Friday, February 27, 2015

What a terrific week it has been!

Wow ! What an eventful week it has been....The response to the home tour feature has been phenomenal. I couldn't be happier! We have crossed 6K+ followers on Facebook :) I'd like to take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to all my new readers! I'm delighted to connect with such wonderful people, who make the interaction, the best part of what I do. So for those of you who are new to TECD and would like to get to know more about the blog and the person holding the creative reins of TECD, the timing couldn't be better. 
TECD made it to the  Houzify's "Blogs We Love" List. Houzify is a Bangalore based start up that is in its nascent stage. They plan to launch a mobile app for interior design which functions as a curated platform for home owners, professionals, retailers and bloggers, all coming together to create a dedicated community for home design. In their own words, "Houzify is a curated platform to discover and act on your love for home design and interiors". At this point in time, all I can share with you is that the company is lead by a group of accomplished individuals with experience of over 25 years in combined operational and domain and having worked with leading companies like InMobi & Google and graduated from Domus Academy, Milan (rated one of the top 30 design schools in the world by Business Week). So conclusion, a promising company - one to look out for! They are currently working on creating a curated database of beautiful homes, that can be used as inspiration by everyone for their own home decor projects. Will be sharing more on them soon but in the meantime you may read the TECD feature on Houzify right here.
On a different note, wanted to thank these generous people for such wonderful gifts. The first being a gorgeous silk kantha stole and a beautiful handmade bracelet from Mayil Scarves, that arrived this week. Such bright and happy colors, drove away my winter woes for sure. I can't wait for spring to show up so that I can flaunt this beautiful stole:) Thank you Madavi that was a lovely, lovely gesture. ( I've featured Mayil on my blog, you could read more about them right here.) 

The second being a beautiful pair of earrings from the Narangi collection of Studio Silver Paisley (SSP). Thank you Seeta, these are simply gorgeous and have become my absolute go to earrings when I need to dress up ! (You can see me sporting these beauties right here and read more about SSP here.)
This week was also very special because we celebrated my son's eighth year birthday. Time just flies.....Not so long ago, I remember holding a little bundle of joy in my arms and just watching him for hours together:) And now I have a little boy who is almost up to my shoulders:) Those eyes and the puppy dog gaze is still the same and thank God for that! 

Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful weekend with your loved ones.....

Image copyright/Credit : 1 - Houzify , 2 - Sruthi Singh

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Living In Color (Home Tour)

When decorating a home, the task at hand is to balance the functional needs of the space with a story that articulates about YOU - your aesthetics, your passion, your personality and your heritage. The New Jersey home of Shalini (an architect and designer), Manu Chakravarthy (a physician-scientist) and their two daughters Anika and Anusha,  illustrates all this and more. Tagging their style as ethnic-modern, Shalini goes on to say, "Our design style is defined by our experiences - from our upbringing to our many travels around the world. Indian art, crafts, textures, color and overall vibrancy remain an overarching theme and I can't be more proud to embrace it all in our style. We seek clean lines and strong massing in the main furniture pieces, with rustic/ethnic furnishings to complement them, with color being a defining element."
On entering the foyer, a slim console from West Elm (a favorite of Shalini’s), holds a beautiful collection of curios from the family’s many travels. The Garuda an exquisite piece claims immediate attention. Shalini snatched it up while on her visit to Thailand. Quoting Shalini, “The Garuda greets me each time I come in through the main door. I find it so tranquil. Funnily, the stores were so inundated with them in Bangkok, that one almost got sick of seeing too much of them! Here in my living space, I have utmost appreciation for it.” With the teal patina of the bell, mimicking the color on the Garuda, they make natural companions for each other. Shalini got a Christmas ornament stand to function as the bell holder. She shares that the bell hangs on it precariously but she refuses to find a replacement as she loves how they work together  !

