Thursday, May 19, 2016

Celebrating Print, Pattern and Color with Fab India

Fab India needs no introduction. It is one of my favorite stops when it comes to soft furnishings and Indian wear. Today the spotlight is on their Spring and Summer home collection 2016. It appealed to me on every level - be it color, pattern, texture or the product styling, it is spot on.  Here are some exclusive shots to make your heart flutter and add some color to an other wise mundane Thursday:) 

The floral motifs in bright hues truly mimic the happy season, Spring!

Finally leaving you with this gorgeous soiree setting.....Sigh! How I wish I could just sit awhile and stare at nothing.....but alas, it is just Thursday, so let's get rolling!

(Image Courtesy : Fab India)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Living with what you Love (Home Tour)

Tucked away from the cacophonous buzz of metropolitan Bengaluru, the eclectically charming home of Kanthi Prasad is truly a manifestation of the expression "a home should be soulful, seductive and serene". The more than 20 year old, three bedroom apartment is infused with nostalgic heirlooms, covetable travel treasures and one-of-a-kind art and other unique bits and bobs steeped in interesting stories. Though the overall palette is defined by calming neutrals, the place is brightened up with pops of color through textiles, paint and fascinating décor accessories. 
The entryway to the home is a reflection of what's in store for you. The console you see in the entryway has undergone a transformation at the hands of Kanthi's skillful eye for design and detail. The original piece, an antique teak-wood chest of drawers with a mirror was converted into the console and a diwan that sits pretty in the living room. A lot of Kanthi's pieces are repurposed from the family's ancestral home in Mysuru. Kanthi shares, "Our ancestral house in Mysuru had so much character, with wonderful artifacts, curios and furnishings filled with history. There was a part of me that wanted to carry that legacy and hence the repurposing was adopted." 
That readers for you is the lovely Kanthi Prasad! As you can tell by now, she loves everything relating to home, decor and design. A retired kindergarten teacher by profession, she fondly reminisces about her time that she used to enjoy crafting and art sessions with the school kids. Decorating and home-organization have always been a hobby of hers. Though not trained in the design field, she is a natural when it comes to identifying, grouping and styling, be it for the home or herself.
Here is the diwan that I was talking about! Shades of rust, rev up this space beautifully and provide a visual contrast to the canary yellow on the walls. The Buddha wall decor and Buddha hand mudra were picked up by Kanthi while on a trip to Singapore with her family
As we make our way to the living room, we are welcomed into a warm, elegant and relaxed space that is brimming with strategic play of tactile layers, color, patterns and functionality. Throwing more light on her decorating style, Kanthi says, "I don’t think a lot about fitting my style into a particular genre of decorating. When I see a piece, I just know if I like it or not. If I can envision it having a space/a home and it is within my means, I will embrace it. I typically like ethnic Indian with a balance of modern elements. Repurposing rustic artifacts and items is something I love to do and you will see plenty of that around my home."
There is so much to take in.....I'm instantly drawn to the coffee table that is filled with lovely silverware that shimmers in the soft flickering light thrown from the lit candles. Before she relocated from Delhi, she made sure she picked up an assortment of these pieces as mementos from the many silver shops in Greater Kailash.
Another example of repurposing old items is the wooden bowl (also from the family's ancestral home in Mysuru). Originally used in it's hay days to mix the rice dish, "pulliogre", it now serves as a unique plant stand!’
I bet your heart skipped a beat ! Mine did too! The eye catching display of brass with intricately carved wooden pieces is a nod to the home owner's south Indian roots. The assortment of brass collectibles you see has been collected over a period of over 40 years! "I collect them slowly (but they suddenly reduce in number when my daughters make a visit- they love taking away my goodies." (I can relate to that as that's exactly what I do when I visit my parents;)
Decorating was never a challenge for the design savy Kanthi, "I honestly don't see this process as a challenge at all. It is what I thrive on. It has always been an organic process for me, keeping in mind practicality and affordability. I used a lot of my stuff that I had in Delhi, and over the years have collected and added to the decor, through my travels. I can't do anything in haste or under pressure. I take my time and believe it is an ever-evolving process."
It's wonderful to see the ambiance that one can create when you mix finds from different eras and places. 
Kanthi shows me one of her favorite pieces, the kajal holder. (I'm also eyeing that silver kangan and that very lovely Ikat silk saree that she carries so effortlessly! 
The niche is anchored by a set of wooden pillars that Kanthi got custom made. The niche is painted the same color as the opposite wall to tie it all together. Taking the center stage is the heirloom Tanjore painting(again salvaged from their ancestral home) that Kanthi got restored by a curator from Delhi National Museum.
A closer look at the other details adorning this beautiful niche !
The french doors from the living room lead to the balcony. Once the doors are thrown open, the living space is extended and it feels like one large space with a green view. This is Kanthi's favorite spot to read or just enjoy the evening breeze.
Talking about influences on her design and style, Kanthi says, " I am not sure how I developed my style initially. I love to read décor magazine and my daughters and I bounce off ideas and influence one another. I do remember when my husband and I just started a family in Delhi, I would collect money from selling newspaper to the Kabaadiwaala and actually use that towards something for the house. So I think I always paid attention to the character of the home, and gave that importance. I studied home-science in school, so my organization skills and house-keeping probably comes from there. Travelling the world and living in 7 cities has given me the exposure and helped hone my taste. "
The dining room is just off the living. A Kerala wall mural by B. Murali immediately catches the eye with its flaming colors. Family photographs and other travel knick-knacks have an inimitable way of adding nostalgic warmth to this space. 
Tucked to a corner, this antique writing desk from Delhi makes for the perfect spot to catch up on mails and pay the bills. Adorning the wall above the desk is a collage of masks and puppets that have been collected over the course of Kanthi's travels to the Middle East and South East Asia.
Just off the lounging area is another balcony that has been touched by Kanthi's magic wand! As you can see, the outdoors spaces too reflects the same amount of thoughtfulness that has gone into creating the indoor space. This is where Kanthi unwinds everyday with her cup of coffee. Potted plants, terracotta bells and Bastar art elevate the style quotient of this space.
This lovely plant pot that you see here is another heirloom piece. It was originally used to feed fodder to the cattle! 

