Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Indisputably Indian in Style (Home Tour)

Our last feature here on Prakalyam Gallery was so well received, I couldn't wait to bring you more from Veshali's wonderful portfolio. A 1,184 sq. ft. apartment in Singapore, belonging to a lovely young couple, Chandrasekar Ganapathy Subramanian and Indhu Chandrasekar gets transformed at the hands of Veshali Visvanaath and receives the all Indian touch. Chandru is not only a cricket/sports buff but also has a discerning eye for antiques and Tanjore paintings. It is this love for the old world charm that drew him and his beautiful and talented Bharathnatyam dancer wife Indu to Veshali's Prakalyam Gallery. Within minutes of being introduced  to each other they hit it off and it lead to the renovation and design of a beautiful home that is indisputably Indian in appeal. 
The couple were very explicit about what they wanted to include in their design plan. The deliverables included - smart space planning,  practical approach to design expression,  personal style married to their Indian roots. Chandru being an ardent cricket fan wanted the decor to include his bats and other sports memorabilia. His love for vintage and the old world charm too had to be incorporated. Indhu on the other hand wanted color to be a huge part of their interiors. Not the easiest directives for any interior designer but Veshali being adept at making all of her client requests come true, made it all come together seamlessly. It took Veshali 5 months from conception to delivery. The on site renovation was done in 2 months but the prior planning took a huge chunk of the time (3 months) as Chandru was very detail specific and did not want any surprises or deviations during the course of the renovation.
The living room is an interesting space with a range of contrasting materials bringing in tactile and visual balance. Done up in shades of vermilion and gold together with attentively selected furniture pieces and decor accessories, the home is cozy with a strong interplay of refinement and traditional elegance.The dark wood tones of the furniture complement the well chosen colors beautifully. As for the seating options, they have a carved day bed that was commissioned from India by the clients. The design process however of the commissioned pieces was overseen by Veshali from Singalpore. In addition to the day bed, they have lots of low seating. The floor style seating was specifically requested by the homeowners for many a reason. Sitting on the floor gives a homely, intimate and nostalgic feel and syncs well with the ambiance of the house. Yoga too recommends sitting on the floor in padmasana thus maintaining a good posture and healthy lifestyle.
The TV console was made in Singapore by Veshali's team of carpenters. Treasured collections of the couple flank the TV on either side. On the left is a wooden plank with a silver scroll. Veshali tells me that this was presented during the 1952 England cricket tour of India at Kanpur. The scroll has a velvet cloth inside it with the scorecard for the day. On the other side is a ‘Vibuthi’ box (scared ash) in form of a Nandi. This was sourced from North Karnataka and is one of the many favorite pieces from Chandru's passion to collect antiques and vintage treasures. Next to it is a wooden panel from a temple car in south-India. The car is used to take religious processions on the streets. The vintage coffee table is a cradle that the couple acquired from India. Another piece of low seating is the swing plank that they decided to just rest on the floor to make the space look bigger rather than hanging it up and visually dividing the room.  
Veshali talks more about the color choices made for this project, "Talking about the colors, this was the most challenging part about the project. Chandru wanted a classic look with creams but Indhu wanted to go bold with colors. She even wanted color on the ceiling! Chandru compromised on the color part and promised not to interfere as long as he got more cricket bats up on the wall! We managed to incorporate a different color in each room. A new experience for me as well but I love the way it turned out."
The photo gallery wall happens to be one of the first things that the couple had discussed with Veshali while expressing their requirements in the project. The wall has frames set genealogically, thus creating a family tree. The photos (and a painting) are all originals from both sides of the family, capturing the family history for nearly 200 years (Pre-World War 1 to Present Day). Here's what Chandru had to share about this aspect of the project, "A history buff, I believe in capturing family history and passing it over to the next generation. This is the ‘true’ inheritance we can leave for our kids." Veshali seconds that saying,"This was the main reason I took up the project as the nostalgia was too strong and I wanted to be a part in this journey." Absolutely love how Veshali has chosen the mint green wall to showcase the photographs. A subtle shade that's effective in enhancing the vintage feel of the space! (On a personal note, I can so relate to this color as the walls in my  grandmother's old home too were of the same shade.)
The couple have an enviable collection of statues. Seen on the left is the Tripuranthakar (form of Siva which created the state of Tripura) and on the right is Ardhanareshwarar (Siva and Parvathi in same idol) sourced from Praklayam gallery. I believe both these are made from true Tanjore Chola style.
Apart form the photo-wall, another focal point is the Tanjore art wall.  The theme for this wall was to have the couple's collection of Tanjore paintings with unique subjects displayed in one place to create an impactful exhibit. Some of them are inherited  by the couple while the rest have been acquired for them by the gallery. Indhu being a bharatnatyam dancer, wanted to have a special spot for Nataraja. Veshali  found a place of prominence for him by placing him right under the paintings. ON close observation, you will see that Paai or chattais (natural fiber woven mats) have been used here and below the coffee table as these are from Tamil Nadu and Veshali wanted to create the feeling of "close to home".
The formal dining table is clearly the most striking attribute of this space!!! The inlay dining table is made out of rosewood and was specifically commissioned by the client. The details of the inlay work talks of the grand Dussehra procession in Mysore. The presence of ‘Gandaberunda’ (symbol of Karnataka and Mysore) is prominent here. The chairs all have a king riding with two attendants on an elephant. There's an abundance of floral designs across the chair, with the foot supported by a playful elephant inlay on the sides.
Custom made handsome cabinetry spans the wall across the dining table making display and storage possible in one simple unit. The vintage pieces exhibited in the unit were especially sourced for the client from Prakalyam Gallery.

