Limited edition porcelain, miniature gardens, caricature-inspired accessories or eco-friendly lights — some savvy design options for your home. By Jackie Pinto
Toss a throw pillow by Tarun Fernandes’ with Bangalore-centric sketches on a vintage chair, top an antique lamp base with Karishma Benjamin’s bangled art, light up your garden with Manjunath Bhat’s insects, serve a celebratory meal on Nishita Thakurdas’ fine dinnerware or add a pop of greenery with Gargi Buyan’s charming miniature gardens. Meet five young entrepreneurs whose unusual pieces can perk up your interiors, define a room, brighten a corner or simply create a focal point of colour and dimension without too much effort and expense.
VERY few artists can capture the essence of old Bangalore like Paul Fernandes can. His gently humorous vignettes of life in a laid back cosmopolitan city with strong colonial influences, that was Bangalore past, resonates perfectly on useful accessories for the home. Thanks in a large part to his family — his wife Renu and his son Tarun, who is now back from the USA with a degree in marketing and economics. “From an early age, I was exposed to art at home. I also studied drawing, painting and design all through my high school years. My dad’s hilarious illustrations provided great inspiration for a potential career as an artist of some sort. But it was my mum who first set up our gallery aPaulogy and began to exhibit his predominantly watercolour illustrations of the city in the 70s,” he begins. Tarun uses his tech savviness and his innate artistic talent to come up with a range of products that are a visual delight. Wall clocks, coasters, cushion covers, mugs, coffee tables and books for the living room, fridge magnets, hook holders and note pads all bearing Paul’s distinctive art work will make you smile, add a cheery note to your kitchen or drawing room and serve as a little leaf from a distant yet distinctive past.
“Growing up around dad’s work was not just hugely entertaining but it also helped me understand the era my parents came from – the 60s, 70s and 80s,” smiles Tarun, adding, “each illustration tells a remarkable story with humourous accuracy. It even makes me want to travel back to the 70s for a weekend.” aPaulogy also stocks laptop bags that are delightfully different and sleek slings meant for fashionistas. As well as delightful coffee mugs, posters and lovingly compiled books. “The job becomes tremendously easy when you have a stunning range of finished illustrations to play around with. The design process begins with an intense brainstorming session, exploring different materials and print media, and then building a prototype that is slowly tweaked until we are reasonably happy,” he tells us.
Rs. 100 upwards. Available at aPaulogy, Clarke Road, Richards Town. Details: 8105436700
Karishma Benjamin grew up as a serial hobbyist thanks to her mum’s insistence that ‘she always put her spare time to good use’. And that is probably what motivated her to start her little venture Bangle Doodle. Benjamin operates from home, channelling her creativity and raising her
little toddler — both happily engaging tasks she enthuses.
As the name suggests, glass bangles are her base material and she uses them to turn out unusual home accents. Tea lights that twinkle in discreet corners, jewel-toned lamps that give off a warm inviting glow, wind chimes with soft mellow sounds, sun catchers that reflect iridescent pops of colour and photo frames adding a vibrant touch to a cutesy family snapshot.
Benjamin started Bangle Doodle on a whim one day when she was wondering how to make a personalised gift for family members overseas. “I was feeling particularly restless. I had quit my job at an NGO to raise my son and I made a set of tea lights with bangles I found at home. It was so well appreciated that my uncle encouraged me to go professional and presented me with 10,000 glass bangles to get me started,” she tells us.
Benjamin has a selection of wind chimes, photo-frames, lamps (both hanging and table top), tea lights and other decor essentials that are versatile enough to blend into any part of your home.
Rs. 80 upwards. Details: bangledoodle. wordpress.com
Growing up in the lush green tea plantations of Assam, Gargi Bhuyan, a software professional relocated to Bangalore and found a way to incorporate some of that missing greenery in her apartment. She started with a balcony garden. Blessed with a green thumb, her plants thrived happily enough attracting enough attention and appreciation that she was encouraged to start a blog, sharing tips and information on small gardens meant for the urban dweller.
