Monday, 30 January 2012

Confessions of a designer




The other day I came across this quote on Décor 8. It’s such a simple quote, but for me, I think quite profound. It got me doing some self introspection and I thought I would pen down some of my thoughts.


Let me start by confessing that one of my biggest weaknesses is my aversion to change. I know there are some people who embrace change and all things new- I am not one of those people. New technology frightens me-my mobile phone is 6 years old and I will replace it when it stops working. New, unfamiliar situations like taking on a somewhat challenging project that’s outside my comfort zone makes me feel like I’m no longer in control.

I know it’s a bit contradictory for me, a designer, to have such a dislike for change when change and innovation is what we as designers do. But it’s something I have to constantly work through. And it’s not easy.

Do you ever get this awful shrinking, queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have to start out on a new endeavor? I do. It’s usually before I take on a new project. Don’t get me wrong, there’s excitement too, but that sense of apprehension, dread and self doubt is always there clawing away. Apprehension over how I will manage and orchestrate the entire project, dread over all the issues that I know will pop up and self doubt over whether I’m good enough. The task ahead seems like a huge, insurmountable mountain that’s taking immense pleasure from my squirming discomfort. I think that’s why I took a liking to this quote, because the funny thing is, once I actually get started on the task, the mountain seems to gradually shrink and I realize that in spite of all the challenges, I got things done and I laugh about why I felt so intimidated by it in the first place.

And so I strut around with a an air of cockiness until the phone rings and there is a new project in the works that’s more complicated and challenging than the last and the entire cycle begins once again. Only this time I’m slightly less frightened and a little more confident of the whole ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’ that’s part of every project.

I have now saved this quote as my wallpaper, so the next time I ‘do battle’ with the mountain I’ll remember to have a quick glance at the quote, breathe and embrace the task at hand.



Thursday, 26 January 2012

Another one of my lists- My all time favorite chairs

There are certain pieces of furniture that have over time achieved iconic status. Over the decades they have been able to capture the imagination of the masses because of their design as well as their functionality. These pieces have a timeless quality, they are instantly recognizable and, I think, will never really go out of style.

While browsing the net I came across a book- 50 Chairs That Changed the World, by The Design Museum, a place I have been lucky enough to visit while I was in London. It got me thinking about what are my favorite chairs and so I had an excuse to come up with another one of my lists. So here goes… my picks for the top 10 chairs of the 20th and 21st century.

10. 1006 Navy  Side Chair by Emeco
This light weight, corrosion-resistant chair made from Aluminum has been in production since 1944 and is an American classic. It has gained popularity with architects and designers the world over. Recently Emeco has also collaborated with Coca Cola to create 111 Navy, an almost identical chair using 111 plastic bottles.



1006 Navy Chair by Emeco



111 Navy Chair by Emeco


9. Egg-Chair by Arne Jacobsen
Designed in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen, the sensual curves of this design make it incredibly attractive and incredibly comfortable. Its design gives the user a sense of privacy and almost womb-like security owing to the design of its back which extends round the sides to provide a screening effect.






8. Ron Arad, Tom Vac Chair
When compared to some of the heavyweights on this list, this chair may seem like a bit of a minnow. However, it’s simple and ergonomic design has made this unpretentious chair a classic.





7. Chair 3107 by Arne Jacobsen
I think this chair is perfect in its simplicity. Designed in 1952, its elegant curves took the design world by storm.





6. Scandia Senior Easy Chair by Hans Brattrud
Designed in 1957 as part of the Scandia collection, consisting of the Scandia Junior dining chair, Scandia Nett lounge chair and the Scandia Senior easy chair, the chairs fell out of production in the 70’s. It is back once again through the efforts of Fjordfiesta who have worked closely with Hans Brattrud to recreate this Scandinavian icon. My favorite is the Scandia Senior Easy Chair.





5. Eames Longue Chair by Charles & Ray Eames
This is a classic the world over. Designed in 1956 and influenced by the traditional lounge chairs seen in English gentleman’s clubs, it is designed for comfort. This chair combines the use of materials and craftsmanship of the highest quality.





4. LC3 Armchair by Le Corbusier
Made from a tubular chrome frame and with its plush leather cushions, there is only one word that can best describe this chair- gorgeous. Although it was designed in 1928, this chair could occupy pride of place in any contemporary space and not look out of place.







