Friday, October 28, 2016

It is that time of the year again! (Diwali 2016)

Yes it is! 

Let me give you a quick run-down of the festive atmosphere here at the TECD casa..... Everything is squeaky clean and shiny for Diwali.....come evening and the home is enveloped in the candid glow cast by the flames lit from the diyas and candles.....The kitchen smells heavenly with the aroma of ghee being generously added to every dish.....Diwali gifts are being wrapped for family and friends......And marigolds and mums are happily conquering different areas of the home with their cheer!
Whether you are celebrating Diwali to commemorate Goddess Laxmi’s birthday or are celebrating it to honor Lord Rama’s return from his exile, for me, it is a wonderful time of the year to slow down for a moment, observe traditions and gather family and friends around and enjoy the precious company of my tribe!
To make it extra special for my tribe, I’ve created a festive atmosphere with fall colors this Diwali. Yes, I didn’t have to look very far for inspiration. All I had to so was to peep outside my window. The Golden hues of the leaves have been mimicked by the glistening brass and the orange and red tones are being aped by the seasonal flowers like Marigolds and mums. 
I think Marigolds are quintessentially Indian! If I had to describe these beauties, I'd say that their ruffled edges, look like beautiful ghagras being twirled around in merriment. And their exotic fragrance may not be the sweetest but its familiar scent brings back impressions of a happy time for me. So when a wonderful neighbor friend, very graciously shared these blooms from her garden, I was so excited to include them in every possible vignette that I had visualized.  To add a special unconventional touch to the arrangement, I brought out my dried lavender stems that I have been saving since last summer. The final effect is what you see above! 
And then of course, I had to bring out the terracotta diyas for no Diwali decor is complete without their presence! But to minimize the mess, I just stuck in votives into them and was done lighting them in no time!
When it comes to tablescapes, I have two of them planned out this time. First one is the one that you see above. A simple center piece created by grouping my vintage amber miniature glass hobnail oil lamp, brass kalash pots (holding pretty apricot colored mums) and an intricately carved wooden charger. A beautiful runner with floral embroidery forms the base of the setting. The delicate embroidery picks up the hues that I intended to juggle this time for Diwali, making the entire setting look cohesive. To add a more Diwali-ish effect to the setting, I went ahead and added some embellished votive holders in the same shades. (Decor Tip: Incorporating seasonal colors into your festive decor is always a good idea as it makes it so easy to create a pulled together look in no time. Like for instance, the stores here in the US are now brimming with decor in fall hues.) Second, is an elaborate tablescape  with red roses and a lot of shimmer for my Diwali party that I'm hosting for a group of friends. This will be happening this Saturday, so I'll try my best to sneak in a few clicks and then share it with you'll at leisure.......
Before we wind up, I had to include this image here that garnered so much attention both on FB and Instagram.  Black is a bold color choice to go with but I'm glad the final effect is awesome (if I may say so myself)! My readers too backed me up on this non-traditional color choice and had the nicest things to say about it in their feedback guys are the best! 
And finally my mantel all decked up for the festival of lights......

I wish you (my favorite people) a laughter filled, fun, green and safe Diwali! 

(Images and Styling: Sruthi Singh. The images are copyright protected and may not be used without prior written permission.) 

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Virtual Tour of EKA Lifestyle in Bengaluru!

With Diwali just around the corner, the timing could not be more perfect for a grand tour of this wonderful shopping destination called EKA Lifestyle based in Bengaluru! Also a number of my readers (based in Bengaluru) have repeatedly asked me to suggest a place to shop for brass artifacts and unique home decor accessories. This people is my answer to that question...... 

This is the one store that I make it a point to visit every time that I am in Bengaluru. A quaint little décor store, tucked off in the busy by-lanes of Ulsoor, that transports you to a whole different world the minute you step into it…..Infact, my association with Eka goes way back to my days when my husband and I we were setting up our first home in Bengaluru.

Eka was started 16 years ago and has grown to create a niche for itself with brass and décor enthusiasts. Kimiko Thakur Menzies is one of the partners at Eka and she very graciously let me share this wonderful store with you’ll. If you are looking to bring that instant air of decadent glamour to your home, then you are in the right place. Eka’s collection of brass artifacts and figurines is the most desirable, with beautiful detailing and great quality. I can tell you well in advance that you are going to have a hard time picking just one!