Then she was inspired to downsize even further creating tiny landscapes that could even fit into a five-inch tea cup – gardens that could be pruned with hand scissors and raked with a kitchen fork. “They’re inexpensive, can be created in a few hours, are accessible for all ages, and appeal to seniors who have had to give up their gardens … they’re so doable,” she beams. Bhuyan adds pathways, patios, swimming pools, bird houses, picket fences, itty-bitty furniture and layered plantings from ground covers to the tiniest of trees. “The trick is to use plants that not only start out small but grow very, very slowly.
I customise each one to suit my clients taste and lifestyle. A full-size garden can weigh on you. Miniature gardens are fun to play around with. But even in her magical world of miniature gardens, Bhuyan is a realist. She likes to set a scene, leave out the Barbie or other dolls (a miniaturist trend, too) and create a garden that she’d love to be in herself. Now, if only she could get her hands on Alice’s shrinking potion.
Prices start at Rs. 500. Details: email@example.com
Working out of his cozy Anamik Design studio, freelance architect Manjunath Bhat ‘combines art and science to create lamps inspired by modular geometry and Archimedian solids’. Artfully named OWL (objects with light), his designs are functional, aesthetically pleasing and extremely eco-friendly. You could possibly even eat off them since they are made from food contact safe materials with absolutely no plasticisers. Perfectly suited to modern contemporary spaces, they are also durable, hardy and easy to maintain. “Just give them a quick clean up with soap and water,” says thegraduate from the Manipal Institute of Technology, who worked for eight years in the industry, then used his knowledge of three-dimensional geometry to simulate designs through 3D software although his journey began with origami experimentation. “I began by making lights by interlocking paper without using any elements of glue,” he tells us, elaborating that his first platform was the Sunday Soul Sante in town.
Now Bhat’s Jimli de Moi (ant)designs are an extention of his saillo (spider) series and as the name suggests, inspired by ants and spiders. “All it takes is pistachio shells, strip LEDs, two red chandan seeds, a discarded mouse cover, a 200 watt bulb, a part of a soft drink bottle, steel wire, glue and coir to make a lamp entirely out of recycled material to make these insect like designs that are quite perfect for gardens and outdoor spaces,” he explains.
Look out for OWL moving beyond light (into Objects With Out Light ). Ceiling panels, partitions, blinds and other accessories for interior spaces.
Prices range from Rs. 400 to Rs. 20,000. Details: owl-objectswith-light.blogspot.com
Graphic designer turned fine tableware designer, Nishita Thakurdas has her sights set on becoming India’s answer to Wedgewood, the British pottery brand known for impeccable elegance and quality.
It was a college freelance project for a boutique home store that got Thakurdas hooked to the thrill of designing fine tableware. “I will never forget the very first set I designed. It had breakfast, lunch and dinner times beautifully inscribed with handcrafted Roman numerals. Ever since I designed those plates, I fell in love with the idea of using ceramics as medium of expression,” she begins.
After 12 years of working in corporate branding with the likes of Arvind, Aegon Religare, Network 18 and Miranda, Thakurdas decided to quit and launch her own porcelain brand. “Once I made the decision, things fell into place quickly. I contacted manufacturers, sent out my designs, made samples and set the whole process in motion. Each collection is Limited Edition, not mass produced. Thus each piece is a collectible meant to be handed down generations. We do not compromise on quality and use the finest porcelain for a smooth and flawless glaze and refined translucency,” she explains.
An intrepid traveller who ‘lives to travel’, Thakurdas says her designs are contemporary, global yet firmly rooted in Indian aesthetics and artistic history. “And I especially love using rani pink and indigo blue that are so quintessentially Indian,” she signs off.
Rs. 35,000 for a six person set. At Whitefield. By appointment only. Details: 9886056665