And finally we get to see Chandru's priced possession, his cricket bats framed and proudly displayed on the wall!

The Pooja room as you can tell has the divine vibes. This particular room took the longest to execute. Chandru and Indu had a lot of religious pictures and wanted a dedicated room for worship. Veshali wanted to create something different but wanted to keep the traditional feel of the space intact. The gallery wall gives the couple the option to expand their collection as and when they acquire a new piece.
Veshali decided to bring in the Kerala Kasavu saree for the sheers and used Indu's cotton sarees for the blinds. The golden sari border compliments the gold foil finish on the wall. The blinds are easy maintenance and the fabric choice adds the soft touch.
The stunning brass Elephant lamp  had been in the family for years. Indhu being the 6th generation DIL in the family, inherited this beautiful treasure from her mom-in-law! Indhu makes sure that this diya is lit on all special occasions.
Here's what Veshali had to say summing up her deep contentment on working with this wonderful couple, "It was an awesome experience doing up the house . What makes me happy is that they message me and invite me for every family gathering and have given me the space of a family member. Design and details apart , I got new friends and family in this journey."

Thank you Veshali for sharing another gem from your portfolio. It's been such a pleasure interacting with you. Wishing you the very best in your creative venture. Should you have other projects too to share, you know we are all eyes and ears:)


(My Singapore readers, should you wish to visit Prakalyam, please make sure to book your appointment right here or call (+65) 9008 3979. And for those of you not in Singapore, Veshali is willing give online consulting a shot. Do write to Veshali at veshali@prakalyamgallery.com with your design dilemmas.)

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: Veshali Visvanaath for Prakalyam Gallery; : The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of Veshali Visvanaath & TECD.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Distinguished Taste (Home Tour)

Prakalyam Gallery, the Singapore based antiques and furniture store is truly your gateway to the past. Prakalyam translating to mean "ancient times" in Hindi and "beautiful things" in Sanskrit has a concentrated collection of the most unique pieces of furniture and artifacts sourced from all over India. Veshali Visvanaath, founder and curator of Prakalyam, strongly believes in maintaining the old world charm of her curated pieces with minimum restoration. A spontaneous decision led Veshali to embark on this fascinating journey. With no formal education in either architecture or interior design, little did she know that her innate talent would lead to the opening of her own antique store and interior design business. It all started when she decided to renovate her own home and ordered a huge consignment of decor and furniture pieces to decorate her home. The surplus of exquisite furniture pieces from her home renovation project steered Veshali in the direction of Prakalyam as well as her interior design firm, "After the gallery started in 2013 , people loved the aesthetic approach and requested me to help do their space when they came looking for furniture. It all started that way and today I am happy to be have been a part of many such dream homes."
Sharing one such turnkey project from Veshali's portfolio is the stunning Singapore home of Reena and Rahul Ahuja (a lovely young couple with a great taste of fine things). The project involved a complete tear down and build up of this 2200 sqft apartment and interior designing. It took Veshali more than 9 months from the first drawing to delivering it. 

