Monday, July 10, 2017

A Place called Home (Home Tour)

Today’s post revolves around the excitement of owning and setting up that special first home! And mind you, excitement is not the only emotion that one experiences…..there’s an element of disbelief and elation that you can now decorate a place to your heart’s content (without having to worry about something as trivial as putting 'x' number of nails in the  walls of a rented home to hang your favorite pieces of art or paint the walls in a rainbow of colors should you like that). Then there is the panic and self doubt phase, when it comes to laying down the decorating plan, making you wish you had chosen interior design as your profession.  And then, comes the anxious phase to get it all done asap, so that you can enjoy binge watching your favorite show on the weekends and not worry about wandering through furniture stores testing couches, fabrics and colors… get the drift don’t ya?

Well, our home owner today has surpassed all the above and has created a strikingly sophisticated but functional space for herself in San Jose, California. Anusha Venugopal is a software engineer by profession and defines her personal décor style as “mid-century modern with bursts of color thrown in for that Indian touch and a homely feel.” One look at her home and you can tell so much about this lovely lady. She likes things clutter free, organized and is very passionate about travelling, photography, baking, gardening, and entertaining. Her decor style has been vastly influenced by her mom and TECD, “My love for home decorating is something I believe I got from my Mom (who has beautifully decorated our house in Bengaluru). Growing up I’ve seen my Mom set up our home with great attention to details, balancing the needs and comfort with her personal style and I can proudly say that I have got all those qualities from her.

I’d also like to add, that while I was looking for décor inspiration to tap into for my own home, I came across TECD via Pinterest and instantly knew, that there were a lot of décor tips that I wanted to implement in my home. So after a year + of working on putting my first place together, I can thankfully say that the result is exactly what I wanted! ”

The staid elegance of the clean line furniture pieces that Anusha has chosen for the living room is balanced by introducing vivid shades of fuchsia and tangerine to the mix. The West Elm grey couch finds its rightful place after a 6 month long hunt for the 'perfect couch'. Anusha has taken inspiration from TECD to go with a neutral couch as the base and has then pilled on colorful cushions to dress it up. The accent chair in a shade of flamingo pink mimics the throw cushions on the couch, giving the place an edgy resultAs for the Buddha and coffee table tray, they traveled all the way from Bengaluru (Anusha's hometown) to add a touch of zen to this space. 

Talking about the significance of how a home should ideally reflect ones roots, Ansuha says, "Having my home showcase my roots is really important as it keeps me connected to where I come from, and what I’ve grown up learning and loving and furthermore what I hope my life would always be!"
Anusha says that rather than buying art, she'd rather adorn her walls with meaningful pictures that remind her of good times. I think that is a clever way to introduce her love for travel and save big bucks by creating your own art. Seen above are pictures clicked by Anusha from her travels to Tahoe, Bali, Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Egypt, and Puerto Rico. She says this gallery wall, gives her the freedom to add more to it as and when the opportunity arises.
Here's a close up of the home office that's neatly tucked away in the corner. Knowing the space limitations, Anusha cleverly looked around for desk designs that advocated small space solutions. After much research, she paired a West Elm desk and chair with some lively accents, to create a sophisticated work space to indulge her on days that she needs to work from home or catch up on her mails and bills payment.
A mid-century modern shelf proudly displays Anusha’s travel finds and few other treasured memorabilia, while keeping the other table surfaces clutter free. When asked what were the challenges that Anusha faced while designing her space, she shares, “To be able to strike a balance between a clutter-free home and one which is filled with things that she loves and treasures! “It is but natural that everyone would have a lot of stuff - some junk and some memorable stuff - to be able to decide and keep the ones that really matter and get rid of everything else was a very important and challenging aspect for me.