At the far end of the console is a grouping of Indian brass artifacts. Describing the Bastar sculptural pieces Shalini says, "The stylistic mommy and baby elephant are a joy!" I couldn't agree with her more.
If you yearn for the energy generated by strong color choices, this formal living room is one your going to fall in love with. Scrumptious textures, patterns and colors, dress up this space ! Furniture from Bo Concept, Room and Board, West Elm, Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn is effortlessly mixed with finds from their globe trotting adventures. I'm going to let Shalini do all the talking here. "Ahh, my formal living! This space makes me so happy to putz around it every morning and rearrange the cushions, sit on the odd chairs... and then retire to the area we REALLY live in. I do like to entertain and this is where I have my peeps, cozily sitting around. Each curio and piece has a story to tell. I might add, they serve as a great conversation starter at times of crisis (with those guests you are obligated to host and have nothing in common to discuss)...I just bore them with what the hand beaten Nepalese singing bowl is all about. They may show utter disdain, but boy, am I happy to share ;)"
I'd be one happy guest to visit Shalini in her beautiful home. I love how Shalini has layered a CB2 rug over a West Elm durrie. Wouldn't you agree if I said that the almost psychedelic rug pulls all the colors together and makes the whole room pop?

I was curios to know who called the design shots? To which she answers, "I think our disparate backgrounds helps cover the bases. Between my husband's researched/deliberate considerations and my instinctual, gut predilections, decisions are made, more often than not, pretty cordially (and I would like to think that over the past 13 years, I have honed his aesthetic sensibility;)"
Being a color fanatic myself, I was drawn to the fact how Shalini has used color to define and sculpt the space. Talking about her color connection she explains, "I tend to gravitate towards warm/earthy tones for the walls (ochres, burnt brick, chutney green and the like), colors that compliment my decor. I love experimenting with different planes and wall segments (e.g. the cabinetry in the kitchen is all white, so I decided to have the ceiling a deep chocolate brown to bring in some visual drama). But this is not to say that pristine white/neutral wall with sparse pieces and subtle bursts of color, don't excite me- I love that too. I think it all comes down to balancing one with the other, and I am probably overtly sensitive (a euphemism for obsessive!) about that fine balance."
For visual continuity, the ocher on the walls is carried through to the formal dining space. Dark wood tones and a deep slate blue is introduced to perfectly complement the ocher. Take note of the fact how the white molding is highlighted in the company of deeper colors and adds to the aesthetic beauty and charm of this space. The ocher rug picks up the wall color and the blue accent wall gets picked up by a blue chair in the adjoining formal living - call it alchemy or Shalini's discerning eye for design ! 
The Exeter 16 Jar Pendant from Pottery Barn adorning the formal dining space is a show stopper alright ! The couple enjoy entertaining large gatherings and their extendable 12 seater table comes in handy. Love how Shalini has traded in the regular chairs for a bench as a seating option. She says the bench works great, as it adds a casual flair and proves useful to shove lots of kids in a row when entertaining big groups!   
A closer look at a zen corner in the formal dining space. All the colors work together so beautifully !
The Chakravarthy's library.....Sigh! A shift in color play keeps things interesting in this space. With black and white being the dominating colors, restrained use of red and interesting decor finds keep the eyes entertained. The space also doubles up as a home office/studio for Shalini. (She spearheads the design consultancy "De.sha Creative" that specializing in brand identity, advertising, print and web design. Along side, she continues to illustrate and paint creating a niche market for her work in mixed media. Should you be interested in getting in touch with Shalini for her design services, you could connect with her right here.) 

As you can tell, the family has some avid readers amongst them. Every inch of the space is efficiently utilized with shelves lining the walls. Shalini loves this space and absolutely digs the organised - messy look with books oozing from all corners. The chevron rug from West Elm and the telescope totally make the space rock ! 
Points of visual interest await you at every corner! Quoting Shalini, " I love grouping things and believe I can put my architectural and design expertise into good use when determining the subtleties involved with spatial relationships - height, staggers, negative space, color schemes, and scale. It is a marvelous thing, when you get it just right." This lovely lady has definitely  mastered the art of creating visually engaging spaces.
Another well thought out vignette in the media room. Shalini wanted a little grouping that looked aesthetic yet did not compete with the TV. African wrought iron figurines, a painting done by Shalini herself (inspired by the original painting titled Batua by Dithi) and abstract Madhubanis complete this vignette. Shalini says,"You can never go wrong with Madhubani paintings - so detailed and opulent, unless they are badly framed (which I have seen plenty of). I loved the linearity of these and got them framed back home because you know how ridiculously over priced custom framing is here!"

