Art for the Home and Hearth, Business Line, Oct 2013

This article, published in the Home & Style supplement of The Hindu Business Line, talks about how art is making its way into more homes, including those in middle-class and salaried families. The focus is on the change in people’s attitude towards art, and a growing inclination towards spending more on different forms of art. Interviews with an art collector, a gallery owner, and the owner of a boutique that sells home decor items, are woven in. Also, a box story provides tips for the first-time collector on how to select/ buy art pieces.

Janaki Hrishikesh, a Chennai resident, still remembers the first painting she brought. “It was a scene of Krishna’s rasaleela. We had just bought a house and were looking to decorate it. The painting practically drew us to it,” she says.

Back then, in 1997, she paid Rs 1,500 for the piece, which measures 12” by 36”. Over the years, she has decorated her home with varied forms of art — from paintings and murals to masks, applique and embroidered works.

Until a couple of decades back, art was considered the forte of the rich, especially those who lived in big houses with ample space to display their collections. The scene has changed considerably — now, even middle-class, salaried families are keen to invest in art. Moreover, spending has increased as well. Janaki says she spends up to Rs 10,000 for a painting, and up to Rs 2,000 on a craft item such as a mask if it is exceptional. She adds that she is willing to put down even Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh for pieces made of marble or wood

(The article continues – read it in full at the Business Line website: Art for the Home and Hearth)

(Box story: Tips for the novice collector)

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Architectural Anachronism is Good, Business Line, Aug 2013

This article, published in the Home & Style supplement of The Hindu Business Line, talks about the traditional style of architecture adopted by a couple who built their home in Chennai. The article looks at the inspiration for the unique features incorporated in the interior design, and problems faced during construction. The tone is kept light and focuses more on a personal telling of a home-builder’s views rather than an account of the ‘technical’ details.

Nestled in a corner of a small lane that branches off from East Coast Road, Ramesh and Priya’s (names changed) house reminds one of ancestral homes in Karaikudi. “Some of our friends ask us if this house is hundred years old,” smiles Priya as she greets me at the door.

There are raised platforms or “thinnais” near the steps leading to the doorway, reminding one of scenes from R. K. Narayan’s novels. Sunlight streams in from the roof down to the central courtyard, which is bounded by thick pillars. “The courtyard is a common feature not only in traditional Indian homes, but also in Italy and France,” says Ramesh, Priya’s husband.

Ramesh and Priya lived in the US for several years before deciding to move back to Chennai. About five years ago, the couple asked an architect based in Pondicherry to create the blueprint. The house was built over three-and-a-half years.

(The article continues – read it in full at the Business Line website: Architectural Anachronism is good)

Bee that as it may, Business Line, Oct 2012

A look into how honey bees have found their way into fashion and art – beginning with a mention of Sarah’s Burton’s bee-themed collection for Alexander McQueen during the recent Paris Fashion Week. The thrust of the article deals the Hyatt Regency Chennai’s honey bee-centric art theme display, which was the inspired by a need to spread the message that honey bees are dwindling in numbers. A box item details the reason as to why the honey bee is an important part of our ecosystem. The article was published in (The Hindu) Business Line on October 26 in the Weekend Life section.

In the recently concluded Paris Fashion Week, designer Sarah Burton showcased models wearing honeycomb-latticed boots, head gear modelled on apiculturists’ hats, and elaborate evening dresses with blooms and bee detailing. As Sarah, who designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, said later, “It was looking at womanhood and embracing the female form. I wanted it to feel sensual. I wanted to have a lightness to it and I wanted it to feel erotic but not in an overly fleshy kind of way.”

Closer home, the Hyatt Regency in Chennai recently hosted a three-day fest centred on bee inspired art pieces. About four years ago, Namita Saraf (hotelier Arun Saraf’s wife) and Rajeev Sethi (designer and chairman of Asian Heritage Foundation) were standing at the erstwhile Abbotsbury in Chennai, which was later acquired by the Sarafs’ Hyatt Group. There, they saw huge bee hives hanging from beams that were part of the former structure. Rather than being scared away by the thought of painful stings, Namita wondered “if the bees are telling us something”.

(The article continues. Read the full article at the Business Line website: Bee that as it may & Bee-gone)

Suit yourself, man!, Business Line, Jul 2012

This article was published as a cover feature in the Weekend Life supplement of The Hindu Business Line on 20 July 2012 . Based on an interview with Paresh Lamba, one of India’s top Indian men’s fashion designers, the article talks about his work, the changing face of fashion in India, and why he doesn’t design for women.

What is the best thing a man can wear? According to fashion designer Paresh Lamba, it is a classic suit. He says that’s what women want, too. “I ask women what they think… any woman would say that a man looks best in a suit. A jacket takes a man from ordinary to extraordinary. You could be in a crowd wearing a shirt… you wear a nice suit and suddenly you stand out. I am always telling men, ‘You should have jackets’. Overplay it, don’t underplay it.”

And when Lamba speaks, men listen. One of India’s leading men’s designers, he is sought after by top-notch corporates, actors and even politicians to add a dash of style to their wardrobe. If you thought former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa looked well-attired during the 2010 Global Investors Meet in Bangalore, the credit goes to Lamba.

We meet at his flagship store located on Bangalore’s upmarket MG Road. There is a buzz of energy around him, surely from a passion for what he does. “I enjoy creating something new every day that makes somebody look good. That is my adrenaline,” he says.

He developed interest in fashion at an early age — “I was enamoured by clothes as a kid” — but didn’t plan a career in designing clothes. He found his father’s business, production and distribution of films, “boring” and instead set out to become a shoe designer. “I was going to set up a factory near Delhi. I got my land and loans approved for a joint venture with an Italian company.”

But after a visit to his cousin’s shoe store in Bangalore, he changed his mind in favour of a clothes business. He decided to focus on menswear: “I started going out, meeting people… I saw exquisitely dressed women, but men who needed help.”

That was in the early 1990s — when fashion, let alone couture and bespoke, wasn’t exactly a buzz word on the street. Lamba’s decision was met with scepticism. “My father said, ‘What the hell are you getting into?’” he recalls with a grin.

(The article continues. Read the full article at the Business Line website: Suit yourself, man!)

Fall In Love, Singapore Women’s Weekly, Oct 2010

This 4-page beauty feature was published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly magazine in October 2010. The article is centred on Elettra Wiedemann, famous model and daughter of Isabella Rossellini, who was chosen as the face of Lancôme’s Trésor In Love perfume.

The article talks about the fragrance, which is a reinvention of Lancôme’s Trésor (introduced in 1990) – for which Elettra’s mother was the model. The article brief traces Elettra’s journey towards becoming one of the world’s top models (which was almost thwarted by a severe back problem), up to her being chosen as the face of Trésor In Love.

Alongside the main article is a brief on the latest beauty products by Lancôme.

(To minimise plagiarism, I have not put up the scanned articles in their full resolution – if you like a copy of this article, kindly email me at yamini.vasudevan@gmail.com and I will get back to you within 2 working days.)

Bringing Luxury to Your Doorstep, Singapore Women’s Weekly, Oct 2010

This 3-page lifestyle feature was published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly magazine in October 2010. The article is centred on Natalie Massenet, the women who altered the world of shopping with Net-a-Porter.com – an online boutique that specialises in luxury designer wear and accessories for women.

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