Along with this, finding the time to decorate was another challenge. Since I work full time, weekends are the only time I get to even think about decorating. So its been a long but happy decorating journey to bring my home to its current “finished” state.
Like the rest of her home, Anusha’s kitchen is no different. It echoes’ Anusha’s design philosophy of how good design should be stylish and have a purpose. Anusha says, “I absolutely love my open and spacious kitchen where I unwind and wash away all that I may have endured during the course of my working day by cooking a hearty meal.” Anusha added this versatile cabinet from Wayfair to serve as a bar unit. By keeping the cabinet in the same wood color as the kitchen cabinets, it makes the space seem larger and ties everything together beautifully. Love how the wood inlay details on the glass, adds visual interest. A bevy of mugs, colorful cups, family photographs, knick-knacks and a happy fiddle fig complete this corner.
Anusha’s bedroom impishly combines colors and patterns. She’s confidently chosen textiles in an invigorating blue hue and has tempered the room with accents in a very sunny shade of yellow to give the room the levity it needs. A hint of whimsy is added with some literally décor and a cheerful yellow night stand that she scored from Home Goods. Balancing the night stand on the other side is a dresser from Ikea that houses Anusha’s massive collection of necklaces. The overall look in the room, is clean, minimal and relaxing, just the way Anusha likes it.

Anusha seems to make the most of the great weather all year round in San Jose, all thanks to her patio (her favorite place in the house). Here she enjoys her cups of chai and home-baked almond cake. She’s successfully learned the art of container gardening and has home grown herbs, cherry tomatoes, lavender and other blooms adding color and fragrance to this outdoor space. A pair of colorful Suzani Terai folding chairs from Anthropologie add the spunk to this space and look perfect against the peach colored accent wall.

Here's what Anusha had to say about what the word home means to her, "Home is a place that reflects who I am and what I strive to be - “full of life, positivity and happiness” ! We wish Anusha all that and so much more!!! Thank you Ansuha for letting us tour your lovely home. 

Until we meet again, here's to the joys of decorating!!! 

(Image Credit: Prasad Sawant. Image Copyright: Anusha Venugopal. The images may not be used without the prior written permission of Anusha Venugopal and TECD)

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Chiseled Life - A Rendezvous with Sculptor Yethin N (Featured Artist)

In a very chaotic and stressful world such as ours, it is ART (in any form) that provides the much desired sustenance for the soul. When one peels away the layers of the art, at the core we have - the sentiments, thoughts, vision, experiences, skill and knowledge of the artist. It is this that flows through the art, letting us perceive and experience the world from a different perspective. Further this translates to mean (on a more macro level), connecting with others who share the same interest and vision. But on a more personal and micro level it means, enriching and connecting with oneself in ways which words cannot describe. I have never had the opportunity to showcase a “sculptor” on the TECD platform. So when the occasion presented itself, I was not going to pass it up! More so because, it involved hand sculpted brass statues, that are so close to my heart and form an essential part of my global-desi style décor.
Our sculptor in the spotlight is, Yethin N., a Bengaluru based 6th generation artist. His label, “Loha Arts and Crafts” specializes in handcrafted South Indian style deities. Yethin is adept at different styles of sculpting namely - the Hoysala style, the Chola style and the Mysore style and works with an assortment of metals such as bronze, copper and silver (silver being his favorite). Recently, Yethin has also branched out to cater to the demands of the market for traditional brass décor such as lamps, bells, wall hangings, etc. I’m so excited to get this interview rolling. So without further ado, let’s begin our rendezvous with this talented young artist shall we?

TECD: Hello Yethin! So thrilled to have you here on TECD. What was the thought process behind selecting the brand name? 
Yethin: “Loha, translates to mean ‘metal alloy’ in my regional language. As my work predominantly involves creating bronze idols, which is an alloy of three different metals, I found it appropriate to zero in on Loha. I haven't narrowed down the name to mean only bronze because I intend to expand on the supply of art with different media as well, hence 'arts and crafts' came into the picture as well.”

TECD: Tell us more about your foray into the world of sculpting?
“I come from a family of traditional sculptors. However, I never intended on following that path. Infact, I was a student of Law and have professionally taken up sculpting for the past three years. When time permitted, I would visit my father or uncle's workshop and observe them at work. The more time I spent there, I gradually discovered that sculpting came naturally to me. There was a flow to it all and it did not involve much effort from my end. As for the technical expertise on the subject of sculpting, all the knowledge, guidance and experience came from my family.”