Shalini's wall of masks! The wall is a WIP project I'm told. Masks from Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Costa Rica come together beautifully to create a one of a kind focal point against the saffron wall. The adjacent wall has a mirror, which compliments this arrangement perfectly.
A successfully put together home always has stories to tell.The more time you spend in them, the more you decipher about the people who inhabit them. The home of Shalini and Manu Chakravarthy's is no different. They believe in creating a home with a personal style where every piece in the home has a story, purpose and meaning. Like this little grouping here in the kitchen, where each piece has a story to tell. And who better to tell the story than Shalini, "I am an avid cook. I find it therapeutic. Oh how I wish I had a humongous gourmet kitchen. But I don't. So whatever space I have, I want it to make me happy, while I chop away and fuss about. I picked this pot up at a street exhibition in Bangalore this time. I like faces (my mask wall, remember?).....Gumla - that's his name, makes me smile. So what if he holds a fake plant (I have the opposite of green thumb but that's a different story), he is happy being my kitchen custodian. The lady next to him is a lovely piece of pottery with a pretty face. A broken bell if you please! They were discarding it in a little Mexican restaurant shop in Cancun. I emphatically asked them if I could have it, they looked at me weirdly and handed it right to me without any hesitation. Ahaa, I use it as a lid sometimes, her big skirt can cover it all and looks oh so pretty!
And I must talk about the incense holder. It is from a Pondicherry store in Mysore. This is an ingenious design where you light the incense inside the holder while the smoke comes out from the ornate holes. Once burnt out, all the gunk is collected inside. Makes sense? If not, go get one, you'll see. I am not pious, but after cooking, I must light one, lest my house reeks of garam masala." 

The breakfast nook - a no fuss space. Functional furniture in dark wood tones and a rust colored carpet adds a cozy touch to this nook.
The Master Bedroom - a sanctuary! A subdued color palette promotes relaxation while clean-line furniture from Crate and barrel lends an urban casual vibe to the space. Color and pattern is injected into this space, by way of textiles. Shalini shares her thought process that went into designing this private refuge, "I really gravitate to the combination cane and wood. The headboard is reminiscent of my aunt's home in Delhi, back in the day. I picked up that interesting wall art, can't remember where, which adds a bit of dimension to the wall. The deep chocolate color on the wall along with the chutney green accents, I believe, is a marvelous color combination. The Raja Rani pictures flanking the bed are a recent find. The frames is what makes the pieces work! I found lamps that complimented the hardware of the furniture and I personally think, the grouping works! Now I can rest in peace!
The guest bedroom - the four poster bed makes  a grand statement in the guest bedroom. The boisterous character of this bright azule accent wall is toned down by pairing it with grey in the room. To unify the space, large motif bedding mimicking the blues and greys was  thoughtfully chosen by Shalini.

And now for a quick synopsis of  Shalini's decorating mantra : 
  • I do not believe one has to spend loads of money to bring character to a space - the more creative you are, the less you have to spend.
  • Be fearless and keep experimenting.
  • Just because you have kids doesn't mean the whole house has to turn into one gigantic toy room!!!
  • Don't let the buck stop at dressing well. Your home is an extension of you- bring your personality in it.
  • If you can't envision, steal ideas- go online, look at books, there is no dearth of amazing stuff out there.
  • One coat of color is all it takes to bring in some drama.
  • Every curio you have, should tell a story... and collect over time, let the process be organic... this is what distinguishes a real home to a staged home.
  • Don't forget to pick up an indigenous thing on your next travel, your living space is waiting...
  • Bright rugs can really lift a space.
  • Balance balance balance (one wee little thing - an extra curio, too much color - can tip it all on the wrong side).
That my lovely readers is some damn good decorating advice ! Before we call it wraps, Shalini's definition of what a home means to her, "My home is absolutely an extension of myself. It is a reflection of my personality and my biography." That it is Shalini, without a doubt! 
I've thoroughly enjoyed putting this post together and more so my long telephonic conversations with Shalini. Her ever enthusiastic personality, accommodating nature and sense of humor is so endearing. I'm glad I had the opportunity to connect with such a wonderful and creative soul like her. Thank you Chakravarthy family for letting us tour your breathtakingly beautiful home ! Wishing this beautiful family love , health and happiness ! 