Every year at this time, Eka gears up for its annual event titled the “Lamps of Celebration”. It is a Diwali Promo event that boasts of exquisite collections, curated for this festive season such as hand painted clay diyas, ornamental brass lamps, bejeweled ranjolis, torans crafted from tissue and peals, decorative t-lights, runners and cushion covers in gorgeous cheerful colors and intricate brocade fabrics. A new introduction at Eka this year, is the ready-made Diwali hampers that are the perfect gift giving solution! If you make it there before the 31st of October, you can make the most of their ongoing festive offer that discounts divinity brass idols at 30%!

I’m going to let the images do the talking for me and I do hope you enjoyed this virtual tour and have it book marked as your new shopping destination for traditional brass artifacts. (FYI: Most of these images were shot on my March visit to Bengaluru this year. While the rest of the images were shared by the lovely Kimiko of Eka.)

Store Address:
#19 Gangadhar Chetty Road,
Opposite RBANM's grounds,
Near Ulsoor lake,
Bengaluru - 560042.
Tel: +91 80 25544371, 25540876,  +91 98454 77648
(The store plans to launch their updated website soon. Until then direct all queries to their FB page or call them at the above numbers for products details and inquiries.) 

(Image Credit: # 2,4,7: Eka, #1,3,5,6,8 : Sruthi Singh)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lai's website has a new avatar and spotlight on their latest collection "Bidri X MCM" !

"Lai" the designer jewelry label (based out of India and California), designs and manufactures distinctive, culturally inspired collections of handcrafted silver jewelry. Their approach to design is adopted specifically keeping in mind the confident woman of today and her need to express her taste in culture, history and arts – through the jewelry that she chooses to adorn herself with. What’s even better is that shopping for these exquisite pieces, just got easier! Lai recently launched their refreshed e-commerce enabled website that integrates ease of navigation, stress-free checkout option pooled together with exceptional customer service that is second to none. 
What’s more is that they also recently launched their new collection titled Bidri X MCM. Puja Bhargava Kamath (Founder and Creative Head)​ of Lai has tapped into the minimalist sensibility of Mid Century Modern style and has created a signature collection by fusing it with the heritage metal crafting techniques of Bidri. Puja shares that this craft form involves a 4 step tedious process of mould making, melting the alloy and casting the article, engraving and inlaying the design and lastly oxidizing.
The exquisite monochrome pieces are a limited edition collection with only 29 pieces in the offering. Giving prominence to clean lines and geometric patterns, the collection speaks of unparalleled originality in design, style and flawless quality. The Bidri X MCM is a mix of bold cuffs, elegant necklaces, unique rings and earring and caters to aesthetic connoisseurs with an ultra- mod taste.
Lai was also picked to be on Conde' Nast Traveller India's list of “one of the top 50 Indian brands that "use traditional techniques and materials to create cool, contemporary fashion".” With that kind of validation, I say go grab your favorite piece before its gone!
I've featured Lai before and should you wish to read more about their other collections, click here, here and here. The Indian Jewelry project is another initiative that is very close to Puja's heart was first shared here on TECD. Click here to read the entire feature.   

Starting next week, we get into the area of hard core decorating for Diwali, so stay tuned.........

(Image Courtesy: Lai)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Maharani Baug for the Banjara (Nomadic soul) in you!

Maharani Baug”(translated to mean “garden of pleasure”), is a Pune based jewelry label that has a charming collection of elegantly handpicked tribal jewelry and unique fashion accessories. These pieces are perfect to add that vintage, ethnic, bohemian touch to your festive attire. The creative team at Maharani Baug consists of the sister duo, Abhilasha and Aditi, who besides jewelry are also passionate about fashion, travel, design and all things beautiful. Their newest festive collection, titled “Shakti” has a wonderful mix of elaborate neckpieces, danglers, rings and anklets with a distinct aged patina that only adds to the charm of these pieces. A one-on-one with Aditi of Maharani Baug, got me talking about their journey so far and more about their latest collection Shakti. What’s more, the images shared here are exclusively just for you!
TECD:Hello and welcome to TECD, Aditi! So glad we are finally doing this feature! Let’s start by asking you how did Maharani Baug happen?

Aditi: “Thanks Sruthi, so excited to be featured here on TECD! 

My sister Abhilasha and I are lucky to be third-generation, army children. So, in a way, our family has been nomadic for the last three generations and this has created a yearning for travel, exploration and an eternal gypsy soul within us! We have been fortunate to witness several of India’s craft clusters first hand in our formative growing years and this has left such an indelible mark on us that it led both of us to create Maharani Baug despite our flourishing corporate careers! What started as admiration for our grandmother’s jewelry collection, collected by her over the years from her time in Pakistan and Kashmir, evolved into a great desire to share our love for jewelry and these bold, affordable and handmade pieces with the world.”
TECD: What would you say is the USP of your brand?

