Friday, January 30, 2015

Cheers to New Avenues !

Hello Folks ! How are we doing today? I know it's the weekend and you are letting go off the reins so as to slow down, unwind and gear up for the next week.......Things have been hectic at my end too! But amidst all the chaos, I've managed to say "YES" to a few of the many creative opportunities that have come my way since I started this blog. TECD has been my mirror of sorts if I may say has made me look at every creative aspect that I've ever wanted to indulge in. Be it interior designing, decor styling, photography or writing. Recently, avenues with respect to product styling have opened up and I couldn't be happier:) 

Here is a sneak peek of my work for a New York based jewelry label that included product styling and photography. Want to see more ? A dedicated feature introducing the brand and its products coming up soon, so stay connected......

If you like what you see and would like to have your products styled and shot by me, please forward your inquiries to 

Product styling and Photography :  Sruthi Singh

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tea and a Synopsis of what's in Store for the month of February

Come afternoon and I need my favorite brew......a steaming cup of chai. The daily grind can get to me at times, however I seek refuge in a simple cup of tea. It has an element of escapism for me. It gives a moment to breathe, relax and recharge. Nowadays, I find myself creating impromptu nooks in places where the golden rays of the sun stream in. A few cushions and a nubby wrap on the floor and I am all set to bask in the warmth of the sun. It almost makes me feel like a star with the sun rays creating a natural spotlight....  
Now for the updates, in February I have a wonderful line up of very exciting and inspiring posts for you'll. The highlights being a brilliant artist feature, spotlight on a New York based jewelry line and a tempting giveaway to celebrate Valentine's Day! Wait I have more! With the overwhelming response that we received for the Subramaniyam's home, I have another fabulous home tour coming your way ! So stay connected.......

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Decorating Creatively

The star of my post today is the modest mortar and pestle or the "Sil Batta" (in Hindi). Wait ! I promise you it is going to be a decor related post. But first, let us revisit how the (now disappearing) sil batta was an indispensable tool in the traditional Indian kitchen. It was predominantly used to prepare fresh spice mixes for cooking. I remember my nani using a sil batta to make masalas for curries. She preferred the sil batta to the electric mixer and grinder as the natural oils and the flavor essences that are contained in the herbs or spices were kept intact. She explained to me that by choosing the convenience of an electric grinder, one was not only compromising on the aroma but also the taste as the herbs and spices tend to get over heated with the grinder blades being operated at high speeds. So no surprises there why nani's food is so sought after and cannot be replicated.

A couple of days ago, a brand new mortar and pestle, replaced my old stainless steel mortar. I did not have the heart to throw the old one away and came up with this idea of using it as a vase! Anyone who has been a reader of TECD long enough knows of my infatuation with flowers and finding unconventional containers as vases to house them. I have two different versions to share with you'll - the first one, an antique brass mortar in a traditional ethnic setting and the second, a stainless steel mortar in a more eclectic-modern  setting.
A bunch of red roses packed tightly into the antique brass mortar look stunning ! To complete this vignette, I've paired a Green Aventurine Natural Stone Ganesha statue with a Ravi Varma's " Yashoda & Krishna" oleograph. A couple of bead malas ( like the rudraksha, lotus seeds and the sandal wood), I picked up from a street vendor in Malleshwaram (Bangalore) add textural charm to the vignette.
For this vignette, I have a cluster of deep maroon colored mums tucked into my stainless steel mortar. Then I went ahead and paired it with my favorite Buddha. When you actually think of it, teal and maroon seems like a dubious combination. But I like the looks of it. What say ? 
No matter which style you choose, the bottom line is, be creative and make the things you've got, work for you !

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Masterful Mixing (Home tour)

Antique Indian décor elements, contemporary furniture and paintings by new-age Indian artists find their collective groove in the Bangalore based residence of Giri and Sangeeta Subramaniyam. Innate passion for their Indian roots integrated with their laid back personal style has translated into a space that is both aesthetically engaging and is a haven for relaxation and comfort. 

