Monday, April 21, 2014

Coming soon..

I have been gone through April. Traveling and picking up lost threads of work family and friends. That done, a few things are in store for the blog. Starting with two beautiful design stories. Posting a sneak peak today, as I work on the actual posts themselves..

The first one that talks about drawing inspiration from the earth...

And the other that looks to the heavens... 

Do come back in a few days, much is brewing!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Desi style.

Irrespective of  occasion, scrapbooks and journals make perfect gifts. The  thought and effort that goes into making a memory book is a great way to express your  love. Above all there is no better way to preserve cherished photographs.  Have gifted scrapbooks to dear ones for a long time now.  Recently making one  for a  dear couple in the family, who had just completed  50 years of wedded bliss, I tried adding a  desi twist!

Bling Bling?
For festive occasions, weddings  and the like,  try  rich Indian layouts with the help of tikkis, Gota patti, zardosi and embroidery laces and printed wrapping papers. I tried it  for a few pictures from a wedding procession ages ago, and relived the moment in true north Indian barat  style all over again!

Go Bollywood!
When in doubt about any thing desi,  the easiest way forward is  to draw inspiration from Kitschy and colorful Bollywood. Here I reference  just the name of a popular film as a cover for a mini book for a sweet love story, but you can go the whole hog with disco colors and bolly pop layouts..

Hand Made Accents
A few pages for loving grand parents came alive with cute accents made using left over paper and embellishments.    For one of them pictured here, I used a tiny teddy bear ornament that had come off my child's hair clip. What made it really special was that the hair clip itself was a present to her  from her granny!

Vernacular Script
Some times store brought sentiments will just not do . Try handwritten script in desi vernacular for a personal touch, one which dadi/ Paati/ Bebe is sure to appreciate!  I had my kids write the same personally here:

Block Prints?
When running out of paper is a good thing. You can  then just reach for a sheet of paper in an old notebook something, and go over it with a block print stamp!  I did mine, with an office stamp pad and a tiny wooden block:

More ideas from all you avid scrapbookers out there will be appreciated. Do drop me a line!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Store in focus : Magnolia, Worli.

A classic case of seven year itch this. What else to call lawyer and design enthusiast Maulika Gandhi's decision to hang her black solicitor's coat after seven long years in the profession in favor of the business woman's hat? And she did it with panache too!

Maulika's labor of love is located just off  E moses road in Worli, Mumbai. Amongst a cluster of odd looking buildings in a nondescript lane stands the white, contemporary white facade of Magnolia, the home decor Atelier.

I have stumbled into the store, camera and gear in hand by accident. However it does not  take too long for me to get busy chasing beautiful things in Maulika's store .

A single-seater upholstered in cheery  yellow floral fabric graces the sunny entrance of the store.

At Magnolia the emphasis is on  classic pieces of furniture  and handcrafted objects d'art.  Passion for decor is a key element in designing stock according to Maulika, for whom the entire venture is a leap of faith to begin with. And the collection mirrors that preoccupation very well.

A quirky setting of up cycled, wood and tire furniture 

I notice an array of rough, up cycled  furniture, ideal for a patio or quirky  informal seating areas at home. "We design and create a majority of our furniture. Most if the up cycled pieces are created by us and the main aim is to re-use mundane and ordinary things and turn them into something unique. Plus we used a lot of recycled wood such as teak, sleeper wood etc. This way everyone can do their part in buying eco-friendly products without compromising on the design or aesthetics of their home" explains Maulika.

Another delightful find is the upholstery fabric used by the design team at Magnolia. Scraps of jewel toned Patola sewn together using kantha stitches. A vibrant and interesting touch for that  odd sofa or a set of chairs .

 A sofa upholstered with a patchwork of kantha embellished silk fabric

According to Maulika, using kantha on Patola offers a way of integrating modern living with old handicraft techniques. 

Talking of her future plans Maulika says : 

"Magnolia is a year and half old now. We are still spreading the word about our  flagship Worli store. We have a tremendous response from customers and we definitely have some expansion plans in the pipeline in the making" 

A few other interesting finds at Magnolia among many  also worth mentioning :

Digitally printed home decor and accents  add a dash of whimsy to the house India style and make excellent gifts too.

