La Fenêtre June

237 La Fenêtre JuneOkay, so the LOVE for arched windows continues! And I didn’t think I would be able to draw this for the #LearnToDraw series (those arched domes are difficult shapes to create, would you believe), but the outcome does not seem too bad. What do you think? There were some other options that came to mind when doodling windows (there’s a picture on my Instagram feed) but some of those were rather difficult to draw digitally, I think that this version was easier. Also, this is a random mention but this palette of colours makes me think of Mendl’s and The Grand Budapest Hotel, too. Non?

What else, what else? The inspiration to draw these arches came from a recent visit to Jehangir Art Gallery with Sonaksha (Iyengar) – who came to Bombay a few weeks ago. There was this one artist’s paintings, whose work I was completely enamoured with; and I’m kicking myself for not writing his name down. :-( The paintings that he made were so colourful and rich; the details were unbelievably poetic (and very real). The focus of his paintings were arched windows on old-fashioned buildings; and colourfully dressed women drying clothes out in the open and/or walking to the bazaar in the background, and such and such, etc. DAMN! 

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes

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Sugar & Spice

233 Sugar & Spice

I am not sure how to begin writing this post, exactly… Only because I tend to repeat myself, or usually start with, “Okay, so... ” or “Erm, to… ” Why don’t I have a cool catchphrase? Would be SWEET if I did! Do you have one? What would my life be like if I didn’t have a blog to look after? Not in the arrogant sense, more like, “Would it be easier to just be, and not over-think and not have to jot down every idea that I had?” Yikes, I don’t know! (Does this feel like what it would be like when you have a baby?) I can’t stop over-thinking, and yet I hate thinking about these things. Talk about a rubbish intro paragraph, and I wanted to have a catchphrase (shut it, bro).

Okay (turns out that I can’t get rid of it yet), so a few weeks ago, Radhika (Malhotra) of Sugar & Spice e-mailed me because she wanted to have a cool, new header created for her blog; I remember being very interested about the project because the name itself had so much potential, I was thinking of conjuring jars of magical sprinkles and cake-mixers blending secret-looking ingredients in bowls and well, all sorts of objects, because erm… SUGAR AND SPICE – Commonplace as the phrase is, something about it is very charming, enchanting even. (Radhika is a Delhi-based blogger who makes desserts and food, mostly – and covers all related recipes on her blog; she also loves composing and shooting the pictures for all of her posts.)

We both came up with very many ideas that were exchanged over a couple of e-mails… Radhika decided that she liked the idea most of Sugar & Spice being illustrated as a logo unit (in a typeface format, along with her signature). So, it was a header-style artwork that won her heart ultimately, wherein Sugar & Spice and all of her favourite ingredients and tools were illustrated colourfully! Also, we finally settled for a different typeface in the overall artwork but this is the one I used originally which made me like this version more, heh. (I can’t decide what I like the most… The jar of Nutella, slab of butter, or ooh, the eggs, camera – yes, I was inspired by the Lomography ones, the cake-mixer, lemons, etc. Ooh, definitely the sprinkles!)

P.S. This is the second dessert-ish related artwork/logo (I think The Vanilla Bean Bakery was the first) that I’ve worked on formally for someone, and I LOOOOOVE working on projects like these… Because it makes me very happy to be able to draw things to eat. :-)

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes

So Far, So Safomasi

Safomasi, Quilts, Cushion Covers, Delhi, Mithai, Mithai Prints

You know what, I’m not too sure about when exactly I discovered/heard about Safomasi. I do know that I stumbled upon it through Instagram – because I follow Kassia Karr’s picture feed (Do you know her? She writes about bath, beauty and health mostly at  The Neemly.) and she posted a photograph tagging Safomasi. I thought that the name sounded pretty cool, and I clicked on the Safomasi feed and… voilà! The colourful prints, design motifs and the pretty, pink pom-poms all had my heart in a flutter. I was sucked in deep, and simply had to know more!

Okay, so the name. There’s an interesting story here – no, it’s not a real word as I thought it to be, but what a stroke of genius on the part of the co-founders! Safomasi is basically a combination of the initials of their names – Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh. { Safo + Masi! ♥ } Adorable, in a sense, right? Though it seems like a lucky call, I would say it’s pretty clever. It lends beautifully to the brand’s aesthetics and sensibilities – take a look at their cushion covers and quilts on their website, and tell me I’m not wrong. Their work borders on the basic and an essence of simplicity, yet there’s something so exciting-ly refreshing about the brand. I’m a sucker for the illustrations, they are a work of art – from a mix of camel silhouettes and turban-clad rustic travellers, mithai motifs and stripes, polka dots and pinks and pom-pom and tassel detailing, their cushion covers and quilts belong in a “home”.