Quoting Kanthi on what a HOME means to her, "Home is my safe haven. It is a reflection of myself. And when it is well organised and pretty, it gives me utmost satisfaction." Kanthi we can truly see the love that has gone into the making of this home ! 
This is Kanthi's daughter, Shalini's room. Remember Shalini Prasad ? I know you do. We have featured her home and her work here on TECD! I am so glad she introduced me to her mom and I had the opportunity to connect with her on this visit to Bengaluru. Done up in a black, white and red theme this room is serene in every way. All the art in the room is done by Shalini!
Every corner is just so well put together! 
This is what Shalini had to say about her mom's style of decorating, "For my sister, Yamini and me, Amma has, is and will always be the embodiment of style, strength and grace. We can’t be more proud of her. From the way she carries herself to the way she keeps her environment, every aspect has a touch of class, character and taste. We have learnt, immolated and developed our own sensibilities and styles from her. I personally may have studied design, and architecture, but I am always struck by how intrinsically and instinctual her understanding of the balance of space, line, texture and object is! What one has to go to school for, comes just so effortlessly to her. She takes it for granted and I have to keep reminding her that she has an innate talent! We have grown up in order and beauty, and we have only Amma to thank for it. She always says that there should be a place for everything in the house (or else get rid of it)-- an organized home is an organized mind-- and I swear by that principle. The biggest lesson I learnt from her about creativity in home decor is finding beauty within your budget; to look beyond the tried and tested; and remind yourself that it is ever evolving. She is crafty, handy, practical with good taste and a keen eye— and those are a great combination of tools to have when styling the home."
Here is what Kanthi had to share on her favorite decor stores, "My daughters (whom I am proud to say have lovely homes themselves) have a good eye for things. Through them I got to see and got to love West Elm, World Market, Crate and Barrel to name a few. But more than the brand name stores, the three of us are fans of visiting old towns, flea markets, antique and vintage stores in the US and the hole-in- the-wall shops in the little alleys of Bengaluru and Delhi. I believe that
if you have an eye, you can spot beauty anywhere. I just enjoy browsing around these eclectic unnamed shops and like to be surprised by the things I can find. "

Love the mini gallery wall Kanthi has created in this bedroom. "I fancied the idea of mounting this brass ‘Trishool’ and spear like spoon, on the wall, instead of placing them in my puja room, so I attached wire on them to hook them up. I picked up the ‘Kamandal’ from a trip to Banaras."
And finally a look at Kanthi's private sanctuary. Royal blue and deep reds set the tone for the space. Another Kerala wall mural above the bed and a grouping of mini marble paintings from Rajasthan continue the eclectic theme that is seen in the rest of the home.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet this lovely lady and am so glad I got to spend some quality time with her. Thank you Kanthi for your hospitality and I want you to know how much I appreciate you inviting me to your beautiful home. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and delicious food (I'm a huge fan of your paniyarams-yum!) It would be so amiss, if I did not thank Shalini for making this happen!
I'm sure you'll enjoyed this home tour as much as I had fun putting this together for you'll. Happy decorating folks !

(Photography : Sruthi Singh. Please do not use the images for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the prior written permission of the home owner and TECD)  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Put your best foot forward with "Pastels & Pop"! (Featured Shop)

New Style Alert People! The Bengaluru based, "Pastels and Pop"(P&P) is the new rage in designer handcrafted juttis. The Chhabra sisters have successfully given the old-style Punjabi juttis, a new modern avatar. The modern juttis not only complement traditional Indian attire, but also western outfits. In an array of stunning designs and colors, the footware has options for every occasion - be it the everyday casual look or the occasional dress up. We sat down with Akanksha Chhabra (one of the two co-founders of P&P) to discuss about their brand and inspirational entrepreneurial journey so far. 
TECD: Hello and welcome to TECD Akanksha! Delighted to have the opportunity to connect with you. Let’s start by asking you, the thought behind the name “Pastels and Pop”?