Abhilasha: “Firstly, our brand is a contradiction - we mix the old with the modern, the past with the present, the rough with the smooth and royal with the tribal.

Secondly, a lot of our pieces we sell are vintage! At Maharani Baug we love rescuing jewelry that is often being sold to be melted and converted into something flashy and new! We scout for pieces that have been pre-loved and that come with a story! We appreciate the history and heritage that comes with a vintage piece and makes us wonder about all the adventures the piece has had and the magical memories it created with its previous owner/s. As a rule, we never clean our vintage pieces - we love that they have a wonderful patina! Cleaning vintage pieces would actually make them loose some of the charm and character, so as you will notice on close examination, a lot of our jewelry shows a few spots of oxidation and signs of wear tear!"
TECD: Tell us more about your latest collection Shakti? 

Aditi: “This collection manifested from our desire to celebrate the feminine form SHAKTI - the manifestation of divine feminine creative power within us all. We consciously chose to launch this collection during Navratri, 9 Holy nights of celebrating our womanhood and also chose to work with an all-woman artisan base. Maharani Baug prides itself at assisting and empowering the women craftspeople of India and giving them a fair chance to earn a livelihood.”
TECD: What according to you, is the most satisfying aspect about your entrepreneurial venture?

Aditi: “The best part of this journey has been the chance to interact with wonderful women - first our craftswomen - we love and respect their craft, their dedication and their entrepreneurial skills and how wonderfully they balance home and work. Second, all the fabulous women patrons of Maharani Baug.”
TECD: Where does one shop for these pieces?

Aditi: “We currently sell via Instagram and our Facebookpage. Just drop us a line there with your questions about the products and pricing queries and we'll get back to you with the details."

I'm sure you are lusting over these gorgeous pieces, so head straight over to Maharani Baug's Insta page and make your pick before these limited edition beauties are all sold out !

(Image Courtesy: Maharani Baug)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Festive Entertaining with Coppre!

Festive season calls for entertaining in style with a huge dollop of glamour! I’m leaning towards the newest collection from Coppre, their “High Tea” range! The products from this range add the right amount of shimmer and shine, elevating the ambiance on such festive occasions to a whole new level. As we know, Coppre strives at honoring traditionally employed metal crafting techniques of India and blends it with innovative product design unlike any other. What I absolutely love about this particular collection is that the design is grounded in simplicity, has a contemporary vibe and has been experimented with by combining other elements such as wood and brass. 
You can now savor the regal ceremony of High Tea that was once reserved for the royals and aristocrats, with the finest and newest interpretations of the classic serveware from Coppre.  
Wooden Cheese boards in two sizes accented with a distinct floral copper motif (derived from the base of the temple shikhara) and modern angular shape, makes for a trendy way to serve up treats for Dilwai or for a more casual setting when friends stop by for a wine and cheese affair.
Next, we have the perfect display for sweet treats. The Regal pastry Stand and the Tiered stand offers both durability and elegant, modern flair. My absolute favorite being the Regal pastry stand, where brass and copper come together in a dual concentric circle design, with wood being the contributing factor for the sturdy base. Definitely something for the baker and pastry enthusiast, so that you can serve up your delectable goodies with some oomph.

Cocktail snacks and finger foods have never had a more lustrous and royal looking dish to be served in. Easy to pass around, these beauties are also perfect as a hostess gift.
This time around, Coppre has experimented with buntings and festoons in fun geometric patterns. I absolutely love the traditional toran/ bandanwaars effect that they bring with them. I happened to get my hands on this beauty and have used it to prettify my fireplace. Alternatively, you could use it to adorn your doorway and give your guests a royal welcome. (FYI: Another thoughtful gifting idea!)
Make sure you add a little sparkle this season with Coppre! The High Tea range is available at Coppre’s web boutique as well as at Amazon

(Image Credit: 1-5 : Coppre, 6 : Sruthi Singh)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Smitten by Antique Charm (Home Tour)

