Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ethnic-Bohemian Symphony (Home Tour)

Today, we travel all the way to Edmonton, Alberta in Canada to tour the beautiful home of Shivangi and Naren. Shivangi currently juggles a full time job as an Inventory Management Associate and a CPA, while Naren works in the mental health field. Both trained Bharatanatyam dancers and actively involved in various Indian cultural activities, they also share a passion for home decorating. The couple describes their style of decorating as “Ethnic-Bohemian, with a touch of contemporary”. This style of decorating marries traditional ethnic art, pots of lush greens, rich jewel tones with an abundance of flickering mood light.
Let's start with this charming zen corner. One of the very first purchases that made it to the Shivangi's list of must-haves, this Buddha statue from Pier1 was love at first sight. Shivangi says, "In fact, I saw this piece in the store, way before we had bought our home. But the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew it would have a very special place in my home. To make the most of the corner space, we used wall decals to create a Bodhi tree effect." Apart from Pier1, Art&Light, GoodEarth, Fabindia, Chumbak and Harabu House feature in the couple's list of favorite decor stores.
 The brass Nataraja Statue was a thoughtful gift from a loved one. It sits pretty on the TV console echoing the couple's love for dance. 
Shivangi declares the living room as their favorite haunt to lounge and relax,"Every single piece of furniture and decor was purchased after much deliberation. We took our time to decorate our first home together and didn't rush to fill up the empty spaces."

Shivangi's collection of decor accessories revolves around brass figurines and elephants and horses of various sizes and materials. Clockwise from top-right: The brass tonga was also a gift from a loved one. The brass vilakkus are heirloom treasures passed down to Shivangi from her mother-in-law. Extreme-left : The Ambari Elephant from Mysore was a parting gift from one of Naren's dance students. 

Quoting Shivangi,"Naren and I really enjoy decorating our place with souvenirs from our vacations, gifts from dear ones, and various memorabilia. I feel like it adds more personality and charm to a home, especially when each article has a story to tell. When you live in country like Canada, where 75% of the year is spent in -20 degrees weather, you're left with no other option but to bring the outside indoors. I try to achieve this by owning lots of house plants (much to my husband's dismay), and incorporating fresh flowers every now and then."
Artifacts from Sri Lanka too add to the decor drama at home. Tapestries depicting Kandyan dancers grace the walls of the formal dining room. Another decor favorite seems to be the masks from Sri Lanka, "Naren and I had a layover at the Colombo airport en-route to Maldives for our honeymoon. We made the most of our time by checking out the handicraft stores run by the Sri Lankan government. We were told that each of these masks have a different meaning. The larger mask that hangs in our living room is said to banish enemies and invite friendships, so apt for our new home."
The couple's South Indian roots are reflected in their kitchen menu that features filter coffee, masala dosa and elaichi kufi for dessert.
The master bedroom is a calming retreat done up in shades of taupe and azule with shades of white as a highlight hue. More candles and fresh potted plants complete the look.  

Thank you Shivangi and Naren for reaching out to TECD and letting us tour your beautiful abode. We wish you all the very best!

(Image Credit: Shivangi and Naren, Please do NOT use the images without the prior written permission of the home owners) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Freedom Tree has me dreaming of Spring.....

I am so done with the snow and the snow storms that have engulfed my part of the world. I long for fresh-calming greens, pure pastels and the fragrant air of spring blossoms......I found my virtual escape route through "Freedom Tree". The India based décor line revels in the fact that their product line is truly unique with a fresh approach to mid-century modern style of design. Clean line furniture, fresh color palettes, imaginative patterns and peppy prints animate their entire product range. In their own words, “The studio's spirit is to celebrate modern India as a vibrant design destination - it is a thumbprint against standardization. Loveable and fun products make everyday living beautiful celebrating a freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of being. Welcome to the world of good design every day; constantly evolving and stimulating the freedom to have fun!”

Here are some of my absolutes favorites from their collection:

To see their entire collection, click here.

(Image Courtesy/Credit: Freedom Tree)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spotlight on the Genesis of “Soumeiran” and their latest jewelry collection “Shaarada”

"Soumeiran", the UK based jewelry brand, harmoniously blends that which is old and new. Taking traditions and heritage of ineffable India and translating that into the style needs of the woman of today is an effortless undertaking for the lady behind the brand, Suchitra Hattangudi Gulvady. Professionally trained in Applied Arts from Mumbai, Suchitra has the combined expertise of being a graphic designer with various e-learning companies and that of being an illustrator with apparel companies. Suchitra is a one woman team when it comes to Soumeiran. She handles all tasks associated with conceptualizing to sourcing, designing to making, photographing to editing, and  advertising and logistics!  
Her jewelry creations for Soumeiran are heavily influenced by her Indian ethnicity. Her deeply ingrained and insatiable love for India’s indigenous arts, crafts and textiles has just grown stronger having lived away from India for so long. Quoting Suchitra, “The renaissance and revival that these industries are going through, along with people becoming more aware and appreciative and endorsing these industries’ works, paired with the brilliance of everything accessible on the internet, makes me think it’s one of the best of times ever to belong here and work with.” Although India is her main pool for inspiration, her designs also exhibit a streak of her experiences living overseas and the exposure to global art, culture and history. 
TECD : Welcome to TECD Suchitra! Let’s start by asking you what does Soumeiran mean?

Suchitra: I would like to start with a warm and heartfelt thank you to Sruthi and TECD for sharing this amazing platform to showcase Soumeiran to its wonderful audience. It is a delight and an honor, to say the least. 