It would be amiss, if I did not thank Anupama Gupta for introducing me to Shalini! Thank you Anupama for making this happen :) 

Image Credit/Copyright : Shalini Prasad. The images may not be used without prior written permission from the home owners. 
(If you do plan on pinning the images from the home tour, you may do so from my Pinterest boards and please link to the source, "The East Coast Desi".)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A look at Sarita Handa's First Mumbai Store !

Sarita Handa is a name to reckon with when it comes to luxe lifestyle brands. Known in India and internationally, the brand is synonymous with excellence in quality, emphasis on craftsmanship, a flair for sophistication, and products that echo global appeal. They offer a range of premium home furnishings like fabrics for drapes and upholstery, furniture, decorative accessories, rugs, bath range, bedding & exquisite hand embroidered cushions. 

With strategies to expand the brand’s reach, the dynamic duo of Suparna Handa (Brand Director and daughter of Sarita Handa) and Capt. Rahul Puri (Executive Director) launched the brand’s first store in metropolitan Mumbai. Quoting Suparna Handa, "We have always been in the business of creating classics and Sarita Handa is all about timeless designs made with uncompromised craftsmanship. Our dedication to this vision has taken us from a leading manufacturer of textiles to a well-known retail brand. And with the onset of 2015, we are proud to take it to the next level as we unveil our Mumbai store.”

A 2,500sq.ft loft-like tiered store nestled in Shakti Mill Lane, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, the store is designed by Livin' Colors Design. Bathed in natural light and a neutral color palette on the walls, the store is the perfect setting to showcase the unique and timeless designs of Sarita Handa. Injecting color into the space by thoughtfully styling the merchandise, layering the space with rich and interesting textures and incorporating global and Indian design influences, the space has an exclusive, high end yet warm and inviting aura.
Some of the prominent design features that the space boasts of are : a small courtyard with a sculpturesque Banyan tree as its focal point, teal colored doors and windows and an antique stone Buddha sculpture that greets you at the entrance creating an unforgettable shopping experience. 
The latest from the brand is an extensive range of rugs, kilims and exclusive antique Persian carpets collection, stunning wall art and paintings showcased by both young and established artists. Also on the list is an array of decorative accessories to choose from like the all new bronze statue collection, nickel finish decorative pieces like trays and wine coolers, new furniture designs in cane daybeds, dining table, chairs with embroidered backs, consoles to name a few.

Sarita Handa designs are meant to inspire living that celebrates creativity, aesthetics, class and love for the extraordinary. So all you Mumbai decor connoisseurs, you know where to head. But for the rest of you who are not in Mumbai (but are as smitten with the Sarita Handa collection as I am), you may explore more of the collection right here

Image Credit/ Copyright : Sarita Handa 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Put the Kettle On !

When you talk of the luxury lifestyle brand Mackenzie-Childs, the words that come to one's mind are playful, whimsical, iconic "courtly check" pattern and happy! Based in the charming town of Aurora, N.Y., the handcrafted line has gone from producing enamel and pottery tableware to furniture, garden and kitchen accessories, jewelry, handbags, pet gear and a whole lot more.

Creations from their Butterfly Garden collection have been on my wishlist for a while now. Decorated with hand-applied butterfly transfers, each butterfly boasts of a different MacKenzie-Childs' 
On my lust List !