A traditional south Indian style swing (popularly known as the oonjal) anchors the transition space from the living to the dining. Reena and Rahul had snagged this a couple of years ago from Prakalyam. It now fits in like a glove into the design plan thus injecting old world charm. The swing is suspended by antique chains that are now a rarity. A combination of cushions in solid hues give the rosewood and satinwood plank of the swing a soft edge. As a perfect backdrop to the whole setting, a reproduction of the legendary painting "Lady with the Swan" by Raja Ravi Varma takes center stage (Another master piece from Prakalyam).
The thoughtfulness to balance and symmetry gives this living room its refined charm. Lots of seating options, unexpected pops of color to break the monotony and selective decor accessories dictates the sophisticated design approach.

The colossal Dashavtaram painting behind the couch was sourced from Prakalyam. Done in the ubbal (3D) style of Tanjore, this is a new piece that has been given a vintage finish. Paintings of this scale take almost 9 months from start to finish. I personally think it is the art in this design plan that gives the room its Indian-ness.
Among the few previous possessions to pass muster in the new design plan is the client's silverware collection. Veshali has effortlessly made it a part of the coffee table display, coaxing any new guest to start a conversation around it. 

A tailored mix of patterned and solid fabrics were chosen to reupholster the clients existing couches and arm chairs.Throw pillows in shades of flattering pink tones and mango yellow bring warmth and zest to the interior landscape.
A vintage Malabar massage table is converted into a coffee table. The details on the leg, like the inverted pillar capital make it unique thus adding to the design element. Woven cane plantation style chairs were sourced from a store in Singapore. Veshali stresses on the fact that at no point are her clients compelled to own pieces from her gallery. She includes them only if the design calls for her curated pieces from her very own gallery if not more often than not, pieces are sourced from other brands and stores to suit the personality and needs of her clients.
The most challenging aspect of this project was sticking to the timeline and meeting the clients' specification of not wanting the  house to look overly Indian. Veshali decided to mix in some contemporary pieces of art and clean line furniture to bring the contemporary vibes to the space. She says, "I personally felt that the dining wall could break the monotony and hence we went with installing the original pieces of the renowned artist 'Sohan Qadri'. I absolutely love the play of colors and the tantric effects which he is so well known for. Both are his pieces and I helped them source these."
At the far end is another beautiful almost antique Tanjore that of Maratha King Shivaji and his minister. The details on the painting is mind blowing and Veshali confirms that it is close to 90 years old!
As you can tell by now, Veshali earnestly enjoys being the interpreter of her client's vision. In her own words, "I love the 'sharing of stories' and dreams of my clients while doing up their homes. The excitement and sparkle in their eyes when the design detail is exactly what they had in mind is overwhelming. Creating a space which is loved by the homeowners and for them to remember me everyday with a smile is truly what I work towards."

My Singapore readers, should you wish to visit Prakalyam, please make sure to book your appointment right here or call (+65) 9008 3979. And for those of you not in Singapore, Veshali is willing give online consulting a shot. Do write to Veshali at veshali@prakalyamgallery.com with your design dilemmas. 

Veshali thank you so much for choosing TECD to be your debut platform to share your amazing portfolio. We wish you the very best in your creative endeavor! Before I sign off, I'd like to share with my readers that Veshali and I will be collaborating soon to share another gem from her portfolio, so  make sure you stay connected.

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: Veshali Visvanaath for Prakalyam Gallery; : The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of Veshali Visvanaath & TECD.)