Surrounded by lush greenery, the entryway to the home is as impressive as the interiors. The main door is flanked on either side by antique finds that creates an arresting first impression. A distressed window panel draws you in to take a closer look. The weathered texture of the panel creates an almost abstract art in itself. On the opposite side is a Kalakuruchi Ganesha fastened to the wall and bordered on either side with traditional Indian style wooden corbels with brass diyas hanging from them. 
On entering the home you are met with a delightful personal scene. The long hallway is brought to life by a collection of favorite family photographs.The frames though disparate in terms of color and style all come together to make a perfect display of happy memories. 
Sangeeta says that she often finds herself stealing a minute or two every morning to look at these beautiful photographs. The other side of the wall is adorned with an antique ornate mirror that magnifies the effect of the display.
The Subramaniyam's living room is a space used for many different pursuits - it serves as the lounging room, media room and the family room. Their two sons are often caught playing video games or wrestling in this space. Giri points out that no room is off limits to the boys, "We strongly believe that a home should not be treated like a museum. But that being said there is no reason why one should compromise on style."
The Subramaniyams have introduced vibrancy to the neutral backdrop by welcoming pattern and color into their decorating scheme. India Circus cushion covers, patterned rugs and paintings of monks (sourced from a vacation overseas) present an opportunity to introduce offbeat hues in the living room.
Giri does not shy away from the fact that he is house proud. He says that his design aesthetics have been heavily influenced by his dad. Having grown up in a home where traditional Indian design elements had a significant role to play in the decor and architecture of the house, Giri found himself gravitating towards ethnic Indian style for his own home but has intelligently mixed  it in with a touch of the contemporary. 

Just off the living room is the formal dining. A space that is both functional and warm - the perfect place for entertaining. Adorning the windows are custom made natural woven roman shades that have been given an ethnic feel by using borders from Sangeeta's mother-in-law's sarees. I think that's a fresh and original way to use remnants of vintage sarees !
A section of the dining room has been dedicated as the pooja corner. An antique wooden Ūyala (cradle) has been innovatively used as a pooja shelf. 
With the carved spindles of the cradle providing an opportunity to house glass slabs, Sangeeta came up with this brilliant idea to transform the cradle into a wall mounted pooja unit. The family's deities are lovingly placed on the shelves and decorated with fresh flowers everyday.
Making the most of this wall space, a marble top carved pedestal console is married with an ornate metal engraved mirror from Saharanpur to create a one of a kind furniture piece. A serene looking brass Buddha and fresh palms in terracotta pots bring this corner alive.
The kitchen is utilitarian, bright and uncluttered. Giri's perspicacious eye for antique finds and his ability to put a personal spin on things has resulted in this delightful unit that helps define the kitchen area from the dining. He used a 100 year old grain storage unit (a family heirloom piece) together with a shelf that he scored at an antique store and had it restored to create this unit that provides additional storage. 
We are yet again introduced to Giri's unique ability to rummage for pieces that have had a previous life and turn them into functional pieces or architectural elements. Giri decided to frame this niche with 3 different antique wooden panels, making it an eye-catching architectural feature.  
As a tribute to Indian Mythology, an imposing piece of art titled "Krishna" by Avik Chakraborty brings mystical drama and a shot of color to this space. Fitted with a low-lying chest from Sunri, the bar also provides a display surface for a Manjushri weapon from Tibet, an antique wooden corbel now serving as a plant holder and the lucky bamboo bringing in a touch of green to this niche. 
A Realistic Oil on canvas by artist Anand Bedrala  takes center stage in the master bedroom. A calm and quite retreat with neutrals and dark wood tones balancing out this space. Splashes of red is used but in a very restrained way to add interest to the off white tones. The rolling secretary desk is more than a 100 years old and has been with Sangeeta since her college days. Being sentimentally attached to it, Sageeta has it adorning her master bedroom corner. Working her magic again on the roman shades, Sageeta has added zari borders in shades of red to the natural roman shades to tie it in with the rest of the room.  
The guest bedroom is deliberately kept simple with a  Rajashekar Parameshwaram painting  titled "The Real Beauty" as the key anchor. Placed on a console that also serves as the night stand is a Madhubhani painting sourced from a local Arts and crafts sale.  An antique bench with  an inlay of Chettinad tiles graces the guest bedroom and provides a quick seating nook for the guests to put on their socks or glance through a magazine before calling it a day.   
A floor to ceiling study unit in the children's room was put together by re-configuring a number of cabinets and a desk. Now that's one unique piece of furniture that brings a whole load of personality to this space !
Before we conclude this home tour, a few snapshots of the lush green corners of the balconies......

The Subramaniyam's home is a testament to the fact that if you are looking to create a home that is an authentic  representation of your personality and style, then don't be afraid to make unlikely alliances in your displays. As you can see, their home is the result of their creative instincts and outlays in terms of  time, energy and imagination. I'd like to thank this wonderful and gracious family for letting us tour their beautiful home and wish them luck, love and health !