Love how the regal iconic black and white checkerboard pattern is mixed in with the whimsical butterfly pattern.
With sub-zero temperatures in my part of the world, just looking at these pretty images makes me yearn for Spring.......I picture myself wearing a pretty floral cotton dress, in the company of my favorite ladies...... the sound of carefree laughter and gentle chattering..... the air is filled with the tempting aroma of freshly baked goodies........lavender tea is poured from the pastel blue butterfly kettle.........what bliss!
Now for a reality check! Stay warm and circle back with me next week for two very exciting of them being the much awaited home tour! Have a good one:) 

Image Copyright/ Credit: MacKenzie Childs

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mayil Scarves (Featured Shop)

If you ask me, scarves are a girl's best friend (after diamonds of course). They are truly a versatile fashion accessory! They can add the finishing touch to a cocktail dress or add a snazzy and lively vibe to an otherwise unexciting outfit. I even make sure to pack one on my travels as it helps me keep warm on those chilly planes. 
Believed to have its origins with the Romans, the scarf was originally used by men as a "sweat cloth" - to keep dry in the hot and humid weather. Later during the reign of the Chinese Emperor Cheng, scarves were used to identify officers or the rank of Chinese warriors. But today, it has become a fashion staple in every woman’s wardrobe, given the fact that there is a different scarf for every season and you can style them in a hundred different ways. (If you like experimenting with a scarf try wearing it in your hair like a bandana, knot it on your bag, fashion it as a belt or experiment different creative combinations to wear it around your neck by twisting, tying, looping or draping!) 
While I was looking online for scarves to gift to a dear friend, I stumbled upon Mayil Scraves. Mayil is Madavi Oliver's brain child. Madavi an engineer with a Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, followed by many years of Research at Harvard School of Public Health. In 2009 when Madavi decided to take a year's sabbatical, her heart led her to her ancestry of silk weaving. Completely enchanted by her new found love for fabrics, colors and textures she decided to follow the family tradition and started Mayil.
Let’s hear the story of Mayil from Madavi herself, “I grew up surrounded by the colors, fabrics and traditions of India. I come from a family of weavers. My cousin (Shanthi) still weaves exquisite silk sarees - one at a time. My great grandfather owned a silk saree shop (javuli kadai) in Nagercoil (southern India). I love the feel of fabric and it flows in me. Recently I decided to take the plunge and said "Goodbye Engineering - Hello Scarves" 

And if you are wondering how the name Mayil came about, she anwers that too, “Mayil means peacock in Tamil (spoken in southern India, one of the oldest surviving classical languages). Like feathers of the peacock, Mayil scarves are a kaleidoscope of colors. 18th century tailors were known to use the peacock feather as a symbol for their fine fabric creations. Add a splash of color, peacock style - be it the jewel tones of ruby red, emerald green and sapphire blue; the spice colors of turmeric, saffron, cinnamon and clove; the soft shades of jasmine and rose; or the metallic zari and shimmering sequins."
Based in Massachusetts (USA), Madavi travels to India often, to source her fabrics. Madavi thoroughly enjoys scouring the Indian textile markets for gorgeous fabrics like cotton, silk and chiffon and georgette to name a few. The jewel toned scarves range from tie&dyes, block prints of Rajasthan and Andra Pradesh, Kantha embroidery, to sequined work and tasseled beauties.These fabrics are then transformed by a group of women artisans from her rural village (back in India) who put the finishing touches on the scarves. 
Mayil's latest collection combines silk of Tamil Nadu, block prints of Andhra Pradesh and Kantha work of Bengal. Traditional block print designs have been made more elegant with kantha needlework outlining the block patterns. It doesn't get any better than this for a textile junkie does it? To pick yours today, order via Mayil's Etsy shop, or their FB page.

Image Copyright/ Credit : Mayil

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winner of the Studio Silver Paisley Giveaway !!!

It's time to announce the winner of the Studio Silver Paisley giveaway !!! I'd like to thank Seeta Koko and all those who participated in the giveaway and made this such a success.