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Drishti Collection from Mayil

Remember the ritual when mom used to rub her little finger against her kohl lined eyes and transfer a smudge of that to our cheek as drishti pottu or kala tika? Well, that happens to me to this very day, when I have mom around. I personally find the act very endearing and feel like I'm five again. So when I found out about the new collection "Drishti" from Mayil, it struck a nostalgic chord. I have blogged about Mayil earlier and have even featured snippets of Madavi Oliver's (the heart and soul of Mayil) home. Go ahead and give it a read if you haven't already
Today, however the focus in on their new collection Drishti. What I absolutely loved about the collection was the way in which Madavi had reinterpreted these traditional rituals and beliefs to cater to today's modern woman. You probably already know that, this belief of evil eye is not only evident in Indian culture but is also prominent in various cultures across the world. There are various remedies to nullify the effects of evil eye - the Hamsa that is popular in the Middle East and North Africa, Talisman and amulets in Islamic sects and then our very own lemon and chilli strung together used in North India or the colorful demon masks guarding the outside of the house in the south. 

Here's what Madavi had to say about how the collection came together and how it works, "I was inspired by memories of drishti pottus, drishti bommais and other rituals found in South Indian culture to design Mayil's drishti necklaces. An odd (albeit beautiful) bead for an asymmetry to deflect any drishti coming your way. While a black bead seems to fit in perfectly, I have also used copper, silver and coral beads as a variation in these necklaces to create a visually pleasing asymmetry as well."

These handmade neckpieces come in an array of colors and are a marriage of colored gemstones and silver pendants. My favorites from the collection being the Om necklace, the Celtic style mandala and ofcourse the the Ganesha neckpiece. Grab yours today to give your outfit a touch of the boho while it also works to deflect any negative energy coming your way. These are also a very thoughtful gifting option. Madavi also takes custom orders so reach out to her at mayil@mayilscarves.com. To check out the entire Drishti collection click here. TECD readers get a special discount with the use of code MAYIL10 (a $10 discount) off all your purchases. Offer valid until the end of May 2018.

While you are virtually visiting the Mayil online boutique may I also suggest that you check out their range of colorful scarves and hand selected range of decor accessories

(Images are the property of Mayil/Madavi Oliver and may not be used without prior written permission.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adept at Layering of Cultures (Home Tour)

An elegantly edited Gurgaon home is a visual reminder of the homeowners' intrinsic love for diverse cultures and a life well lived. The Bondals have had the pleasure to travel and experience life in different countries as Jaishankar Bondal served as an Indian diplomat for 34 years. They've had the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy the sprawling homes that were bestowed upon them while in service but decided to downsize when retirement came knocking. Gleefully accepting a slower pace of life, Jaishankar and Nirmala (a professional singer and artist) moved to Gurgaon for apartment style living. More from Nirmala on transitioning from palatial bungalows to their current maintenance friendly and cozy home, "We came to live in our apartment, since July 2008, after my husband retired from Mauritius, as "The Indian High Commissioner". We owned this apartment a few years before coming to live here, so we were preparing in the last few years of my husband's career , to shrink from the big and beautiful houses, while my husband headed the missions in Canada, Tajikistan and Mauritius. Well, in all the years with our govt., serving as the proud representatives of our country, we both were very particular to showcase the best we have culturally. However with no preconceived strong likes and dislikes, we adapted very well to people, places and ideas. Always happy to imbibe all that was offered to us in a place that was home away from home.

