when a guest comes and showers the questions about from where did u get this, or how can we get that, that I realized the big gap. The biggest challenge is sourcing good quality products at an affordable price. So started the journey of Homesake.”
TECD: What would you say is the USP of your brand?
Avi Jain: “Each product is carefully crafted, with minute attention to detail and assured quality. We are the only website in country, offering products in compliance with International Standards. Also, the experience and uniqueness of products is un-matched.”

TECD: In a short span of a year, you have managed to create a niche for Homesake. What has been your success mantra?
Avi Jain: “I personally feel that passion shapes your success. The more passionate you are about what you do, the bigger the success. Another thing that we at Homesake believe in is that every single day should be better than the previous day. So we work hard and are very critical about our productive and creative selves.”

TECD: You recently launched an e-mag. Do share more about this with my readers?
Avi Jain:"It’s one of a kind of magazine, entire in online format, with content crowd-sourced from bloggers and influencers across the Globe. 

The idea comes from the fact, that there are a lot of home-makers and professionals, who have an eye for decor. We wanted to be the platform for people with unique decor ideas and decided to compile it in a magazine format. The magazine will be free for all and everyone passionate about decor with a good sense of design aesthetics is welcome to contribute to the Magazine. We launched our first edition of this magazine on 14th of September'2015. It can be downloaded from
And now for the products and website review:
  • Web Design –With an easy to navigate website and well categorized décor tags, shopping for what you want is a breeze. Incase of any queries you may contact their customer service support team by mailing them and be assured of a prompt response in 24 hours.  
  • Pricing and Payment Options - With the middlemen eliminated their pricing is very competitive and affordable. Homesake accepts payments through credit card, debit card and net banking. They also have Cash on Delivery option available on select products. 
  • Product Delivery and Shipping - Orders are dispatched within 2 working days or as per the delivery date specified by you at the time of placing the order. Most orders are delivered within 4 to 7 working days. All products are currently shipped to Pan-Asian countries only. (I received my package (here in Virginia) within the promised time span and the contents were in good condition.)
  • Product Quality - I’ve used my salad spoon and fork, napkin rings and crystal votive holders on a number of occasions and love them. 

What sets apart a home from a house is the “details”. If you are looking for that special touch, browse through the entire collection of Homesake and get shopping today! To get in touch with Homesake, write to them at or connect with them via their FB page. Thank you Avi for reaching out to TECD. We wish you all the very in your entrepreneurial journey! 

(The views and opinions in this post  w.r.t. the product review are solely mine).

(Image copyright/credit: 1,2,3 - Homesake ; 4,5,6  - Product styling and photography Sruthi Singh)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ganapathi Bappa Moriya!

"Ganesh Chaturthi" - excitement, grandeur, customs and traditions surrounding this festival is something I like to absorb completely. The whole idea behind celebrating each Indian festival at my place is to introduce our 8 year old son to his Indian roots and to inculcate an understanding and appreciation of what, how and why of our Indian culture. Apart from that, it is a wonderful time to revisit old memories and recreate the magic. Not to mention the festive spread that you get to enjoy in the company of family and friends. 

However, this year the scene is a bit different at my place. We are in the process of moving to our new home! What that means is we are dealing with packing, brown boxes and chaos. So keeping that in mind, I kept things simple and opted out of the traditional route of celebration. I thought it would be refreshing to have pretty little vignettes with Ganeshas in different materials as the anchors, scattered all through the home to set the mood for the festivities.  
So first up is the Kondapalli Toy Ganesha. Typically used in Dasara Kolus, I decided to bring him out of storage and join in a little early in the celebration. The Kondapalli toys follow a 400 year old tradition and hail from the "Toy Colony" of Kondapalli in Andra Pradesh. Carved out of locally sourced "softwood" known as Tella Poniki, the pieces are hand painted with vegetable dyes and vibrant enamel colors to breathe life into the creation. The most popular of these toys are the Dasavatarams (ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu). I've paired my Ganesha with soft peach colored roses gently tucked into a Moroccan tea glass and a traditional brass arti diya for a traditional touch.
Next, we have a Ganesha fashioned out of "Resin". A piece that I've had for more than 20 years. Bought at a local arts and crafts fair in Bangalore, the elaborate detailing on it was something that I fell in love with at the first glance. I had originally placed it as a good luck charm in my car (in India). When we moved to the US, he moved with us too:)
These beautiful "Terracotta" Ganeshas are one of my absolute favorites. Love their cutesy aura. The larger one I picked myself from Pottery Town in Bangalore (again ages ago) and the smaller one was one of the items that I looted from my parents place;) With little terracotta diyas acting as urlis, this vignette is all about earthy tones. 
A contemporary "Glass" Ganesha takes center stage in this vignette. I love the opaque quality of this figurine and especially enjoy looking at it when the evening sun casts a warm glow on it. Looks comfortable in the company of my brass inkpot that's multitasking as my vase for this vignette.  
This traditional vignette has a "Brass" Ganesha as its focal point. As its backdrop, a pretty calendar framed makes for some great art. Strings of lotus seed and rudraksha beads together with red roses housed in my brass mortar completes the look.
And finally, a simple vignette that echoes the various greens of nature. An inlaid stone marble table top forms the base for this vignette with the inlay patterns forming an almost rangoli like effect. The Green Aventurine Natural "Stone" Ganesha looks serene in his natural setting with a brass vintage rice measuring cup serving as a vase for some  fresh cut stems from the garden.    

The warmest of wishes to you and your family on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi

Images:Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission.
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.