Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I have gorgeous memories of growing up in Bangalore, and one of them is my mum bringing home massive bunches of fresh flowers every other day. We had a small city apartment back then with no garden; now thankfully, mama Shetty has a massive garden in to tend to all year round which keeps her pretty busy. But I got so used to seeing a zingy bit of greenery around the house that it makes me a little sad that I have no plants at home these days. Since I travel so much and am the opposite of green-fingered (black-thumbed??) it seems too cruel to buy plants only for them to fill our bin liner the following week. My solution is fake flowers. I know, I know, they seem beyond tacky. But hold the phone. These days, you can buy flowers that are so realistic, I bet you'll have your nose wedged in them to get a whiff of their scent before you twig (pun very much intended) that they're fake

One of the best places to get faux flowers is from interior designer Abigail Ahern. I went on one of her design masterclasses the other day, held in her jawdroppingly stunning London home, and all around the house she had massive jugs filled with flowers so pretty I had no idea they were fake. Yeah they're a little pricey, but remember that they never die and you'll probably move house eight times before you even contemplate getting rid of them. For me, I'd probably opt for the hydrangeas - big fat luscious blooms are so my thing - though these dusty pink roses are stunn.


Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm feeling all things tribal at the moment. This chunky red and blue necklace (right) I picked up in Jaipur last year has been getting a lot of wear as it seems to go with pretty much anything (excuse the shoddy image of my jewellery stand but a combo of lack of sleep and no proper camera mean that my photo skillz aren't up to scratch today). 

So I'm super excited about the Asia House Fair next month in London as it showcases products from around Asia (mostly northern Asia - India and China, and countries along the old Silk Route). There will be a whole bunch of artists and designers, but I'm particularly excited about the Adivasi Arts Trust, who showcase little-seen tribal art from around India, and Sweetlime, who make the sexist tribal meets contemporary gold jewellery.  

£575, Sweetlime

£92, Sweetlime
£147, Sweetlime

Adivasi Arts Trust

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I just did a little time travel. Looking for some vintage posters to buy, I found these two vintage Indian tourism advertisements on Zazzle and I was instantly zipped back into time through the uber-stylised 1930s graphics and the crisp, sparse copy.

Though it often feels like we're bombarded by advertising these days, I still love checking out old print adverts just because it's the quickest way to remind ourselves of the design aesthetic of an era. Adverts are by nature super-zeitgeisty and they need to capture the look, feel and mood of the time they're created in, whether that's the make-do-and-mend domesticity of the 1950s or the razzle-dazzle glamour of the 1970s.

I particularly love this Air Force on because my uncle was vice-commodore in the Indian Air Force (and his son and son-in-law are in the Air Force too now).

Bata sandals were what every kid ran around in when I was growing up in India as they're super sturdy.
I really want to try and find a print of this coffee advert. I'm a coffee-holic for a start, and this image of a family crammed on to a scooter is so iconic of India.

This is from an old calendar, and I can never get over how pretty these old images of hindu gods are.

Monday, March 11, 2013


So I was trying to find you some sneak previews from Lakme Fashion Week, one of India's biggest fashion events, that kicks off next week, but the folks over at LFW aren't sharing much in the way of preview images (though there is this slightly surreal blog you can have a look at). Then, while meandering through the rabbit hole that is the internet, I came across Kenzo's show at Paris Fashion Week, and stumbled on both this eye-popping set of images of singer M.I.A from French magazine Jalouse and the 8-minute 'Matangi Mixtape' she made for Kenzo's runway show. The music mix (click here to listen, trust me, you'll love it) is a taster of her forthcoming album 'Matangi' out this April. 'Matangi', by the way, is a kickass hindu goddess who is an avatar of Saraswati, the goddess of music and learning (geeky Indian kids pray to her before going to school; having said that, I was a geeky Indian kid too but the only altar I ever prayed at was my stack of Phantom comic books).