When I say that I mean, forget the trendy part of the deal for a minute, it’s the way that the wares are hand-crafted and made to look like they belong in someone’s home, for sure. It has that “something more” factor! Now, I haven’t ordered anything from them just as yet (I’m kicking myself about missing the Diwali discount!) but I’m considering purchasing a few of the cushion covers at some point. Especially the pom-pom embellished ones!

P.S. They’re selling some Christmas lovelies too! Be sure to check their Facebook and Twitter accounts for more details on those products, as they’re not part of the website store yet. ^.^

{  About two or three years ago was when Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh first conceptualised Safomasi. The brand was launched last year – if I’m not mistaken, and they’re based in Delhi. I don’t think that they have a physical showroom yet but they sell through their website, and are open to the idea of custom-made orders too, yay! Their cushion covers and quilts are priced at Rs. 1,500 and above. }

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Pictures by Safomasi { Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh }

Affaire de Cirare

Cirare, Resort Wear, Resort Accessories, Akanksha Redhu, Photography by Naina Redhu, Fashion, Lifestyle, Island, Prints, Acid Wash

I’m fairly certain of why it took me so long to compile the pictures and text for this post, I got stuck in “Save Mode”. Well, to be clear, her stuff was too pretty to share, at first, I just wanted to hold on to it for a little while longer. Anyway, I’m currently in a sun-and-sands state of mind (a beach holiday would be befitting), and that’s when I thought… Now’s the time, sunshine! :-)

If you remember, my last feature spoke of Jesi Rodgers and her lovely, hand-painted wooden wares… this time, the spotlight belongs to Akanksha Redhu, a fashion blogger and designer from Delhi. I remember becoming an ardent admirer of Akanksha’s style from this post onward and I’ve been following her musings since then… so I was naturally (and pleasantly) surprised to learn of her fashion label, Cirare, in March of this year. I saw a few pictures (heck, even made up my mind that I need to own one of these!) and was completely smitten. She was the perfect contender for this series of mine (*not-so-evil laugh*). So yeah, I e-mailed her a few times and she answered all of my ridiculously long questions, and even sent me pictures of her enticing collection (shot by her sister Naina Redhu of Naina Co.). Needless to say, the cat’s out of the box eh? I couldn’t keep her Cirare secrets all to myself any longer.

At first, when I came across Cirare, the label, its wares and resort-like, sunshine-filled colours , I pictured Greece, the islands of Bali or the Bahamas. Possibly even Goa! And I thought your label name might even have a foreign meaning. But I like that it doesn’t, and is just simply a combination of two very basic shapes. Would you tell me a bit more about how you conceptualised the brand, and why you fell in love with the name Cirare?

When I started off with the conceptualisation process, I first thought of what I would like people to derive from the name of my label and what type of personalities my potential clients would have but after a lot of thought and daydreaming I realised that I didn’t  to have such guidelines and be rigid in terms of who my products would suit etc. That finally led to further thoughts of my love for nature, since it accepts everyone in their most basic forms… I played around with a few combinations of certain words, and the final match was between Cirare (Circle + Square) and Squircle (Square + Circle) – I might still use Squircle somewhere because I feel it definitely sounded more hipster and young.

Was Cirare something that you planned subconsciously, like a project at the back of your mind? When exactly did you begin working on putting together a couple of lines for the label?

Originally, I had started Cirare as a clothing label – I came up with two collections but I realised that was absolutely not where my heart was! Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes, I still get clothes made for myself from tailors etc. but making them for others is a different ball game altogether. With accessories, I have a different level of freedom of expression, I can play with prints I love, shapes I love and I certainly don’t have to conform to any trends or fads as such. So technically speaking, Cirare is a bit old but the two most-recent lines of accessories is about two collections old (from somewhere in mid 2012).

When did you finally know that “now” was the time to take the plunge? Was the process ever hard at all?

It was VERY hard. When I graduated from college, all I knew was that I would work for someone else. So much freedom and that too, so suddenly can be very confusing and difficult to deal with, at times. I remember – for what seemed like an eternity – that I was actually scared to start out, and kept putting it off – taking the first step but with so much free time on my hands and the fact that I get bored really quick, I knew that I had to just dive in.

