Saturday, May 09, 2015

A Cup of Chai…{A photo book about the many cups of chai in my life.}

Today seems to be the day when my 'to-do' list is negligible and I don't see any herculean tasks in the horizon that need my immediate attention.
So I put the kettle on and open the lid of my favourite new tea blend.
The aromatic infusion of citrus, cardamom, lemongrass refresh my senses to a state of immense happiness.


…and I sit down with my freshly brewed cup of tea to tell you all my lovely Rang Decor readers, the story of how 'A Cup of Chai…' A Tea Table book came into being.

I started pursuing my passion for photography in 2006 on flickr, an online platform and community for photographers to share their work and get inspired. Over a period of time I realised I delighted in capturing the steam emanating from my cup of chai, or the compositions and the mood associated with tea time. Soon I had a set full of chai photographs! Do take a quick look here~



Caustics and pattern play...

Morning chai in Jaisalmer…

Chai in our terrace...

Chai and sunflowers from the farmers market…

A Cup of Chai… A photoblog about the many cups of chai in my life came into being in 2008 as a space to share photographs dedicated to my love of tea. 
Soon it became a platform for tea-lovers around the world to come together to interact about their love for chai!


Better Photography Magazine one of India's leading photography magazine ran an article about my work. This was an interesting turning point since my passion for tea and photography was recognised and covered as a unique personal project.

I wanted to capture the moments of having tea in the most spontaneous manner possible. I believe that spontaneity is the key to personal projects. So while a daily ritual of a cup of tea may seem monotonous, with spontaneity and creativity you can break the monotony. For me, creative compositions are important as they can bring the mundane to life.

Being a graphic designer, I am instinctively drawn to unique and creative patterns, frames and compositions in whatever I come across in everyday life, even when I shoot my everyday cups of tea. So whenever there is an occasion for a cup of chai, I ensure that my camera is always nearby. You never know when an interesting composition may come up.

While I continue to shoot my daily vignettes of chai everyday, I share it on Instagram, Facebook and  also on 'A Cup of Chai...' photoblog dedicated to tea. This has resulted in a beautiful confluence of photography and tea, two things that I am so passionate about.

The most natural culmination of a project like this is a book that has the finest collection of photographs that celebrates the eternal cup of tea. A Tea Table book, very unique in it's concept and a great memoir to gift and pass on to chai-lovers, tea-drinkers and fine art photography admirers.

I took the leap and self-published the photo book on Blurb.com in March, 2015.


Glimpses into the book, it also has our family Masala Chai recipe:-)

You can purchase 'A Cup of Chai…' on blurb.com. Click here to order now http://blur.by/1KBfizN

I am also working on looking for publishers in India, to make it a cost effective option.

If you have suggestions on which publisher would be a great fit for 'A Cup of Chai…' do let me know in the comment section. It would be greatly appreciated!

Hope you liked reading about my 'A Cup if Chai… with your cup of tea in your hands;-)

Have a great weekend everyone!

(Images by Archana Srinivas and are copyrighted)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Once Upon a….

Sounds like a line from a long forgotten fairy tale?
Today Rang Decor brings to you one such narrative where dreams become reality when one decides to go that extra mile.

Once Upon A Tea Time…a blog by Priya Iyer tells a story, a visual story of creative individuals, bohemian art and global design all painted against the backdrop of floral tea cups, pattern play of hand block print, Suzani textiles and of vibrant dreams.

Priya Iyer is a research biologist and public health professional by training but she loves sharing her great love of global design and eclectic decor on her blog where the readers are invited to a virtual tea party with delightful imagery of decorative cups of tea and where creative conversations are initiated.

Having grown up in Middle East and spent the last 18 years in the United States, she says that her style is more global, bordering on Bohemian-style and her love for block print patterns and textiles can't be denied.

To commemorate 5 years of blogging in 2013, Priya decided to start a digital publication- A magazine. She even decided to try publishing it on a monthly basis. 

She says, "With every issue I wanted to tell stories, introduce amazing people with boundless creativity and share them with my readers. For the whole of last year, we published on Issuu and our magazines were available for free."
A glimpse into her studio…

Here are some visuals of Once Upon A Tea Time... magazine evolving with each issue.




Priya describes the Once Upon A Tea Time magazine as a space where the readers can dive deeper into the stories behind a great product or read about the creative journeys undertaken by an artist.
 …all this over cups of tea.


The Anniversary Issue…



Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Dvara Magazine: India through a new lens.

Come away with me.
To a land filled with art from the forest of honey and visuals that conjure up Indian-ness with a touch of modernity.

Presenting to you Dvara.

A first of it's kind visual Indian fusion coffee table magazine.
A quarterly magazine, which aims to bridge the generational gap between the ancient art forms, culture and traditions from India and today's youth interested in fashion, cinema, music, colour and flare.

Dvara, means doorway.

It opens its doors to a picturesque world of different facets of Indian culture which transcends across time and across generations. It offers a glimpse into the old way of life with a modern twist. The goal of the magazine is to inspire people to adapt these old traditions seamlessly into modern everyday life.


Dvara is the brainchild of two Chicago based creative entrepreneurs, Karthika Gupta and Jayashree Rao, who are passionate about India and her stories. Dvara is their platform to showcase all things beautiful and unique about India ~ her art, culture, people, places and food in a way that is aesthetically appealing and visually captivating. 



Karthika Gupta is the photographer and owner of Memorable Jaunts, an on-location photo studio specializing in weddings and family portraiture.  She mentions that her style of photography is clean, crisp, organic and fresh. 

Jayashree Rao is an ex-visual merchandising head at Ann Taylor, is also the blogger behind the very stylish blog Sage & Slingback, a space that predominantly showcases Indian fashion and art. She is a self-taught Madhubani artist who currently teaches this form of art.