I'm sure this home tour has got your creative adrenaline pumping. So go ahead and decorate with confidence and don't hold back on those unique ideas - they are what make your house a home!  

Photography : Sruthi Singh,  Images belong to Giri and Sangeeta Subramaniyam and  may not be used without prior written permission from the home owners.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Liberate the Saree" with MOGRA (Featured Shop)

MOGRA's new capsule collection “Liberate the Saree”, is artisanal designer, Sheena Roy’s effort to metamorphose the indigenous six yards of fabric into a globally chic, every-day wearable garmentSheena, the creative lead at Mogra believes in changing the people’s perception about traditional Indian regalia like sarees, lungis, dhotis and shawls by giving them a more au courant appearance so as to be a fashion staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Quoting Sheena, "The idea behind the campaign is to introduce saris into global wardrobes and shine light on local crafts. We work with locally sourced handloom and donated sarees to create beautiful dresses that women around the world can identify with." 

The look book for their latest collection beautifully encapsulates the woman that Mogra designs for - a woman who is aware of her cultural identity but also believes in flaunting her individual distinct style. With the free-spirited Karuna Ezara Parikh as the face of Liberate the Saree collection, the locally sourced sarees take on a boho- chic avatar.
Mogra travels to the many far-flung villages in India to source textiles for their creations. Having a strong social conscience, they believe in promoting fair trade practices and fortify local crafts, handlooms and artisan weavers in an effort towards cultural preservation. 
Go ahead and peruse through the exquisite collection right here on their Facebook page. To have orders shipped internationally, contact Mogra via their Etsy shop! 

Mogra also gives you the option to rake through your closet and send them your very own sarees (that have been stored away or you haven’t got around to draping in a long time) to have them transformed into one of Mogra's fusion inspired designs ! What a great concept, I'm off to rummage through my wardrobe............ 

Image copyright/ credit: MOGRA 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Chalk Boutique (Featured Shop)

When two talented individuals fostering the dream of owning a boutique shop, have a serendipitous run into at their children’s pre-school, the new found friendship is bound to have a creative offspring......This week we have the spotlight on Kajal Maheshwari & Kavitha Chowdhri's entrepreneurial venture, The Chalk Boutique(TCB). 
Kajal (left) and Kavitha (right), the dynamic team at The Chalk Boutique 
A lifestyle and home accessories store, TCB is tucked away in a charming bungalow in Whitefield (Bangalore). It took the ambitious duo 8 months of conceptualising and numerous cups of tea to bring TCB to reality. Curious about the name TCB? Kajal answers that for us, “Kavitha and I are fond of doodling and use a black board quite often in our homes. But on a more serious note, we want our store to be ever evolving and felt that a chalkboard signifies the same.
True to its name, the duo have even incorporated the chalkboards as a design element into their store. With Chalkboards and doodles as the backdrop, shelves display an assortment of thoughtfully curated studio pottery, designer candles, baskets, trays, coasters, cushion covers, vintage photo frames, wall art, garden accessories and fashion merchandise such as clothes, jewelery, handbags, organizers, footwear.....The list is long, so take a look!


The team at TCB is aware of the fact that their patrons appreciate established designers yet have an appetite for emerging talent. Kajal emphasises this fact when she says, "Our main objective is to promote upcoming designers and house products which are handmade. Most of the time we travel and handpick our products and at other times, we have our lovely vendors sending us products based on our selection."

Kajal takes pride in their curated collection and squarely points out that "it’s the “individuality” of our items that sets us apart from the mass scale produce available." TCB is refreshingly different in terms of the fact that they showcase products that are unique, handmade, handpicked in a medley of styles, colors, textures and tones yet affordable. 

Kajal also shares with us challenges of being a small business business owner, “The first challenge was envisioning the idea and bringing it onto paper. Raising capital was the next step and the seed capital for our business came in from our savings. Then the initial steps of finding the right business location, the right staff and getting our business registrations in place took a lot of our energies. And of course deciding when to call it a day especially when we are our own bosses, is something that we deal with every day. But it's all so worthwhile when customers walk in and tell us that each nook and corner  of the boutique is a true labor of love”.

And now for some valuable advice from Kajal for those of us who want to take the plunge into following our heart and dreams, “ Do what you love and believe in it! Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It's not only important to create a profitable business, it's also important that you're happy managing and growing it, day in and day out. If your heart isn't in it, you will not be successful.