3. Hans Wegner’s 3 legged Shell CH 07 Chair
Han’s Wegner is one of the pioneers of the Danish Modern Movement. His 3 legged Shell CH07 Chair was introduced in 1963, but only a few limited series were produced. After more than 30 years it made a breakthrough comeback in the late 90’s. I think this chair is incredibly modern and incredibly sexy with its low body and sleek curves. It is also fabulously crafted.





2. Barcelona Chair, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, 1929
This chair epitomizes Mies Van Der Rohe’s motto of ‘less is more’. Along with Corbusier’s Chaise Longue, it is probably one of the most recognizable pieces of furniture the world over. The seductive lines and sculptural quality of the chair make it one of the most beautiful chairs ever designed.





1. Le Corbusier, LC4 Chaise Longue, 1928
This modern take on a chaise longue has to be the one chair that I would die for. It’s hard to believe that this chair was designed almost a century ago- it looks futuristic even today. The lazy curve of its form is perfectly suggestive of its function. It is a chair that just makes you want to lay back and relax.




So that was my Top 10 list of the most iconic chairs designed over the past century. Would love to hear from you about which ones are yours.











Happy Republic Day India!

As India celebrates its 63rd Republic Day lets celebrate the spirit of a proud and free India.

Happy Republic Day!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Playful and Quirky Ceramics at Monkey Business

As an interior designer, I’m always looking for great finds to accessorize the spaces I design. The other day I stumbled upon the homepage for this amazing ceramic studio and simply had to share some of their amazing work with you.

Monkey Business is a design studio in Versova, Mumbai. Founded by Bhagyashree Patwardhan and Thomas Louis, two like-minded graduates from NID, the studio specializes in ceramics. Having a distinctively organic appeal, Monkey Business’s in house product range constitutes of handcrafted art ware and utility ware.

Here’s a glimpse into their debut collection- each piece is delicate, playful and quirky like the sea creatures that were the inspiration for this range.



























For more click the link below to go to their Facebook page



[Images courtesy Monkey Business]

Monday, 23 January 2012

Spicy Double Chocolate Cookies

I have been experimenting with this recipe for a long time and after a number of initial disasters, I finally managed to get the result that I was looking for. This spicy double chocolate cookie is sinfully chocolaty with the spice giving it an extra little kick by bringing out the chocolate flavor even more. It is crisp and light on the outside and just a little chewy on the inside. I must admit the cookies take a little work to make, but the results are well worth it!







Ingredients (makes about 18 cookies)

1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp castor sugar*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg


Instructions

Sift flour and baking soda together. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, walnuts and chocolate chips to the flour and mix together. In a pan combine butter and cocoa and heat over low flame stirring continuously till butter melts. Set aside till cool. Wisk together egg and sugar in a bowl till mixture is pale yellow. Add vanilla and whisk for a minute. Add the cooled butter and cocoa mixture to this and whisk. Finally fold the combined dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined. Cover bowl with cling film and chill in fridge.

While the cookie mixture is chilling, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease a cookie tray and line with wax paper or baking paper. After the cookie dough has chilled for 10 minutes, take a heaped teaspoon full of dough and roll into balls between the palms of your hands. Each ball should be a little over an inch in diameter. Place on lined cookie tray about 1 1/2 inch apart and chill for an additional 5 minutes.

After chilling, remove tray from fridge and place in oven. After about 3 minutes reduce oven to 150 degrees Celsius and bake for about 10 minutes. I found that the base of these cookies burn quite easily so I placed a few sheets of slightly damp newspaper directly below the baking tray and this took care of the problem. Although I have given about 13 minutes as the baking time, I suggest you check the cookies before this to make sure the base doesn’t burn. You will know the cookie is ready when the top is cracked and firm, and the bottom of the cookie is lightly browned.

Once ready allow cookied to cool for about 5 minutes and then remove from tray and cool on wire rack.

* Castor sugar is a fine grained sugar. If you can’t get your hands on it, coarsely grind sugar in a processor.

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vegetable Couscous

I first tasted couscous on a visit to Camden Market while I was studying in the U.K.  It immediately went on my list of favorite foods and has become a staple in my pantry.  I love the fluffy, delicate flavor that works so well with spicy curries. To my delight I also learned that it’s really good for you!