Jayashree recalls how the two ladies met.

"We were introduced to each other through a common friend. Karthika came into my life as my Madhubani art student.
During one of our casual conversations at class, I came to know that she was a professional photographer. That intrigued me and I started following her work and vice versa. Though we are completely opposite in our personalities we soon realized that we both share the common love for all things unusual and uncommon….
Jayashree (Left) Karthika (Right) against the vibrant backdrop of Madhubani art painted by Jayashree...

Karthika had this idea of starting a unique Indian Fusion coffee table magazine for the longest time. Again out of the blue, one day at a YMCA parking lot, she asked me if I wanted to be a part of this initiative and within no time, I said yes. I knew I wanted to do something different, something that would encompass my love for Indian fashion, food, travel, art. Dvara happened at the right time and was just the right thing that I was looking for."

Celebrating Dvara with a scrumptious cake!
The ‘d’ in the logo is the lovely lady Dvara, standing tall and proud, ready to face the world. The two concentric circles signify endless possibilities with Dvara. 

They state if Karthika loves her chai, Jayashree enjoys her countless cups of coffee. If one finds solace in tents and mountains, the other finds comfort in beaches and cabanas. Being complete opposites in their personalities and though it's a lens versus lipstick, hiking shoes versus stilettos kind of scenario between them, they still share the same passion and vision for their magazine.

Some visuals from events organised by them to introduce Dvara Magazine to the world. The fusion is definitely visible.

Dvara has 5 consistent categories in every issue - Fashion, Food, Art, Travel and Lifestyle. 






Karthika and Jayashree are also the photographer and stylist behind the magazine.

Speaking about their aspirations for the magazine~
"Our sincere hope is for Dvara to become a platform to showcase artists, artisans, independent designers and other creatives. We are working on a submissions mechanism for Dvara and will launch that in the coming months." 

According to them, Dvara's audience is anyone and everyone who loves all things eclectic, beautiful, culturally rich and Indian. You don’t have to be an Indian to enjoy and appreciate her. As long as you have a love for anything related to Indian art, travel, lifestyle, food and fashion you will find inspiration in her pages and stories.

Rang Decor wishes the creative duo great success for their fusion magazine Dvara which launches on 21st April, 2015
The Kalamkari art on the wall is painted by Jayashree...

Now for the most exciting part of the post. Dvara is having a giveaway exclusively for Rang Decor readers. The first of it's kind for Rang Decor.
The giveaway is the Inaugural issue of Dvara Magazine.

Here is what you need to do, answer the question below and click 'like' on Dvara Magazine and Rang Decor's Facebook pages & Instagram profiles to keep updated on the latest. 
Now, how simple is that?:-)

1. Dvara is a doorway, a portal that provides a glimpse into various facets of India through it's visual stories. Please tell us in a couple of sentences what draws you to India, Indian culture and how do you assimilate that into your everyday?

2. Like Dvara Magazine on Facebook and follow Dvara on Instagram

3. Like Rang Decor on Facebook and follow Rang Decor on Instagram

The contest opens right now and ends on April 29rd, 2015.  So get the answers ready.

The winner will be decided based on the best entry by the Dvara Team.

(Images by Dvara Magazine and are copyrighted)



Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Historic Mansions of Summit Avenue | Saint Paul, Minnesota.

It was one of the last weekends of late summer in Minnesota, when the heart yearned to spend every warm minute outdoors soaking up the beauty of the season. 
The Twin Cities which consist of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have distinct personalities. Saint Paul is influenced by early Irish, French & German Catholic heritage.
We decided to explore Summit Avenue which is the preserved heritage neighbourhood of Victorian mansions. It extends from the very majestic Cathedral Of Saint Paul with it's copper dome to a 5-mile length of the avenue.
There are many organised tours held by the Minnesota Historical Society, since ours was an impromptu trip we just decided to walk as far as our legs would take us, enjoying the weather and marvelling at the 19th century architecture.


Most of the mansions were built in 1860's by Railroad and Lumbar Barons.


The gateway to a bygone era.


As we passed each Victorian style mansion, we realised they very so unique and distinct in design.

 Come sit a while and watch the season making an exit.

The walk was so breathtakingly beautiful with fresh tender vines entwined around age old rusty iron fences.
 One single puffy cloud.


The Old Smith 'Vine' Masion
This mansion covered with vine was built 1858 and probably one of the oldest in the neighbourhood.


 Our vibrant path.


There are many notable buildings like the James J. Hill HouseF. Scott Fitzgerald House and Frank B. Kellogg House in the neighbourhood.



Addison G. Foster Home 






 Mrs. Porterfield's Boarding House and George W. Freeman House.

The George W. Freeman was built in 1884. The blended style of the orange stone home is called Romanesque Revival, but they took it to a new level replacing stone columns with white Corinthian period Roman columns and even capped it off Spanish style red terracotta roof.  For its day the blending of this many differing styles must have made the house a great statement piece of art.


 Cyrus B. Thurston House

Mrs. J. W. Bass House was built in 1891 as a Victorian style home but soon remodelled it into a Colonial Revival style by adding Roman columns.

 The elusive Monarch butterfly poses for me!



The famous F. Scott Fitzgerald row house. This is the place where he spent most of his youth and apparently wrote his first novel 'This Side of Paradise.'

 The delights of summer!






The House of Hope Presbyterian Church

Hope readers of Rang Decor liked the historical walk on Summit Avenue with it's rich 19th century architectural styles. While researching I learnt a lot about the Victorian, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival styles.

Do click on the links to read in detail about the history of various mansions. If you find yourself in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The historical tour of Summit Avenue is a must do:-)

(Photographs by Arch & are copyrighted. Reference from Wikipedia, Minnesota Historical Society)