Thank you Kajal for reaching out to TECD and giving us a tour of your lovely boutique and sharing your entrepreneurial experiences .We wish Kajal and Kavitha luck in their creative endeavor.

Image Copyright/Credit -  The Chalk Boutique. The images may not be reproduced under any circumstances without the prior written approval of the owners.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Aarti Karwayun Chawda (Featured Artist)

Hello and welcome to a very special feature on TECD! Special because the featured artist today happens to be one of my absolute favorite Indian artists whose work is not only distinctly Indian in style but is also exquisite in every sense of the word. In conversation with Ispaceart founder and artist extraordinaire, "Aarti Karwayun Chawda" !!! 
Aarti is a versatile creative personality whose mind strategizes and envisions a myriad compositions, while her heart is the sounding board that she listens to carefully and a steady hand transforms her artistic visions to reality.....
A fine arts graduate from Jaipur with 10 years of experience as a visual merchandiser in fashion retail, Aarti gave up her corporate career and surrendered to the creative streak in  her. With Ispaceart as her launchpad, the versatile artist based out of metropolitan Bangalore, has an impressive portfolio that consists of fine art projects, commercial works in collaboration with interior designers, innumerable commissioned projects and the latest being a magnificent range of home décor wall art. With a mushrooming client base and fan following, Aarti’s creations have taken the art world by storm in a short span of three years.
Using reclaimed windows as a canvas, Aarti creates art that is reminiscent of a by gone era.
TECD : Welcome to TECD Aarti! We are truly delighted to shine the spotlight on an enterprising and multifaceted creative personality such as yourself. You as an artist " Eat, Breathe and Live" the word ART. I would love to hear how do you as an artistic soul, interpret this three letter word? 

Aarti : “Art for me is the most profound tool of expression that comes with infinite freedom and responsibility. It comes from a place deep and it touches people on many levels and creates as many emotions. Art is creation that can evoke responses with enormous possibilities of what and how. I also believe art is an intimate route to one’s uniqueness and to connect with many more who find similar grounds.”
Re:imagining old photographs - A series where Aarti adds her perspective to old pictures  
TECD : You have a very impressive portfolio. One look at it and we can tell that you love to experiment with different mediums. What is the medium most preferred by you?

Aarti : "The fact I have got back to art after my college years, its feels like a completely new beginning and I feel like a child who at this point is still finding, exploring and experimenting with different mediums of expression. I have experimented with acrylic colors, wall paints, ink, pencil and charcoal. But I have to say, I have a soft corner for charcoal as I may have found my comfort with it and I am very happy with what the outcome has been."
 Fearless Charcoal series - the attention to detail is breathtaking

 Aarti's grandfather's vintage photography book from the 1940's is the inspiration for this series of mixed media art.
TECD : Your work reflects the strong ties that you have to your cultural roots - India. Are there other aspects/artists/people who you admire or influence your work ?  

Aarti : "Yes, that’s true. A lot of my commercial and commissioned work revolves around Indian motifs, colors, style and themes. I have spent almost 20 years of my life in Rajasthan. The vibrancy of the land filled with so many inspirations for me as an artist has been deeply rooted in my heart.
Influenced by the Mughals to the Rajputs, the wall art love collection is a must add to your home if your looking for a true desi touch.
However, if you take my fine art work, Women have been a very strong source of inspiration for this series. I love to tell stories centered around women,  and my contribution to the  "Never let go" series is also an extension of this fact. Here is  a video I would like to share.
"Never Let Go" - series in charcoal dedicated to women who swim against all challenges but never let go of the one thing that truly accounts for their identity. 
My inspiration list would be incomplete if I did not mention Frida Kahlo and Olaf Hajek. Frida's vibrant personality and the very unique way of carrying herself has been inspirational to many artists like me. Her life and her work have been extraordinary, she was self taught, which also meant that she was following her deepest calling and love for art. I'm drawn to her portrait work, her use of colors and her work around her own life. As for Olaf Hajek, the German based illustrator,story teller. fascinates me with the way he blends culture, mythology and religion in his work. He creates beautiful textures and his use of bold colors, is way too intriguing."

TECD :Your artworks showcases a lot of intricate details. This kind of artwork is time consuming and needs utmost patience. The inquisitive me wants to know  approximately how long does each of the creative processes take you to churn out the work that you do ? 