I discovered this recipe for vegetable couscous on the internet. It came out pretty well the first time I tried it, although I have tweaked a few things since that first attempt. This is a wonderful recipe for those evenings when you want to rustle up a quick meal that’s wholesome and healthy too. Don’t let the lengthy list of ingredients deter you, aside from a little chopping, the process is simple and quick. Also feel free to use other vegetables like zucchini, green beans or eggplant. This is a great recipe to make use of any vegetables you may have lying around in your fridge. I use instant couscous for this recipe. I serve the couscous with a Harissa sauce (recipe included), but the couscous is just as great without the Harissa if you’re pushed for time.

My husband loves this vegetable couscous. No matter how much I make it, it is always polished off! This dish is very similar to a spicy vegetable Upma, only so much more flavor packed.  The recipe serves 3-4, unless your husband is like mine, in which case it will serve two! So here it is – my version of Vegetable Couscous with spicy Harissa sauce.




Couscous

Ingredients

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin  
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove powder
1 tsp Chili flakes or a whole dried chili broken up into bits
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cardamoms (crack the shell slightly so the flavor comes out)
Small pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1” piece of fresh ginger grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (soft but not mushy)
Grated zest of 2 small Indian lemons or 1 finely chopped up small preserved lemon (make sure to remove the seeds)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups couscous


Preparation

Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over a medium flame. Add oil and allow to heat. Add cardamom and fry for a minute. Add chili flakes, reduce flame to low, add chopped garlic and stir. Next add chopped onions and stir till golden. Add all dry spices and cook for a minute. Add carrots, and if you’re using fresh ginger, add it now. Cover and cook on low flame for 5 minutes. Next add chickpeas and about 2 tablespoons of stock. Cover and cook till carrots soften slightly. Add more stock if the stock dries up. Add bell peppers, tomatoes and saffron. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add preserved lemons or grated lemon zest followed by the remaining stock. Finally add the salt. If you are using preserved lemons, I would suggest adding less than a teaspoon of salt and taste before adding more since the preserved lemon has a lot of salt. Increase flame to high and bring to boil. Immediately add couscous, stirring with a fork and immediately switch of flame. Cover the pot with a lid. After 5 minutes, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and fluff up the couscous using only a fork (never a spoon or you will end up with a clumpy, mushy mixture). Cover and leave for another 15 minutes. Garnish with a whole lot of mint and coriander.   

Harissa

Ingredients 

2 large cloves garlic
½ tsp salt (to taste)
1 red bell pepper (medium sized)
1 tomato (medium sized)
3 dried or fresh red chilies (more if you want it extra spicy)
1 preserved lemon (these are small lemons, a little more than an inch in diameter)
¼ small green mango (optional)
2 mint leaves
1 sprig of coriander
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water

Place all ingredients in food processer & grind to paste




[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Thursday, 19 January 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

I have a thing for lists... lists of my favorite designers, my favorite colors, favorite stores... I can go on all day. I’ve recently made a list of a few things that I’ve come across that I think are kind of cool. Here are my top picks.
 

1.Concrete Wall by Tom Haga
This custom trompe l'œil wallpaper from 'Concrete Wall' uses photographs by Norwegian photographer Tom Haga to simulate the look of poured concrete as well as exposed brick. It uses high-resolution photography and custom manipulation to ensure the patterns are never repeated. The wallpaper itself has a vinyl surface which is washable, UV resistant and scratch resistant.
For more see www.concretewall.no 


[Images- Tom Haga]


2.Silver Addition Trolleys by Bordbar
The service trolley, which has been synonymous with air travel for decades, has been innovatively transformed into pieces of furniture for a wide variety of different purposes. These trolleys are now available in a multitude of cool colors. For more see Boardbar- Silver Addition 



[Images- Architonic]


3.Teapoy Table by Sandeep & Tanya Khosla and Amaresh Anand
Joint winner in the furniture category of EDIDA, these cool tables are inspired by Colonial India and its tradition of afternoon tea. The tables are available in three funky shades and have a great retro appeal.


[Image- tsk design]


4.‘Ironworks'-Industrial Vintage Furniture by Tejal Mathur
This furniture combines handcrafted woodwork with industrial style metal work resulting in an edgy line of furniture that still maintains a degree of old world charm.