Photo credit: Jalouse, photographer Romain Gavras

Sri-Lankan born M.I.A's fashion sense is as genuine an East-West fusion as her music (Matangi is a blood-pumping mash-up of tribal thumping, bass bumping, sanskrit vocalising, which I'm planning to play at top volume to get me going in the morning). Like her, it's bold, but even if her music or clothes aren't your thing, it works because it's a fairly unapologetic and chaotic mix. There's no treading lightly to try and find harmony; instead, it's the discordance, the slightly jaggedness of it all that works.

Photo credit: Jalouse, photographer Romain Gavras

Photo credit: Jalouse, photographer Romain Gavras

Matangi, by Rajiv Lochan

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Most women squeal a little when they enter fashion designer Sabyasachi's store in South Mumbai. First, there's probably the delirium at actually finding the store since it's tucked away on a dusty Mumbai side street - a typically Indian 'you have to know it's there' location. Every time I go in there though, it's not the gorgeous clothes that set my heart racing (and believe me, his stuff is so beautiful you'd sell your grandmother to buy it) but the interior design of the store. Check. it. out.

A lot of the stuff is for sale, making it a happy double whammo for your wallet.

Here's the man himself, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, with actress Rani Mukherji, a la Frida Kahlo, in his store for a Vogue shoot.

Photo credit: Vogue India
This is one of his 2011 Frida Kahlo-esque creations.

If you clicked on the link to Sabyasachi's name, you might see that the website is still under construction. If it looks like anything from these mood boards below by advertising firm Grinning Tree, it is going to be as hot as his store.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Ok I'm guilty of it myself. Travelling to a hot exotic climate, stuffing my suitcase full of trinkets bought in a blur of colour and excitement, and then displaying my purchases proudly at home, sort of like the decor equivalent of lugging home a mounted animal head as bounty from a shoot.

Nothing wrong with collecting mementos, but when it comes to Indian design, it's so easy to stick to the shorthand of paisley pattern/mirror work/sari fabric/elephant motif. So far, so blah. I know this makes me sound like a right old judgemental bat, but whenever I read the words "Indian-inspired" in relation to home decor, I can pretty much tell you every element of the room. Yes there's a reason that the same old embroidered cushion covers or random batik scarves are bought so often - it feels like a quick way to get an Indian look. It's also boring as hell and, well, it's just so unstylish to mimic a look rocked by a thousand hippies before you. 

If you're in love with the Goa hippy chic look, though, then ignore me and go to it! As for me, I'd rather mix it up a little, both to make it more contemporary, but also to ensure that there's personality shining through in how it's styled.

The key to this distinctly non-blah look is to take the elements of Indian design and throw in something totally different. The framed Indian images in these images below from Elle Decor look super modern when set against a tomato red (Indian houses tend to have white walls so painting walls in bold colours immediately updates the look). Meanwhile, the room next to it has a definite Indian flavour but it's brought out more in rich Indian colours than in actual product design (though that dude on the cushion is definitely Indian - just check out the 'tache!).

Photo credit: Elle Decor

Polka dots work brilliantly here to off-set the more traditional coffee table and footstools.

Photo credit: Elle Decor

Photo credit: Elle Decor

If you don't love shocking blasts of colour, don't worry, Indian design really doesn't have to be as rainbow-hued as you might think from this blog. In this Calcutta apartment featured in Elle Decor, below, the unfinished plaster walls and ceramic plate display (both of which have a European rather than Indian flavour) merge beautifully with the more Indian vibe of the rest of the room.

Next up is a Bangalore apartment featured on lifestyle blog (one of my all-time favourites), Apartment Therapy. The place really makes my heart skip a happy little beat - it's stunning, Indian, and yet very contemporary at the same time. J'adore.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Ooh I do like a good bargain. Kooky fashion house NorBlack NorWhite have a spring sale on so scoot on over to their online shop right now to snap them up. Some of the super hawt stuff has sold out already, but these pretties below are still in stock. The thing I love most about their stuff is that they're a little mad but very wearable - I have no time for fashion lines that make anyone over 30 look like they've escaped a loony bin.