With Chinese language and politics as Jaishankar's expertise, we naturally stayed the most in China with 7 years in Beijing and (3 more if you count Hong Kong).This rich culture with amazing artifacts was a big temptation to behold. We however never spent on very expensive objects,but had a keen eye for things which we would always enjoy. We always focused on getting light furniture with which we could play around and made it easy for the many moves. 
The entrance to the home is decked in aesthetic charm leading you to believe that the rest of the home is no different. A Shiv Parvati statue in the tribhanga posture (possibly modeled on the life sized originals in the caves at Kanheri, Mumbai) takes centerstage. Around the base, a grouping of traditional brass lamps from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and a "tree" lamp from Goa take the vingette to a whole new level. Placed above the pillar is a four headed Ganapati, the heads representing the four Vedas.
The instrument on the small accent table is from Tajikistan, in Central Asia. It traces its ancestry from Persia, now Iran. It is called dutar, a two string folk instrument and a precursor of Sarangi and the Sitar. By its side is a scale model of a medieval Japanese carriage (pulled by oxen rather than horses). Made of lacquer,it can be easily dissembled. Behind it is a miniature Japanese screen,painted in gold leaf traditional designs.
The bigger wooden chest was sold to Nirmala as a "cooling box". It serves perfectly to store all of Nirmala's table linen and useful dining paraphernalia. Nirmala reminiscenes saying that, "Exploring Chinese markets and unorganized, yet bustling bazaars, was a tremendous pleasure, as one unexpectedly came across mysterious and beautiful articles.Today,the Chinese landscape has become modern,but predictably dull!"
Lighting up this corner is a traditional bronze lamp with Chinese characters on the lampshade. This corner is also smattered with a collection of bronze objects - a Korean bell, the famous flying horse from the " Tang Dynasty" period, a "Chinte" lion from Burma[Myanmar] and the "Ding" a Chinese sacrificial vessel or urn on a tripod.
A contemporary looking display shelf from Sweden houses all of Nirmala's crystal glassware. The design lends presence without cluttering the space. To contrast the crystal ware, Nirmala has placed the miniature blue porcelain horses, made at a well known historical china ware factory with the "Jin De Zheng" designs. A pair of wooden monk statues originating from Burma reinforce the layering of cultures theme in the home. As a foil to all these is an elaborately constructed ,vividly colored Kathakali head from Kerala.
At the far end of the living room, what was once a good sized balcony is now enclosed and poses as an extension of the living room. This is where the couple enjoy their morning cup of tea in the company of plants. Nirmala has creatively used 2 vintage copper vessels - the big one as a centre table and the smaller one as a lamp. A Chinese cane basket holds reading material while a pretty patterned rug adds warmth to the floor.
A majestic China cabinet serves its purpose by holding Nirmala's collection of crockery. A copper Samovar (meant to keep tea hot) sits pretty on top of the cabinet along with a model of a war ship from Mauritius. The simple elegance of Vintage Ming Imperial-Style Chinese Chairs definitely adds the right amount of global edge to the living room. It is believed that these chairs are designed to provide relief and comfort to aching joints. The delicate collection of vases sporting the lotus design are antiques and sit pretty on the carved scroll table (the idea of  a scroll table being written scrolls used to be spread on top of such tables and used at the religious altar).
A beautiful cloisonne lamp (with busy patterns in enamel) lights up this corner, while a pair of Indonesian puppets engages the onlooker for some visual drama. Nirmala shares more about her decorating scheme, "With Delhi/ Gurgaon having hot summers and dusty winds, we do not indulge in heavy upholstery. We also enjoy playing around with our pieces, which refreshes us and breaks the monotony."   
The living room is mostly furnished with authentic asian inspired furniture like this mahogany opium bed. Behind it on the walls is a pair of lacquer wall hangings. The paintings have beautiful relief work that makes a strong design statement and complements the ongoing decorating scheme.
The pair of white and blue elephants was purchased by the couple in Hong Kong. With a glass top added to it, it currently serves as an accent table. At times, Nirmala has also used it to display her potted greens.
The dining room of the Bondals is slightly different as in it has Swedish furniture. On their posting in Sweden, the couple started admiring the straight lines and simple style of this style of practical furniture. The dining table with chairs in pine wood is a very stark change from the deep wood tones seen throughout the other parts of the home. The highlight of this space is the wall with masks! Mostly collected from the many places the Bondals have lived in or visited. Their vivid colors and variety draws everyone`s attention. Bondals children (now married) bring back souvenirs every now and then to add to their parents' collection of masks.
I hope you enjoyed this beautiful home tour that is a collage of diverse cultures. This home tour has been in the making for many months now. So glad it finally got to see the light of day! Thank you Bondals for letting us tour your lovely home and we wish you the very best! The one person who needs a special mention is Hemangini Hoskote. She not only introduced me to the Bondals but also took time off from her very busy schedule to shoot images for the home tour. I can't thank you enough Hemangini!!!

As for you my lovely people, I know how much you enjoy good home tours so am currently working on bringing you another one  all the way from Singapore. Stay tuned!