The name Soumeiran (soo – mee – run) is an excerpt from Sanskrit translating to mean prayer beads strung together. 
TECD: Tell us more about your creative journey into the field of jewelry designing?

Suchitra : Soumeiran, if I may say so, is serendipity personified. Having lived away from home for about eleven years now, brought with it starting life from scratch, finding my own feet in a foreign land, a great deal of independence but also responsibility, the biggest of all was of having my own family. As much as it is exhilarating and amazing to have all that, it was at times quite daunting! Being from a creative background I reached a point when I just HAD TO get back in touch with my creative side as routine was getting frustrating and I needed a getaway. Some kind of liberation. Something that I could call and tend to as only my own! I have always wanted to paint but having two very young children meant having very little time left for myself to pursue it. One day I breezed through Google looking for silver jewelry for myself. I have always loved silver jewelry and chanced upon some online stores based in the Far East. I happened to buy some for myself and was amazed at its quality and craftsmanship. I started researching more about various styles of jewelry and the process that went into making them. Obviously the first stop was of Indian genre. I then embarked on this search for material, and I got drawn into it quite quickly. So much so that I got hooked. Before I knew it, I had ordered my first small lot of silver, followed soon by gemstones. I taught myself how to make the pieces and I thoroughly enjoyed making them. It was meditative, to say the least. I have never looked back since. 
TECD: What would you say is the USP of Soumeiran? 

Suchitra: The ethos of Soumeiran is to represent exquisite, original and creative work through quality craftsmanship. We extensively work with silver and gemstones combined into one of a kind jewelry/wearable art. We primarily source on the lines of the temple jewelry genre, bringing forth highly exquisite craftsmanship and stunning design motifs that date way back into time, only to be rediscovered and given a contemporary twist. Right from the conception of Soumeiran, we have emphasized on amalgamating colors in the form of genuine gemstones with our silver. As much as silver is the heart and soul of Soumeiran, the use of genuine, quality gemstones from highly trusted sources is what brings in a totality. We can’t stress enough on the use of honest components, however little or big they are. Thus each piece is made to last a lifetime because of the same. 

TECD: Flamboyant statement pieces that lend an air of bold yet feminine flair to any outfit. Who according to you is the ideal Soumeiran woman?

Suchitra: The ideal Soumeiran woman is one who has a very keen eye for design and color; one who is a seeker for something new, unusual and different; one who has a deep connection with her roots and yet enjoys all that is modern and finally, the most important, being someone who wears her jewelry with pride.
TECD: What would you say has been your most memorable experience w.r.t. Soumeiran?

Suchitra: To be honest, it can’t be put down to one but many memorable experiences since Soumeiran came into existence. Without sounding patronizing, it would have to be every single person I have bonded with through Soumeiran. There are some amazing women here in the UK and across the globe, who I otherwise wouldn’t have had the pleasure of even knowing! As if we all are bound by the same invisible thread, we connect through our common love for design, arts and crafts. I will utterly cherish this all my life, and I am sure I have made these connections for ever. 
TECD: Suchitra, your latest collection Shaarada, is truly one of a kind! We’d like to know more about the Bor Maal’ beads that are extensively used in this collection? 

Suchitra: The collection – Soumeiran Shaarada, that I am so thrilled to be showcased on TECD revolves around this century old (so I have been told) technique of making silver bi-cone shaped beads that were used to make a traditional style of necklace in the Western parts of India, called the ‘Bor Maal’ (string of berries / berry shaped beads). This labor intensive technique has been painstakingly yet successfully carried out by skilled craftsmen to make these beads, which we were fortunate enough to source, after seeking them for a long time and almost giving up hope on them ever to be made, because of it being so laborious and almost unattainable. We have used some really select gemstones – Golden Obsidian, Larvikite, Chrome Diopside, Turquoise (not Howlite!) and Lapis Lazuli along with temple motif silver amulets and pendants to make one of a kind neck wear pieces. 

TECD: The cult following that you have in such a short period of time is admirable to say the least. What has been your success mantra as a small business owner? 

Suchitra : I suppose, fulfillment thereby success lies in being true to yourself and your work, what you showcase. There’s a big audience out there who highly appreciates and really values genuine, honest work and one must always strive to work towards that, and only that will make you stand out, get noticed. It is also a much happier place to be in where a healthy, positive atmosphere is maintained between fellow artists and makers, and honest, good work is always mutually encouraged and appreciated. Lastly, success and humility have to go hand in hand! 
TECD: On a concluding note, tell us what’s next on the charts for Soumeiran? 

Suchitra: I hope the future holds great promise for Soumeiran – we will continue to showcase like we always have, some completely new designs straight from the source – be it ear wear, neck-piece range or maybe something else that has always been highly received by the audience. We hope to build some amazing connections with more connoisseurs of handmade jewelry and crafts, and that Soumeiran stays on a joyous ride like always!

A stunning collection won't you agree? Personally what I love about Soumeiran is that each piece is truly one-of-a-kind -individually crafted to mirror the personality of its wearer. Soumeiran ships worldwide. To get your piece of Soumeiran, please email Suchitra at for your copy of the catalog/lookbook or connect with her via Soumeiran's Facebook page

Thank you Suchitra, it was a pleasure connecting with you! My TECD readers and I, wish you all the very best in your creative endeavor.....

(Image Credit/Courtesy: Soumeiran)