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On Art and Light and Life: MBRB speaks with Vineeta Nair

A Conversation with Vineeta Nair- on designs for spring and beyond

We speak with Vineeta Nair-one of India’s foremost design bloggers- about her inspirations and about the beautiful decoupage artifacts she designs

Vineeta Mugs

Vineeta Nair left her career as an Art Director in Advertising to become a full time design blogger;  and eventually to design her own stunning works of accessible art. We spoke with her earlier this week to learn more about her, and to get some suggestions on how to transform our living spaces this spring.

Before we begin, we have to say that Vineeta was truly one of our favorite interviewees- both with her easy conversation and her propensity to fall into warm giggles at every juncture!

Vineeta, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with us. Could you tell us a little bit about how and when you decided to become a design blogger?

I think it was really a combination of things. About 5 years into my journey in Advertising, I knew this is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do instead- all I knew was that I wanted to do something where all 24 hours of the day were mine- to plan and work on things that I want to do.

I have always been an Internet junkie, and at about this time, I became really fond of this blog called Decor8 by Holly Becker. The more I followed it, the more I realized that so much of what she was talking about was very local in nature- the offers, some of her design sensibilities, the trends she mentioned. This was in the early days of blogging, and there really wasn’t an Indian counterpart to what she did.  A friend suggested I do something more India-specific and that’s where Art N Light began.

I have always had an artistic temperament, and have been fond of chronicling design. I realized that I had been clicking at beautiful things with my trusty camera for the longest time, and had an entire archive of images and impressions to begin this blog with.  Soon, I was blogging about the placed I had seen, things that I liked and the designs that caught my attention wherever I went.


When did your blog really take off?

In the early days I really just sent a link about the blog to a few close family members and friends. I think the best thing that happened to me was that I didn’t work towards any benchmarks- any Google Analytics-based number of visitors or some such, but just for the sheer joy of writing about the things that appealed to me. Every single comment on the blog made me happy, and ensuring that I curate the best design ideas became a near-obsession. That’s probably how the blog took off.

Even though a lot of my time now goes towards managing my design business, this blog remains my foremost priority. And I was really upset last year when the various pulls of my business kept me away from it for long periods of time.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your design endeavour, and the kind of work you do?

About two or three years into my journey as a blogger, a friend bought me a tray. I am usually very particular about everything that’s in my house, and this particular tray was so ugly that it almost called out to me in a challenge of sorts. Tired of looking at it without doing something about it, I decided to hand-paint and transform it. It had been ages since I had done anything by hand, and I found the work oddly liberating and very creatively satisfying.

Before I knew it, a friend had liked my tray, and suggested I get myself a stall in an exhibition she was organizing.  It was only closer to the exhibition that I realized that it would be impossible to hand-paint enough trays or other products for an entire stall, and decided to do a mix of hand painting and decoupage. The next few days went by in a flurry of activity- as friends and family pitched in by painting and helping me assemble the products for my first exhibition.

At this stage I was still working full- time, blogging regularly, and now creating products part-time.  I wasn’t even sure if my products were good enough for my own blog- for which I had set very exacting standards. So I first shared these products with my readers mostly to seek their feedback. But the response that I received on my blog- both from interested customers and a couple of senior retailers- convinced me to continue making these pieces.

Now for the last four years, I have been exclusively blogging and designing my own line of products. I make trays, boxes, mirrors and various other design accents under the ArtNLight brand.


Where can we buy Art N Light products?

I retail almost exclusively through LimeRoad and Jaypore. It was very important for me to retail at outlets where every single product was exclusive and of a high quality. I also export a bit, and supply to a couple of stand-alone retailers.

As I often tell my friends, in some ways I am an art person in a business kindergarten, and I have had to learn the mechanics of selling and remaining sustainable on the job. It hasn’t always been financially viable, but I am getting there- and am grateful for that.

Who are some of your artistic and design inspirations?

Frida Kalho for her art and her never-say-die attitude- she had a  spine-condition and has created work while lying on her back. Sabyasachi for his understated and stunning work and his Indian values and work ethic. He’s someone who makes such beautiful work and reinvents himself again and again without compromising on his design vision. This country has such a strong artistic lineage,  and he always goes back to that for his inspiration. Both Marian Banjes and Jessica Hische for their stunning work with typography. Ritika Mittal for going where angels fear to tread and bringing back stories in textiles that we can bequeath our daughters. Dithi Mukherjee for the stupendous growth in her work and her deep dedication and and her undeniable inner light.

Vineeta, since this is our spring issue, we’d love to hear from you on a couple of design ideas that can transform your living space this spring

  1. Indoor plants: I don’t know why more people don’t have indoor plants. There is one for every type of design sensibility- you can get minimalist structured plants, or more extravagant ones for those who like a bit of drama. Everyone should have more indoor plants in their house and in their lives.
  2. Infuse a little bit of yourself in your living space- Whether it is a collage of images from the newspaper and magazines, or painting a wall on your own, a little bit of DIY goes a long way in making your living spaces more personal and beautiful.

Do you have any suggestions for transforming our dire work places?

I think it does everyone good to have a little bit of his or her inspiration in front of them- whether you are working in the stock market or as a graphic designer! A quote from someone you admire, a little reminder of where you want to be some day, post it up somewhere so you can see it all the while.  Making that little bit of effort can make your workday worthwhile.

Do you have any suggestions for affordable design ideas for the home that we can invest in this season?

There really are so many people doing excellent design work. Get something by Maheshwari Janardhan, or something by Ritika Mittal which is  worth its weight in gold. Or something by Dithi Mukherjee or Kalyani Ganapathy. All of them produce pieces of art that are gorgeous and worth your hard earned money.

Lastly, Vineeta, if you could go back in time and share a cup of coffee or dinner with someone, who would it be and why?

Holly Becker- her blog started this journey that I am on today, and I’d love to talk to her about this.

All images courtesy of Vineeta’s blog. Be kind and ask her before before using them.

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