The sprawling eight year old pent house of Air Marshall Prakash Pingale and Sonali Pingale in Pune, is the perfect canvas to their collection of antiques and treasures that has been amassed over a period of 45 years. Does the name Sonali Pingale ring a bell??? Well, you guessed right! She is the founder and lady behind the leading furniture and home décor boutique Sanskriti Lifestyle. Her connoisseur’s sensibility shines through the perfectly curated collection showcased at Sanskriti and also extends to their personal abode.
Sonali’s style is pretty much Indian with a contemporary twist. Sonali on her decorating style, “Travel and moving houses was inevitable with my husband’s job. We literally used to move every two years. As a result of which we lived in many houses, from roomy bungalows to pigeon-holes. The many challenges helped me in developing my own interior style - indo-contemporary.” And when you take a closer look at the home, you realize this style that she is referring to advocates passion for surrounding yourself with things you absolutely love, a style that experiments with pushing the boundaries of a look to its limits, a style that exudes an air of improvised appeal yet looks sophisticated in every way……Shall we get on with the home tour then? And Trust me when I say, you are going to have a lot of “where did she get that?” moments, as you read through this home tour that is filled with visual surprises! 
The dramatic entryway to the Pingale’s home is a mirror of sorts. It acquaints one with the home owner’s inimitable personality, individualistic style and their exquisite taste when it comes to decor. Antique jackfruit wood pillars from Kerala flank the entrance to the home, making it a grand welcome. The Buddha bust and framed Sreenath wall art came from Bali. A set of mismatched plates (some new, some old) collected from the Pingales various travels makes for an interesting collage. Sonali on the strong presence of antiques and vintage treasures in her style of decorating, “I like old and vintage pieces because I can relate to them. I grew up with these things around me.
As we make our way through the home, the transition areas which are normally the hardest of places to decorate have been given purpose by creating interesting displays in them. More ceramic plates, a beautiful carved console with a marble top, old south Indian lamps grouped on a side-board and a large antique traditional brass lamp from Kerala mingle happily together to create what is a warm and lived-in feel. 
Did your heart just skip a beat? Mine did too! When I first laid eyes on their gorgeous living room, I was completely captivated. Though each piece is a statement piece and can hold its own in a room, the way Sonali has found the perfect placement for each one of them, is pure genius! It all looks so cohesive together without each of them vying for attention. The Brahmin boy painting is a copy done by a local artist and framed in an old wooden door frame. The Devi riding the tiger is from Karnataka, and is an old piece made out of wood. The ornate rosewood chair is an antique and was sourced from Goa. Taking center stage on the coffee table is a bronze breastplate that is worn by the Theyyam dancers of Kerala to take on the female form. Now that is definitely a conversation piece, won’t you agree?
The Tanjore paintings that you see all over the house are 25-50 yrs old. Antique wooden finials have been given a renewed purpose as mini shelves. They display an assortment of brass statues. A crew of old copper pandaans (beetle-nut boxes) make for another wonderful grouping on the coffee table. 
The stairway leading up to the bedrooms, houses stone sculptures on the window sill and colored glass lanterns hung together at varying heights to make a pretty grouping. The delightful painting is by a new-age artist, Devidas.
On the landing of the stairway stands a Buddha from Bali and an old Tanjore glass painting above it. On the adjoining wall, are antique wooden carved kavadi panels that are very popular among Lord Murugan’s worshippers in South India. 
To contrast the mustard wall color, a pair of wooden Hanuman statues with a beautiful peeling patina of rust from Karnataka is teamed up with an over-sized mirror and console. Sonali on her decorating mantra, “My mantra is very simple really. It’s your home- do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with pieces you like. It’s your own private haven so don’t worry about what others have to say.” I totally second that!
Every arrangement points in the direction of Sonali’s discerning eye for beautiful things! Another vintage armoire in a distressed teal shade pops against the mustard walls. Perched on top of the armoire is an old Vishnu lithograph (thought to be more than 50 yrs old) and other wooden finds that make a fascinating display. 
As you can tell by now, Sonali is an advocate for the avant-garde decor style. The unusual pairing of old Christian icons with the Ganesha statue from South India set on a wooden trunk from Kochin, boasts of this very fact.
Another one of those happy experiments where Sonali has successfully put together disparate pieces in a stunning vignette. Antique Tanjore paintings are placed over a pitara from Rajasthan with a collection of antique lamps. The African figure that you see is originally meant to be a musical instrument.
The guest bedroom of this home is no different. It carries the same vibes as the rest of the home and is chock-full of found treasures. The console was custom made by using old carved pieces of wood. Hanging above the console is a painting by contemporary artist, Devsale. The art deco style armoire you see in the corner is over 60 years old.
The master bedroom is another well put together place. A refuge that is replete with more art, artifacts and distressed one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. This is by far Sonali’s favorite room in the house, “It’s comfortable and I can completely unwind in here.” The rooster art is an oil painting by an African artist while the painting on the easel is done by a local artist.
In the Pingale’s home, the outdoors receive as much attentions as the indoors. This is the sit out on the terrace with an old bench painted bright blue and an old continental brass bed. In the corner is an old altar from Goa. 
This was my 25th home tour and I truly wanted it to be a special one! And boy, the Pingale’s home is the perfect fit to celebrate this milestone. Thank you Sonali and Prakash for letting us tour your gem of a home. It would definitely be amiss if I didn’t mention the lovely Shalaka Pingale here. It is because of her, that this home tour came together so beautifully. Thank you Shalakala for all the effort, I owe you one.
As for you my readers, I know you would want to go back and take in every detail possible. So go right ahead but don’t forget to write to me with your wonderful feedback !
(Image Credit: Shalaka Pingale , The images may NOT be copied /used for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the prior written permission from the Pingales and TECD)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