And now, drum roll please :

Harika, please write to me at with your contact details (email and address) so that we can ship you the gorgeous pair of handcrafted Silver Blue Chalcedony earrings at the earliest:)

Enjoy your weekend !

Images: Clicked by Sruthi Singh. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day !

I'm happy that Valentine's Day coincided with a Saturday! No alarms to be set today and I have the liberty of sipping on my second cup of tea at leisure:) I woke up to these gorgeous bunch of flowers and kisses from both my men (my 8 year old and my husband)! My little guy picked these flowers out with his dad keeping in mind the colors in mom's bedroom. Now that is a very thoughtful little 8 year old, don't you think? I'm so proud to see that his aesthetics is something that he inherited from me;) 
No reds for me this Valentine's Day! It's orange all the way....

Wishing you a wonderful day with your loved ones:)

P.S. : Gentle reminder: The Studio Silver Paisley Giveaway ends today. Tomorrow we announce the winner. So if you would like to win these pair of gorgeous earring, enter the giveaway here.

Images: Clicked by Sruthi Singh. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Romancing your Home!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought this would be an apt time to broach the subject of "romancing one's home". You read that right! I do romance my home, don't you? Every time I fluff the pillows, arrange the bouquet of flowers that I so carefully picked out, layer my bed with fresh crisp white sheets, light my favorite scented candle and take in the sweet fragrance or draw the curtains and watch Mr. Sun work his Midas touch on all corners of the all makes my heart skip a beat and I seem to fall, over and over in love with this place that I call "home".....To me, my home provides the much needed psychological sustenance to live in an otherwise chaotic world !
Investing in a home is like investing in a relationship. You have to go that extra mile when it comes to devoting time and effort. And before you know it, you not only have a functional and aesthetically beautiful space to call your own but on a broader perspective, it helps to shape a lifestyle! 
I strongly suggest, let the love affair continue.......

Images: Clicked by Sruthi Singh. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pragati Sharma Mohanty (Featured Artist)

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.”  - Oscar Wilde

Artists - a whole different species according to me....Why? Because they perceive and interpret things differently from the non-artists, they find inspiration in the simplest of things that life has to offer and live to create beauty. An opportunity to understand and explore an artist’s psyche and their creative journey is fascinating to say the least and does not come by often. When  a possibility presented itself, to connect with the remarkable and  gifted, Pragati Sharma Mohanty, I was truly excited!

One of the most promising New Age Indian artists, her oeuvres are characterized by saturated colors and elaborate compositions that are visually introspective in value. Every painting is a celebration of color and is a mirror that reflects the artist's patience, dedication and honest depiction of her creative soul. Pragati draws heavily from her Indian origin but also blends her knowledge and understanding of the diverse cultures that she's experienced by living in different continents. With a Masters in Product Design from the prestigious National Institute of Design (India), the architect and product designer turned artist has exhibited her work in India and the US on numerous occasions. Some of the most note worthy exhibits being at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Research Center and at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Pragati was one amongst the only 3 artists selected for a Habitat for Humanity public art Project in Vancouver, Canada. Her creations have also been selected for CRY (Child Relief and You) and have been showcased at the world famous Times Square, New York City !

"Vrshabha" from the Animal-People Series
TECD: Hello and welcome to TECD, Pragati! I did take note of the fact of how you have highlighted the word ART in your name. Let’s begin our conversation by asking you what the word "ART" means to you?

Pragati: “Thank you for having me on TECD, Sruthi. My art is me and I am my art. It’s a way of life for me. The way I dress, cook, travel, sing, my vision and my choices in life - they are all in sync.”
A favorite of mine, "The Bull" from the Mitra series
TECD: Inspiration is what drives an artist to create. It’s no doubt that every creative individual gets asked the question about their creative stimulus in the hope that we too can draw from this piece of knowledge. What spurs your creativity?