Akanksha : “Thank you Sruthi for showcasing Pastels and Pop on TECD. 

Our products speak the language of color. While we make Juttis in POP colors like a bright pink or a lush red, we also play around with earthy/pastel colors like lemon yellow, pista green and soft peaches. Pastels represent the essence of traditional handcrafted Juttis, and, by having added a pop factor to them, we are redesigning Juttis for the modern woman. So the name is an attempt to express these amalgams.”
TECD :Tell us more about the duo that is the heart and soul of Pastels and Pop? 

Akanksha: “We are two sisters, Akanksha Chhabra and Aarti Chhabra, who are the co founders of Pastels & Pop. I, Akanksha, am an ex-software professional with a Bachelors’ Degree in Engineering. But my lifelong passion of designing lured me into this industry. I have always had this dream of starting my own enterprise, and now my dream has come true.

My younger sister Aarti, pursuing Bachelors in Business Management, is in her final year. Creativity runs through her blood and finds its way into her hands, which is why she’s amazing at sketching and art. Our mutual interest in clothing and accessories led us on the path to Pastels & Pop.”
TECD: Let's rewind to the time that Pastels and Pop came into being? 

Akanksha : “My sister and I have a never ending love affair with the Indian Jutti. Our initial years were spent in the heart of Punjab, and we always adored the Juttis our mother used to buy.

In December 2014, my sister Neha, was about to get married. It was the first wedding in our family, so we were naturally very excited about the preparations. As everyone knows, the Big Indian Wedding is all about grandeur with the clothes being a huge part of that. Naturally inclined towards designing and dressmaking right from childhood, the three of us then created and designed all our outfits from scratch, and brought our sister’s dream wedding outfit to life.

When we received innumerable compliments throughout the wedding for our clothes and shoes, that’s when it hit us! First, we absolutely loved the designing process, and, second, there’s a huge, vacant market in Bangalore and other South Indian cities for quality designer ethnic wear which is also affordable. We went about doing our research and in July 2015, Pastels & Pop debuted with its first ever Jutti collection!”
TECD: What according to you is the USP of Pastels and Pop? 

Akanksha: “Our major USP is that our collection is, and always will be, versatile! We cater to the palettes of ladies of a wide age group; some of our Juttis provoke elegance, while some can get downright funky, so that you can have a pair of P&P Juttis for any occasion!

Apart from that, we also like to believe that we are one of those companies who actually believe that customer is king. We take customer reviews very seriously, and ensure to always maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.”
TECD: How would you describe your ideal Pastels and Pop woman ?

Akanksha: “The ideal Pastels & Pop woman is any woman. We like to believe that each and every woman is born beautiful. Every lady is a Cinderella, looking for her pair of glass slippers. There doesn't always have to be a Prince Charming for you to feel special; we at P&P would love to make your fairytale come true!”
TECD: Tell us more about your creative process in bringing a pair of juttis into existence?

Akanksha: “At Pastels & Pop, special care is taken to make sure that the finest detail of each Jutti is perfect.
The designs that we introduce are not accidental or arbitrary. A lot of thought goes into the type of prints and elements that we choose, embroidery techniques we employ, and the base colors that we use, so that they intersect with the taste of the modern woman.”
TECD: Your most memorable experience w.r.t. Pastels and Pop?

Akanksha : “Our first order, a Bride ordered our juttis for her wedding functions and after the wedding she left us a beautiful email in which she told us about how much she loved wearing our juttis and how comfortable they were! Not to mention the number of compliments she got! It always feels amazing when clients take time to click pictures in our juttis and send them to us with lots of love and appreciation. And the biggest compliment for us is, when they order with us again :)”
TECD: What has been your success mantra as small business owner? 

Akanksha: “Just believe in yourself and your idea. Pay attention to detail. Customer service is the biggest aspect for any company, so make sure you keep your customer's happy by providing them with the best product and best support.”
TECD: What’s next on the cards for Pastels and Pop?

Akanksha: “We have received love and appreciation from not only our India based clientele but also international clients. While we have handled individual international orders offline until now, we plan to go international very soon, by expanding our reach into the world market, ensuring that all our customers around the world have a hassle free buying experience.”
When it comes to footware haven, Pastels & Pop it is as you don't have to choose between style or comfort! The floral and printed ones pair well with jeans, shorts and dresses. While the embellished ones go beautifully with salwars, chudidars, sarees and lehengas. To stay abreast of their latest summer collection SS16 that launches this June, connect with P&P via their FB page and Instagram. This collection is going to showcase juttis that are perfect for a bright summer. Be it a day at the office, a day out with friends, or even a wedding! The summer collection has pairs that range from monochrome, floral to embellished beauties in an array of colors. To get yours today, click here. They are also available online at Ikkivi, Pernia's Pop up Shop and The Wedding Brigade.

Thank you Akansha for taking the time to connect with us! We wish you and Aarti all the very best in your entrepreneurial journey!