(Photo Credits: Hemangini Hoskote for TECD; Image Copyright: Nirmala Jaishankar Bondal. The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of  Nirmala Jaishankar Bondal & TECD.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An Intimate space as fresh as the Spring Greens

Today's bedroom in focus is a beacon of visual simplicity. Balancing the abundance of white and neutral shades in this bedroom are the pops of cobalt blue and cheerful fuchsia. With no dearth of windows and a view of the trees at all times, the light from the window bounces off the whites in the room making it bright even on a sunless day. This gorgeous room is put together by Pratiksha Tandon, an Architect and Interior designer, currently living in the bay area. Here's what Pratiksha had to share about her design aesthetics, "My design aesthetic has evolved over the years from living in different parts of north India then travelling to the east coast and now finally the west. Having lived in apartments throughout, I realized the value of having limited functional pieces of furniture which are versatile in their use. I personally like bright, clutter free spaces. I believe one can make any space beautiful by using things one already owns without indulging in expensive decor pieces, with a little bit of creativity and an eye for good composition. In addition to that I love layering different colors, textures, prints and fabrics in my styling."

Simple clean lines and a clutter free organised space allows the eye to travel unimpeded, bringing an instant calm and serenity that every private sanctuary should explicitly communicate.

As you can gather, Pratiksha believes in the art of mixing. Be it textures, colors or patterns she has a way with them. For the current bedding, she has effortlessly managed to intermix pieces from 3 different bedsets! A wicker basket from a thrift store finds a cosy spot on the nightstand as a plant holder. A few books and other tchotchkes complete this functional yet personality filled corner.
I'm not surprised when Pratiksha tells me that her favorite spot in the house has to be this little reading nook. Propped up with cushions in blues and whites, this corner allows one to be insync with the outdoors despite being comfortably seated inside.  
A bunch of very healthy succulent cuttings from a generous neighbor adorn the empty planters and vases. Prathiksha says, "I cannot imagine a home without plants. They infuse a space with so much life." I couldn't agree with her more.
With that we come to the end of this no fuss private sanctuary. Hope you took away some cues to see how you could infuse aesthetic charm and visual interest in an all neutral intimate space. Thank you Prathiksha for sharing your decorating tips and a slice of your haven with us on TECD. Should you wish to follow along with her on her decorating journey, connect with Prathiksha on Instagram.

(Image Credit/Copyright: Pratiksha Tandon. The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of  Pratiksha Tandon & TECD.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Soft Landing (Featuring Freedom Tree)

If you follow me on Instagram you would know that I am very excited about my collaboration with Freedom Tree. Each of their products packs in so much. Energetic colors and strong print direction pump up the personality quotient of their products while their carefully selected materials and thoughtful design process unites great quality with authentic style. Their claim of "stimulating the freedom to have fun" is genuine. Freedom Tree’s incredibly stylish cushion covers truly made me leave my inhibitions behind and allowed the bohème in me to takeover. Damask Rose cushion cover from their latest collection aligns perfectly with the upcoming spring season. Feathery friends and floral patterns instantly bring the outdoors in. The Damask Rose cushion cover together with the solid kaki colored cushion made its way to our guest bedroom.
Decided to bring in more greenery and print, different materials and textures and top it off with some fun accessories. Result being a dowdy space was transformed into a mini-retreat in no time. (FYI – wall art is actually a plate charger and a woven tray.)

A close up of the fun prints and details!

Next, was the pretty blush pink silk cushion cover with the delicate red embroidery. The unusual color combination really got my creative juices flowing. I decided to design a whole room around this one. Added a lamp, a metal vase from Jaipur, books with spines in a coordinating hues, votive holders and Moroccan tea glasses and a touch of shine and shimmer through brass. 
The vintage brass Surahi is a cherished gift that a dear colleague/friend brought back from his homeland Azerbaijan.
For those of you who like exploring color options, experimenting with mixing and less matching and take delight in expressing yourself through your home, Freedom Tree is the answer to your décor queries. They also have a beautiful range of tableware, décor accessories, soft furnishings and furniture. A lot of their furniture pieces lean towards the mid-century modern style. However, they have recently launched a boho-licious collection with ornate carvings and all. The Bari bed  being a favorite!To browse their website or make an online purchase, click here.

(Image Credit/Copyright: Sruthi Singh. The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of  TECD.)