Are the flavours of Cirare extremely close to your heart? The whole vibe of fresh, resort-wear appeal, definitive of pristine beaches much like those at Saint-Tropez and other holiday destinations perhaps?

YES! They’re very close to my heart… I don’t really know if it will ever change, I certainly don’t expect it to remain the same forever, my frame of mind literally changes with seasons (and as I get older) but whatever I make, my state of mind is literally quite tangible through the prints. For example for this collection, I thought about the recent holidays I spent at Ko Samui and the Andaman Islands, and I’m a complete sucker for beaches and all the water… so the moment I started thinking about my next collection, I knew his was what it was going to be about.

Was it easy coming up with the designs once you knew the flavour of the brand? How much time does it take to come up with fresh ideas and thoughts for future lines?

It’s not that hard. You just need to zone out for a while and put in some time and perspective, once you’re on a roll then it’s not difficult to endlessly make stuff that you love. But you have to start somewhere! Since I’m still new at this, I haven’t really fixed a timeline defining when I should start thinking about my next line or such and such because somehow I feel that will take the fun out of it. Sometimes when I’m working on a new collection, I might make something completely unrelated to the current theme and that stirs up a new tangent of thoughts that becomes an inspiration for the next collection. But more than that, what I feel most good about is when my ideas come out of my travels and trips. (I’m detecting a strong and exciting pattern here!)

What materials are you fond of using for Cirare’s collections? Are they hard to find especially when concentrating on unique designs that require all sorts of materials and crafting expertise?

I try to use natural materials like cotton twill fabric, twill silk and canvas and of course, leather. The materials are not hard to find in Delhi – it’s a huge place and you can find pretty much anything in Delhi.

Besides clutches, totes and scarves, are there more accessories (and perhaps a beachwear or clothing line) to be expected from you in your future collections?

I do keep thinking of making more accessories like men’s ties and bow-ties, basically products where my prints will do all the talking, but I’m doing what I know I can manage for now… I will definitely introduce new things as I evolve. I’m not so sure about a beachwear line just as yet but who can really say!

Fashion (and lifestyle) bloggers find it easier to launch a new label these days because of their blogs. After all, some of the labels are extensions of their personal styles. Would you say it has been easier for you, building your brand, after your own eponymous blog, Akanksha Redhu?

I have consciously tried to not relate my label to my blog since they are two absolutely different parts of me and in no way, affect each other which is why I haven’t even written a post on my own label on my blog. To get hits on my label’s website, I’ve included a sidebar advert on the blog. Besides, your blog can only take you so far after that, it’s all about how well your products communicate with the people themselves.

This question is clichéd, but what advice would you give to fellow bloggers who might be on a similar path of aspiration? 

It’s always a great idea to have work experience in a similar field before you start something of your own. Networking is an important aspect but please don’t try to be someone that you are not, it always shows and remember to listen to what everyone has to say but in the end do what your heart tells you to do because even when all the others might not remember or support you, you know that your heart always will, if you have listened to it… a clichéd answer for clichéd question (winks) but it still holds very true for me.

Are there any specific destination beaches you would love to visit (that you haven’t yet) on your travel list?

I don’t know where to start – I’m crazy about travelling! If I had the money I’d never stop – I’d love to go to Brazil, Greece, those hidden beaches in Italy, Sri Lanka, Madagascar… well, I can just go on and on, so I think that list should suffice for now.

And finally… Life’s too fast for a great many things but just if you could, if it was possible, what would your alternative super career be? 

I always wanted to be a marine biologist, or just a deep-sea diving instructor somewhere with a small café or shack to run on the side – that would have been unreal.

{ Cirare currently retails at Nautanky in Ahmedabad; Second Floor Studio, Moon River Store and Ogaan in Delhi; Sacha’s Shop in Goa; Parvati Villa in Bombay; and Living Art Lifestyles in Pondicherry. You can buy Akanksha’s wares online as well through her website, Etsy shop and on Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop. As far as the pictures in this collage are concerned, I’ve chosen various pieces from both her previous and current collections, my favourite pieces are the colourful acid wash clutch and scarf, the brown leather purse (the best!), and the galactic print clutch and pink palm coin purse (whose pictures aren’t seen here). Prices for her wares start at Rs. 850 and go up to Rs. 4,000 and above. }

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Pictures by Naina Redhu