Aarti :"My charcoal work of total 12 paintings, including conceptualizing etc had taken me 3 months. Commissioned work has time limitations and so it needs to get over in a months time (If its like a painting project I have done for restaurants.) My other home décor wall art and other series that come under Ispaceart is a one time limited edition collection and the entire process of visualizing and painting,  takes anywhere between 15 to 25 days. "

TECD : Since art has the capacity to touch and influence people on so many levels, what socially relevant issues are you campaigning for and lending your voice to? 

Aarti: "As an artist its important to play that role and I have tried to do my bit through  my contribution to the project, “The Fearless Collective by Shilo Shiv Souleman". It was a call for all artists to come together and unit against sexual violence against women and use their art to encourage women to live fully and freely .
Fearless the poster collective series - a tribute to women for who fearlessness is not a choice, it's a compulsion.

I've also participated in various "Art for social causes"  like the Gulabi Gang Art Project”. An endeavor to share, contribute and lend our voice in support of women's empowerment!" 

TECD : Aarti tell us about your most recent creative ventures that you've thoroughly enjoyed working on. 

Aarti : "I have been fortunate to have been able to experiment with a lot of  different kinds of work. This has enabled me to figure out what I would like to stick to in  the long term. In my fine art work, I've just completed a new series on“Never let go”. 
With respect to commercial  and commission work,  I was involved in the interiors of the Black Rabbit”(newly opened restaurant in Bangalore) where I was commissioned to  paint bells that form a fascinating focal point of the interiors of this restaurant.  And in my home décor series for “Ispaceart”, I have recently put together a collection of work for Jaypore, which is now online."
The sight of 16 over sized bells is grand enough but the fact that Aarti was commissioned to hand paint each one of these bells to replicate motifs borrowed from Indian miniature paintings is mind-blowing.  
TECD : What has been the most challenging experience for you as an artist?

Aarti : "In this yet very small journey as an artist, I have liked to explore as much as I can and therefore do various kinds of work to challenge myself and stretch my own boundaries. While this happens at one side, on the other side I am continuously searching for my uniqueness to develop/create a path of my own. My difficulties are with time - limitations on the number of hours each day means that I don't get to practice, sketch and exercise my skills as much as I'd like to. I would also like to devote a certain amount of time everyday to observe and study the things around which is very important for an artist’s growth. Something that I am chasing as of now."
TECD : What are your future plans to take Ispaceart to the next level ?

Aarti : "I do hope ispaceart can be available at more locations. Right now it retails via “The Purple Turtles" store in Bangalore and at " Dhoop" in Mumbai. Online you could find us at Ispaceart and Jaypore

I am  also focusing on expanding my work in the fine art segment."
TECD : Not many people get to live their dream like you. What advice would you give the folks out there to answer their creative calling?

Aarti  :"The wish always is that we all can live our dreams.  Firstly, its to find that streak of uniqueness and then be able to risk things and take the plunge. We are all gifted and talented.  Not everyone needs to be an artist but its important  to be connected to ourselves and therefore know what path to choose. Inspiration surrounds us and we should be open to receive it, transform it and then believe in it. I have learnt and come to believe that to truly know what our calling is to shut our mind and open our heart and we shall hear, see and know what is for us."

As said by Mark Twain- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
The lovely Aarti doing what she does best with her magic wand....
And that was the lovely and uber talented  - Aarti Karwayun Chawda.  Every single time that I was working on putting this post together and I reviewed her portfolio, I  had the urge to pack all my stuff and move to a new place in the greed for more wall space to own and display Aarti's art. If you are as smitten as I am by Aarti's work and want to make one of her creations a part of your home, this where you need to head.

Image Copyright/Credit -  Aarti Karwayun Chawda. The images may not be reproduced under any circumstances without the prior written approval of the artist.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Feel Good !!!!

It feels good be back after the digital detox and I hope the holidays was just as relaxing for you too. I haven't made any specific resolution except for the fact that I wish to tackle 2015 with the curiosity of a 2 year old, the energy of a 20 year old and the maturity of a 70 year old. Being aware of the fact that this year brings with it 365 + possibilities to make it productive and creative is fascinating to me !!!
And taking the creative aspect seriously, I had to start with the blog. As you can see, there have been a few changes at TECD. We have a new logo and banner on our FB page, a new tag line and banner for the blog and a few updates to my About and Features and Mentions pages. 
And now for a few updates.....January is going to be a busy month at TECD. I have a string of wonderful and inspiring posts I'd like to share with you'll. Highlights being a tête-à-tête with one of my favorite artists and a Home Tour in true TECD style. So giddy up and stay connected......... 

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