Vibrant colors combined with geometric prints marry the  contemporary  to the classic.

Stoneware and 
ceramic from 
Auroville  every home can do with....

Where :

83/C, Hansraj Pragji Building, 
Off. Dr. E Moses Rd., 
Worli Naka, Mumbai - 18.
Tel: +91 22-24951020 / 21 / 22

Check Magnolia out online.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trucking love

A vehicle sold as a chassis only from its manufacturer,  then custom built in numerous small and big workshops is a unique feature of the truck building industry in the Indian subcontinent. A  brightly coloured, desi truck bearing quirky messages and signature motifs speaks of the driver/owner personality and above all the love that goes into making it a spectacle of form over mere function. So when a dear friend contacted me with the idea of surprising his soon to be wed buddy with a custom 
made gift for his big day, I had to look no farther than a local truck building yard.

Here it is then, a true labor of love in more ways than one. The Truck Trunk!

Before starting the project I made a trek to a truck building yard in Masji Bunder, Mumbai.  To understand how a truck is a labor of love, one merely has to see crafts men spend days on an end building truck bodies and customizing them for their owners.   A well finished  vehicle has its  owner/ driver's personality all over it and unashamedly. For such a predominantly masculine profession and the ruggedness of a truckers life, the style of painting is surprisingly cheery, colourful and irreverent.

What better gift could there be for a biker? One that speaks of his affinity for the road and all things highway.. ? His black enfield bike called 'dug-dug' and his dreams of a biking trip to Ladhak for a honeymoon?!

Hence the Love Carrier .  Together with all the cheesy delight of the highway, bright kitschy colors, saying and one liners typical subcontinental verve and expressiveness.

The best trucks in the region come out of Pakistan. Meticulously detailed and painted in vibrant kitschy colors of the, these trucks and busses have plyed the Karakoram highway for long.   My own little truck trunk draws a lot from the tradition.

Not going too much into the details of the design history of the art form, it was easy for me to see in this small workshop in Mumbai that things are changing rapidly. A lot of the details that would be hand painted onto trucks in the past are being replaced by plastic sticker sinage. Most workshops prioritise delivering functional bodies over  individual custom finishes.  Above all , the master painters' are dwindling in numbers.

Painting this little truck trunk with  inputs and suggestions from the master painter Issar bhai has been a fantastic learning for me. Of course a detailed post about the workshop and its going ons is due.
It is a project borne out of love  and very fittingly tells a love story of sorts too! And since Feb 14th  just went past,  Belated Valentine's day folks!!!

detail of  road signs and graphics inside the box.

Detail of  a hand made  heart  tassel 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Home is where the inspiration is.

Announcing the winner of the giveaway posted early last month.  Canada based architect and entrepreneur, Liza Skaria's answer  bags her  this limited edition print signed in verso :

A detail of make shift , plastic and canvas tents that house pilgrims at Kumbh city, Allahabad.

On the subject of homes and what they mean to us,  a couple of conversations I have had with friends and readers recently brings me to today's  post..

In which what one surrounds oneself with finds organic and subconscious expression in what one does sometimes.
Its going to be a series of quick collages I posted to a secret Pinterest board recently.  One that a fellow blogger friend the inimitable Archana Srinivas of Rang Decor encouraged me to put together. Archana needs no introduction, but this much has to said, she is a major motivation for mine among a score of other blogs like ours . Read her lovely blog here.

That my  home is an expression of what drives me internally is something I  knew intuitively.  But to realise how much took this little exercise.. 

One morning for me, and an evening for Archana who currently building her nest in Minnesota, USA, many steaming cups of tea and a free wheeling chat about work inspiration and `style' prompted me to look into my work and  and inspirations.

With some thinking I juxtaposed work from the Photo+ series I launched last year against vignettes from my home and work, in collages and came to a realisation...

Like every book read, ever word written, every movie seen, every place traveled what you photograph, and what you curate as an environment around you has a say in who you are and what your inspirations will be. It matters what you say with your home..!

Have  shared the mood-boards I created for Archana with you via these hurriedly put together collages. Do leave me a word if this resonates with you at any level ( of agreement or disagreement both ) at all!

Monday, January 27, 2014

DIY : Fun with scraps.