TECD: What would you say is the essence of your brand?
“90% of the statues or idols which are available in the market or retail stores are duplicates (pirated). They just cast the Idol and sell it.
Each and every Idol that comes out of “our” studio is handcrafted in the traditional fashion. My idols are anatomically more precise and also aesthetically pleasing with extreme focus on attention to detail. When it comes to idols or deities, each and every mudra (hand posture) and weapons they hold, the way they stand or sit, everything has a meaning. Everything is documented in our Shastras (ancient texts) and also described in various mantras and slokas glorifying the deity. Sculpting the idols with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the same, sets me apart from the rest who treat this precious art form as an extension of another industrial setup or mundane job.”

TECD: Do tell us more about the in-depth traditional design process involved in creating these magnificent idols?
“The design process that is used has been passed on through generations. First we draw out a rough sketch of the deity or design. Next step is to craft the wax model or clay model using traditional methods. Third step is to take a mold of it and send it to the foundry for casting. After it comes back from the foundry, we use our tools (hammer and chisel) to carve out the intricate designs such as ornaments, designs and other features. It is a tedious process which requires lot of skill, experience and most of all patience.”
TECD: What would you say is the source of your inspiration?
“Most of my works are inspired from my grandfather's masterpieces. He is a national award winning craftsman. His masterpieces are displayed at the Rajeev Gandhi Art Museum (Delhi). Also, the temples situated in Mysore, South India have excellent sculptures which I adore and draw inspiration from.”

TECD: Your collection has a very strong South Indian influence. How important is it for you, that your designs showcase your roots?
“Yes, my creations have a strong Indian influence. To me, Art is a medium through which we have the opportunity to showcase our culture and tradition. With this thought in mind, it is very important that my designs showcase my roots and culture because that is what makes it unique. If my designs have a western or European influence, the essence is lost.”

TECD: What is your take on abstract forms of sculpture?
Yethin: “With a traditional background in arts such as mine, my affinity is naturally towards traditional arts and craftsmanship. I’m not personally fond of pseudo artists who just throw paint on the canvas or sculpt a stick figure and call it art. I need more form and substance, for something to be termed as art.”

TECD: Do you see yourself digressing from creating spiritual deities and if so what would you like to try?
“Sculpting is a dying art form. Even though a lot of people are taking up fine arts, not many are interested in traditional arts. They are drawn towards visual arts and other media. My own parents do not want me to be a sculptor. I feel it’s my duty to carry forward this traditional art form through to the next gen. So I don't see myself deviating away from my roots of creating traditional deities. Even if I try something new or different, it will definitely have the flavor of my original art form.”

TECD: Any WIP projects that you are excited about and would like to share with us?
Yethin: “Right now I'm working on a project for an Ashram in Tamil Nadu. Excited about creating 10 idols for them including Sharada Devi, Vaarahi, Maatangi, Sri Chakra, Nandi, Swan, etc.”

TECD: Where can prospective clients purchase your work?
Yethin: “As of now I do not own an exclusive outlet or retail store. I supply to the various stores in Bangalore and other cities. Majority of the work I do includes customized designs in which case, I directly work with the client. Currently working on expanding to an online market place which will also make my work available to international clientele. Lot of people buy artifacts from the nearest store without knowing the origins of the Idol. I want to introduce people to the original art and draw them to buy original handmade and handcrafted idols rather than buying duplicate ones.”

The biggest challenge that artists like Yethin face in today’s day and age is that duplicate idols and sculptures are available in the market at 1/3rd the price. But one must remember, if you compromise on the pricing, you are also compromising on the quality. I strongly urge you to buy genuine art and where possible, connect directly with the artists themselves. This way the experience of adding meaningful treasures to your private sanctuary takes on a whole new meaning - There is an instantaneous emotional connection with the object of your desire.

Readers who wish to follow and see more of Yethin’s work, please head to his Instagram gallery. You could also write to him at for  special commission projects, pricing and other product enquiries.

Thank you Yethin for sharing with us about your magnificent journey as a sculptor. We wish you the very best for your creative venture! (FYI: I’d also like to thank Pavan a fellow brass lover and reader of TECD for introducing me to Yethin’s work. If it wasn’t for him, this feature would not have been possible!)

(Image Credit/Copyright: Loha Arts & Crafts - Yethin N. The images may not be used without the prior written consent of the artist and TECD).