Pragati: “I was brought up in a very culturally rich environment. My mother is a poet, a singer and an expert of Sanskrit and astrology. My maternal uncle was a sculptor - I got exposed to the studio environment very early on in life. I have strong memories of him working on huge clay statues, the smell of multani mitti & paper mache, and his engrossed expression while carving those beautiful faces and his gratified smile when the desired result was achieved.
I started learning classical music and dance when I was 5 years old. As a kid, I was fortunate to meet artists like Zakir Hussain, Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Kishori Amonkar, Shiv Kumar Sharma and many more through Spic Macay. My cousin introduced me to oil painting when I was 6 years old and my dad always told me that I have to be the best in whatever I choose to do in life. With such profound influences in my life it was hard to not get inspired. I have always had this hunger for “something else”, “something more…”

TECD: Each of your series is visually captivating. Tell us more about your creative approach and the time frame it takes to complete something as elaborate as the works that constitute your portfolio? 

Pragati: “My latest series is about animals and their significance in ancient cultures and world mythologies. Animal-people is my latest favorite subject. The way I approach a body of work is in some way similar to how I would approach a design problem. If something catches my fancy - I read up a lot about it and come up with ideas to build my story on. My art offers something more than the face value to its viewer - some deeper alternative meaning, a story or may be a mystery. It also has to abide by the principles of aesthetics, pleasing to the eye.

The Egyptian Cow Goddess - "Hathor. The attention to detail and the kaleidoscope of colors is Pragati's forte. 
As for the time frame, sometimes a painting takes months and sometimes I get so much into it that I forget everything else to finish it in a few days. When I am working on a theme I start multiple paintings simultaneously and keep hopping from one to the other. For example the Mitra series - The idea struck, I stretched five canvasses, did the drawing on all five, then the base coats, painting, detailing, finishing etc. was all done in 3 days, phew!! My back, eyes, wrist and neck did hurt a bit later - but the reward of seeing the finished work was very fulfilling. 
From the Royal Sawaari Series 
On the other hand I have this painting called ‘Samahita’ 48”X48” - that I started working on 3 years back and I am still adding details to it. Its like my studio buddy that keeps evolving with me…”

TECD: Your work has strong Indian references. Having lived abroad, I’m curious to know how has the western world influenced your work ?

Pragati: “Living abroad has given me confidence, taught me to be more disciplined and sincere. It has opened up a plethora of materials, techniques and possibilities. 

Art does evolve as one grows as a person. We learn a lot from our environment and direct influences. My themes are deeper and more subtle now, not merely superficial. I had to paint the Radha-Krishnas, Buddhas and Landscapes like any other Indian artist to find my real domain. It’s like a bridge that I had to cross. I am a self-taught artist and in a way thankful about it as I passed the unlearning phase very quickly. Dividing my time between US and India helps me to get the best of both worlds.”
Buddha and the Universe

TECD : While we are on the topic of influence and inspiration, are there others artists whose work you admire ?

Pragati : “Gustav Klimt is my favorite. I am madly in love with his works from the ‘Golden Phase’ where he used a lot of gold leaf, intricate patterns, radical themes and innovative material. My other two hugely favorite artists are Mark Rothko and Saiyad Haider Raza. The most mature works by both these artists are strongly geometrical, balanced and color centric. Rothko drew a lot from mythology and hence believed that ‘without monsters and gods, art cannot enact a drama’. I read about these artists much after being miserably attracted to their works. I unknowingly was treading the same path, philosophy-wise. I can go on and on about them…but what’s true is my heart skips a beat when I see their works. My list would be incomplete if I did not mention Frida Kahlo (my Art Goddess) and Charley Harper (the father of modern illustration, a huge inspiration).

Now when I get attracted to a work of art I read about the artist to try to figure out what was going on in their minds. And more often than not there is some synergy with my perspective towards life & art."
“Fairies and Deer" from the Landscape series

TECD: As an artist, how do you propose to contribute to the community through your art?

Pragati: “I feel that my art has a meditative quality to it. It brings strong positive vibes to the environment around it. I got invited to do two back to back shows at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital because the people who saw my works at earlier exhibitions felt that it has a positive, enriching kind of quality to it. Later I did a solo show at University of Connecticut Health Center and got great reviews. A recent contribution in the effort to improve the quality of environment through public art, I painted a mural titled 'The Prakriti Mandala: the infinite reservoir of creative energy'  for the City of Hartford, CT. I am very organically and naturally going towards ‘Art for Healing’ and that’s going to be my career path in 2015.” 