A brand new -closet to decor- DIY project for old faded garments  to start the year...!

Five old - really old garments, one fine day in a stroke of inspiration... (Remember this ?) go under the scissors. And the resultant is a shabby and unevenly sewn yet  fun coverlet for the master bed!

I have a thing for not throwing away stuff.  So a few old kurtas and  table cloths which were  completely exhausted  but loved all the same  -for one reason or the other,  get reinvented  over one weekend.  Since I am no expert with the sewing machine,  it helped that the project did not require one to be perfect.

The Recyclables:
Old kurtas table cloths and an old curtain..

The garments were chosen based on a broad color scheme I wanted to follow for the bed-spread. They were then dismembered into same sized squares and put together  strip by strip until we finally have a Indian block print meets  Chinese and Japanese vegetable dyed batik meets pin-tuck story..!

Here is the shabby chic boho inspired results.. You like?!

Although not pictured here, the sheet has been backed with a plain navy blue casement fabric from an old curtain .

While cutting the squares and assembling the scraps  here are the few things I tried to keep in mind:

~  Cut equal sized squares form all over the garment, sleeves and interface included.
~ Join scraps of similar colored/ patterned fabric from the trims to extract the maximum use out of  the garments.
~ retain the full motif of large prints without wasting fabric to the extent possible.
~ Try not to repeat the same fabric twice in a row .
~ go over each row twice with the machine or better still interlock if you can ( I do not have the interlocking feature on my machine )
~ try to be neat. ( even with all the striving to be neat, the result is uneven in this case, but focus while working helped!)

I had a great time putting this one together.  You like ? !! Do share simple ideas of your own  to recycle and reuse old things...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Color studies : in brown and blue.

Launching a  line of art work  ( photo +) that deals with layers of materials and techniques,   has done a few things to me and the way I  approach my photography. It forces me to think accross disciplines. For the first time the image is also a starting point for a larger story. I am learning to see things accros a broad spectrum of things without compartmentalising. 
Images objects and stories come together to make a memory.

In 2008, I curated a small object based exhibition that appropriated household objects from expat Indian homes based in Hongkong ( pictured below). 
The experience of working with a large number of migrant  families and their stories of movement, dislocation and nesting in a foreign country was eye opening. The power of the domestic space in defining identity and  the immediacy of a possesion however small was a revelation.  My fetish for objects and material goes farther back, but this small exhibition encouraged it tremendously.
There was an intense desire on my part at that stage to work with objects and possessions. I started collecting  materials. Letters, postcards, photographs and the like.  

With Photo plus that desire to curate across media has gradually taken shape. There is a long way to go yet.
Late last year it struck me to apply a simlar approach to the blog. Talking homes, decor, interiors and lives still,  yet in different ways and definitely with more engagement with the subject.

I have made small beginings already. Today's post is yet another effort in more involved blogging. 
A series of posts will follow suit.

Today, I pick a color based modboard  for browns and blues
A combination of the contrasting elements of the earth and sky creates unearthly poetry..It's chic, contemporary and timeless, all at the same time. Here is a little brown and blue from  all over, other  homes, closets, the Photo+ work table, some of my photography and my own home.
Will come back with more since there is a lot more to say, until then I hope this make sense...


Photo credit : Pinterest. Among a lot of  wonderful oriental and Cuban interiors is also an outfit from my favourite designers, Payal Khandwala's previous collections.  A big fan of her fantastic sense of color and a very boho take on cuts and styles. 

A mood board created with an assemblage of color based objects, illustrations and photographs  from my studio and home.

Details from the mood board..

An Arastan shop in shop at Goodearth, Raghuvanshi Mills.
Arastan. The Bangalore base home and artefact label is unfortunately closing down soon. [A post about them was among a long list of to do's which never got done for one reason or the other unfortunately.]

One of Jodhpur's many blue houses. The  old quarter of the city is a symphony of blue and earth. Check out a more detailed post here.

When the dining table is off duty.

Browns and Indigo in the bedroom, plus and minus orange and rust as accent colors.

Hand built pottery in the kitchen.

Photography from Jodhpur livens up a mostly earth canvas of objects.

Finally a few images of a silk cushion I hand embroidered a while back from the archives..


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