[Image- The Inside Track]


5.Knitted & Crocheted Furniture & Furnishings
Bringing warmth and a touch of the 'arts and crafts' style into your home, furniture like the knitted pouf as well as knitted and crocheted rugs and cushion covers have led to a resurgence in these crafts.


Paola Navone & Martin Churba’s knitted pouf


Hand knitted 'Urchin Pouf' by Christien Meindertsma


Handmade outdoor poufs made from crocheted polyester cord by Ineke Visser [Images- Apartment Therapy]


Hand-crocheted pendant lamps by London-based designer Naomi Paul [Images- Fresh Home]

6.Lamps & Bowl table by Ayush Kasliwal
Ayush’s design studio AKFD works with skilled artisans to create products that celebrate Indian craft while being uncompromisingly modern in design. 





These brass pendant lamps are inspired by traditional Rajasthani temple bells


An adaptation of traditional wooden laquer trays, the Bowl Table can be used as both table and tray [Images- AKFD]

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gond Art

Recently, I came across a book titled ‘The London Jungle Book’ and I fell in love with not only the book, but its illustrations, done by the famous Gond artist Bhajju Shyam, nephew of Jangarh Singh Shyam, whom many consider the pioneer of the art form. On trying to find out more about this art form, I came across another book titled 'The Nightlife of Trees', and was left speechless by the beauty of this art. What I love about Gond art is that I think it has a very modern, almost graphical quality that seems to capture the imagination.

The Gonds are a tribal community from Madhya Pradesh and their origins can be traced to pre-Aryan times. Their art, seen in both color as well as black and white, appears like a collage of dots and dashes from up close, but merges into vibrant images of plants and animals that tell captivating folktales of these people. Each artist has a unique signature in the form of the pattern of dots and dashes that make up their composition.

Here are some great examples of Gond art by a few of the masters.


Jangarh Singh Shyam













Bhajju Shyam

 


 The above two images from The London Jungle Book by Tara Publishers



Images by  Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai and Ram Singh Urveti
from the book ‘The Night life of Trees’, Tara Publishers (Courtesy- Everything That’s Something-Yuti’s Blog)



  
Mayank Shyam

Neel-Kanth


Primal Spider- 3


Bana



Durga Bhai







[All images are copyright of respective artists]






Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Broccoli & Potato Quiche

This is a great recipe to serve for a brunch or if you are having a few people over for dinner. You can make both the dough for the pie crust as well as the filling the previous day so only the assembling and baking can be done last minute. Don’t be deterred by the length of this recipe- it’s not as complicated as it looks and feel free to use store-bought shortcrust pastry for this. I have added the recipe for pastry here since it’s difficult to find here in India.







Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
1/2 cup plain flour (maida)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup very cold butter (cubed)
1/4 cup cold water

Filling
1 cup broccoli (boiled, drained and cooled)
1 medium potato (cubed, boiled and cooled)
1 sliced onion
1clove garlic (sliced)
Thyme (fresh, if you have it)
Feta cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup yogurt
4 tbsp milk
Chilli flakes
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Tsp salt


Instructions
For the pastry, mix the flours with salt. Add cubed butter to this mixture. Rub butter and flour lightly between your fingers until the mixture appears like breadcrumbs. Add a little of the water and combine. If the dough is not forming add a little more of the water till it forms dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes. Then roll out till about 4mm thick and line 9” pie tin with the pastry. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and blind bake in oven for 10 minutes.

For Filling
Heat oil in pan. Lower flame and add chilli flakes and garlic. Before garlic starts to brown add thyme, followed by the onions and salt. Stir till onions are golden brown and are just starting to caramelise. Remove from flame and cool. Mix the onion mixture with the potatoes and chopped broccoli. Taste for salt and add if required.

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl and add yogurt, mustard and milk and mix till combined. If you like things a little on the spicy side you can add some additional chilli flakes to this mixture. Don’t add salt to this since the Feta is already quite salty.

Add the broccoli to the pie crust that you have blind baked. Break feta into cubes and distribute evenly between the broccoli mixture. Pour the egg mixture over this and bake in the oven at about 200 degrees Celsius till filling is firm and crust is golden brown. It should take about 30 minutes. To get a nice golden top on the filling place under the grill for about 2 to 3 minutes but keep a watch since the top will brown very quickly. Allow to cool and set for about 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a nice, green leafy salad.

Here are some helpful links for making the shortcrust pastry. Just follow the quantities I have mentioned in my recipe.


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