HouseThat - the New Destination for Global Decor Finds

Travelling to far off destinations always brings with it the exciting opportunity to explore the local markets and fairs and bring back either handmade treasures created by local artisans or other unique finds that remind us of time well spent. But one too many times, we’ve had to stop and think twice about how we were going to haul back all that shopping with the limited baggage constraints. Well, that’s where the California based online décor boutique “HouseThat” comes into play. Having been faced with a similar situation while shopping at a global handicrafts fair in India in 2015, owner and founder of HouseThat, Rajrupa Ghosh decided to resolve this dilemma by creating an online platform to bring affordable and original home decor products, curated from all over the globe to consumers worldwide. HouseThat as a platform also serves to popularize Indian craft forms like Dokra, blue pottery and terracotta ceramics to an international audience.
A Technical Product Manager with a computer science background, Rajrupa has worked for companies like eBay and HP in the Silicon Valley. She also being a design and decor enthusiast has done her fair share in getting a deeper understanding of the interior design world and never misses an occasion to visit art exhibits and decor fairs. Her new venture, HouseThat gives her the opportunity to combine her online retail business skills with her enthusiasm for all things aesthetically beautiful.

HouseThat has a diverse range of meticulously curated products , with something to fit every genre of decorating style. They source agate from Brazil, Alpaca throws from Peru, Terracotta serve ware and Dhokra items from India, and also have Mukul Goyal’s contemporary-chic sculptural serve ware just to name a few. Infact, I personally had so much fun creating style and color specific mood-boards for you’ll with their wonderful range of products.
Talking to Rajrupa on the USP of the brand she says, “Our product style is exquisite home products that reflect a deep connection to cultural heritage and authentic craftsmanship without the luxury price tags. We believe in striking a chord with the customer by providing superior quality products with a reliable shopping experience that includes great customer service, fast shipping and worry-free returns.”
In the coming months, the company plans to add more products and styles to their home accent category and soft furnishing section. Will let Rajrupa share more on this, “We are extending our home furnishings line by adding custom-made designer drapery. Users can order made-to-order drapes from our site by selecting from a wide range of premium fabric and styles, using custom dimensions and additional options for lining, tie backs etc. These drapes will be made and delivered to the customer's doorstep within 4 weeks at one-fifth the cost at other retail stores.” As for the upcoming festive season, they are restocking their entire collection and also adding more serve ware like brass chip and dip platter, terracotta appetizer server and terracotta mugs!
Since Rajrupa is an ardent décor enthusiast, I couldn’t help but ask her, her never fail decor tips and tricks. And this is what she had to say:
  • “Do not overcrowd the room - I believe in clean design with few pieces of well selected furniture, decor objects, wall art etc. that reflect your taste and style.
  • Lighting is really important while decorating - use natural light whenever possible and also add lamps, tea lights etc. if you want to accentuate a decorated corner or any focal point in the room.
  • Houseplants are a great way to add life and calmness to any room. They fill up any awkward space in your room, and you can match the color and texture of the pots to the decor. Small potted plants work beautifully to transform any table top, shelf, kitchen/bathroom counter into a clean, creative space."
HouseThat ships all over US and internationally to Canada, UK, Europe and Australia. To get updates about their sales and latest products and collections, follow them via Facebook and Instagram. To shop these delightful finds and get your home festive ready, click here. ( And may I mention their brass and throw pillow section is my favorite!)

Thank you so much Rajrupa for reaching out to TECD. We wish you all the very best in your entrepreneurial venture.

(Image Credit: HouseThat ; Creative Moodboards and Storyboarding : Sruthi Singh)