Green jumpsuit on sale for US$120, was US$240

Orange pantaloons US$160, was US$260

US$80, not technically on sale, but so pretty who cares?

Kimono, US$185

Thursday, February 28, 2013


As a rule, I love design that packs a punch. Giant prints seem much more contemporary to me than the slightly old lady-ish delicate patterns. Indian-born painter Shirin Sahba has totally busted my preconceptions with her paintings that are like miniatures blown up. Sahba (who looks like a 1960s film star herself, check out pics of her below) and her husband have lived all over the world, and her art is inspired by places like Morocco, India and China, all of which have a long history of intricately detailed artwork. It's fitting that for her own apartment in Beijing, she commissioned an Indian miniature artist to draw an enormous painting that hangs over her bed. Check out more of her art here, and ogle her apartment here. If you want to buy her paintings, and I guarantee you'll covet most of them when you see them, email Shirin directly.

'Wanderlust grips the Maharani'


Shirin Sahba
Sahba's Beijing apartment, featured on Design Sponge.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Indian design geniuses Play Clan created a quirky set of maps of Delhi for the Indian Design ID 2013 symposium held in Delhi last week (15 - 17 Feb). I challenge you to visit Play Clan's site and not want to buy most of their stock that has super hot stylised Indian imagery on it (plus they ship internationally, hurrah!). Even if you don't buy anything, their free e-cards (or as they put it a 'Greeting without Meeting') of Indian city maps are pretty adorable. My favourite is the watercolour vibe of the Kochi map.





Things may get a little bridal on this blog as I'm getting married in July (squeal!). Don't worry, I don't have the bridezilla gene. If I have any virtues, it's that even in extreme pressure, my heart rate rarely goes over 65 (which came in handy when I was a news editor). The other thing is that I can't bring myself to fret over flowers or invitations, or worry about which guests need to be seated far away from another. If grown adults want to act like gimps at family reunions, that's their business as far as I'm concerned. Luckily as it's a small affair of about 100 people (ok, so the title of this post was slightly deceiving, but hey, you need a good headline to hook people in dont'cha?) everyone pretty much knows and loves everyone else.

As I write this, I'm slightly mopey about the fact that just a couple of days ago, I was in Bombay with my sister at the tail end of a chaotic holiday to shop for my wedding dress, and go to a cousin's wedding in Bangalore. A week later, and I've got my dress and matching jewellery tucked up at home. What's more, I snagged a boatload of jaw-droppingly gorgeous silk fabric from Crawford Market in South Mumbai to decorate my venue with. A word on Crawford Market - don't even dream about setting foot near it unless you have the stamina of an ox, and enough patience to withstand people waving all manner of crap in your face in the hope that you'll buy the towels/calendars/underwear/rattles/guitars they are selling. Once you've made it through, and trust me, you'll feel like you've broken into Mordor, there are endless stalls selling fabric so pretty and so ridiculously cheap (about $3 a metre), you'll go nuts. Well we did, anyway, and it took several vodka cocktails to recover. My cousin's wedding in Bangalore, on the other hand, really WAS a big fat Indian wedding, and I'll write about that asap as my brain is still processing the five day shindig with 5000 guests.

I'll post pics of all these goodies very soon, but for now, they're still sitting in Bangalore waiting for my Dad to cart them back for me. In the meantime, feast your eyeballs on the stuff by a sweet little online company called Zarbaft sold only through their Facebook site. It's got a lovely vintage 1970s vibe, very Zeenat Aman, and pretty reasonably priced too.

Zeenat, in all her 1970s glory.

Love this shade of green, plus the style hides batwings (ie, flubby triceps) too; Image: Zarbaft
Price on enquiry at Zarbaft

Rs 40,000 or about UK£500; Zarbaft