Wall Mural - "The Prakriti Mandala: the infinite reservoir of creative energy"
TECD : We at TECD admire strong willed women who follow their dreams. But we also know that the path is filled with challenges. What were the challenges that you encountered along your creative journey?

Pragati : “Convincing my husband that I can make a career out of my passion :) Isn’t that a universal thing though? 

I think commissioned works are the most challenging. When you are working for someone there is a fear of not being able to visualize the given brief. My latest commission was for a film-maker friend and it gave me several sleepless nights. Very nervously I presented it to her and thankfully she liked it." 
Commissioned work  titled "Gallop to Paradise "
TECD: Armed with your qualifications of a Bachelors Degree in Architecture and a Masters Degree in Industrial Design, do you plan to venture into other areas of design other than art?

Pragati: “As a creative person, my design education and my career as an artist are not two separate things to me. They are interconnected - it’s a symbiotic kind of relationship. I draw from everything and my work draws from me. Because of some constraints I only paint now. But eventually I do want to get into accessory design and interior design, where I can design from lifestyle products to enriching experiences. I want to be able to beautifully mess around with all the tools at hand. I have a lot of ideas waiting to be created.” 

“Annahita  and “Bhumi” from the Goddess of fertility series
TECD: You have had the opportunity of living your dream. We would love for you to share with us on how it’s never too late to answer one’s creative calling?

Pragati: “I feel that it's human nature to remain in one’s comfort zone and make excuses to not take those baby steps towards our dreams. One should be so passionate about one’s dream that there is no way around not following them. Be sincere in your efforts and be consistent too. There will be some initial glitches but the satisfaction that you get treading on ’that’ path is worth everything. Ignore the people who disagree with you a lot and embrace the motivators.”

With that we come to the end of our engaging conversation with the artistically endowed, Pragati Sharma Mohanty. If you would like to own one of Pragati's vibrant and thought provoking artworks, you could contact her via her FB page or visit her website. I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Pragati and would like to wish her all the very best in her creative voyage.

Image Credit/ Copyright :  Pragati Sharma Mohanty

Friday, February 6, 2015

Play it up with Decor Accessories!

If you thought decor accessories were there to play second fiddle in the process of interior design, well think again! Personally for me, I think decor accessories play an imperative role in making my home what it is. Accessorizing a space, let's you add color, texture, pattern, style.....Most important of it all, it let's you add spirit, memories and personality to an otherwise mundane brick and mortar structure. (I know you might argue saying good architectural bones are important and I'm not denying that. But let's just say accessories are the icing and the cherry on the cake!). It would be amiss if I didn’t quote Hattie Wolfe here, "A house is nothing without the accessories. Otherwise all you have is a room full of furniture." 

I could not think of a better way to explain the importance of decor accessories than to share the interiors of the concept store,Upstairs at PierreLafond's”. Situated in Montecito's Upper Village (CA), this place is a treasure trove of all things exclusive and exquisite. Featuring a range of inventory that includes hand picked home decor merchandise, remarkable men’s and women's lounging wear section and everything else inbetween, this place is on the must visit list should you be in the neighborhood. 

Besides their drool worthy products, its also their ever changing picture perfect store displays that keep you hooked. Whenever the place is stocked with new merchandise, the store crew does a commendable job of giving the place a new look and feel. (The store displays are put together so thoughtfully that it compels you to own everything in the store!) 

Take a look at how the same place is elevated to a whole new level with a few different touches each time........ 

Tell me you are not impressed? Now you understand what I was trying to get at. So go right ahead and curate your decor accessories thoughtfully, then layer them on, move them around to find them their place of importance, edit if need be and then stand back and see if the space reflects YOU. If not, "Keep Calm and Tweak On".......

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and happy decorating folks! 

Image Credit/Copyright : Upstairs at PierreLafond