With a distinct sense of style and an ability to create beauty out of the ordinary, Vinita Chaitanya is one of India’s most sought-after interior designers. When she’s not regaling
her impressive online following with her #SlowLife, encouraging them to #WalkWithMe around Bengaluru, imbibing all that the city’s flora has to offer, Chaitanya has her attention on intricate detailing, with an innate talent to draw design inspiration from the most mundane of things.
Unlike the new-age celebrity designers of today who we often see flaunting their connections on social media, Chaitanya is immensely discreet about her clients. While her repertoire comprises prominent names like Deepika Padukone, Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Embassy Group Chairman Jitu Virwani and even Ranjan Pai of the Manipal Group, she does not disclose details easily.
“I’ve known Deepika since she was 15. Her father Prakash and my husband Chai played badminton together. She may be a superstar to the world, but there’s a personal connect between us, and we respect each other as professionals.”
“It’s no different with my other high-profile clients. We’ve all been friends for a long time now. They reach out to me, and I’m happy to work with them,” says the designer, known for her contemporary-classic style bordering on maximalist.
Chaitanya’s been in the business of interiors since 1988. That’s when she established her design firm Prism, which she later rebranded to Vinita Chaitanya. Today, she’s known for her love for colour and prints, putting together an eclectic mix of knick-knacks, and fashioning an aesthetic only she can. So much so that she defines herself as “a maximalist in my personal zone. It’s more about decluttering for me. But I like to be practical by striking a balance”.
She’s come a long way since then and is now identified as one of India’s best in the field. These days, Chaitanya keeps busy with innovative collaborations with such eminent names in the fashion and design space as Ashiesh Shah, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Tarun Tahiliani.
“Collaborations are the biggest thing in the design fraternity. During the peak of Covid, Ashiesh and I put together a fund to help karigars. He works with these craftspeople directly; I support them indirectly by buying their products, as I’m always looking for antiques and crafts.”
“At one point, I wanted to embellish an entire wall with Islamic art for a client. While looking for references, I realised that carpets were an integral part of that era. So I decided to contemporarise my work, and that is when I reached out to Tarun. He jumped at the idea. This was when I decided to work with designers who are creative in their own fields and bring them into interiors.”
“Soon, I was putting together a mood board for a client, and the new Sabyasachi collection had just dropped. The client reached out to him, got the lookbook, and started working with it. Two days later, I was approached to collaborate with Sabya for a collection. And that’s how I landed up doing my own space with his products,” she adds.
Her most recent work was designing a home for Dilip Surana, Chairman and Managing Director of Micro Labs, in the tony neighbourhood of Fairfield Layout in Bengaluru. She takes us on a walk-through of the rooms she designed with her trademark attention to detail.
Chaitanya specialises in transforming a bare house into a well-designed space. She breathes life into them with colours and her brand of finesse, focusing on the finer nuances of design like accessories, art, antique décor elements, or furnishings. But Surana had a clear blueprint in mind.
“He wanted an all-white home and had even bought the marble for the entire space! He clearly indicated his dislike for anything ostentatious, like gold,” she says.
Chaitanya met Surana’s wife Archana and daughter Diya, and the initial plan was for her to come onboard as an interior designer alone. However, the family soon decided to get her involved with the overall elevation of the home.
“While the shell was complete, and they wanted a clean, contemporary façade, I was sure I wanted to bring in their Rajasthani heritage into the design. I love blending the traditional and the modern. It defines my style!”
The sprawling home built primarily in white marble got a brand-new façade, with elements of
beautiful sandstone, including the intricate jali or lattice work. This intrinsic Rajasthani architectural characteristic found its way to their balconies, large windows, and service areas like the shafts.
“It switched up the feel of the home entirely and brought in a connect between the exteriors and interiors,” she explains.
Surana has a fine eye for design and was a very involved owner who collaborated extensively with Chaitanya, even selecting the furnishings himself. While he was keen on all-European furniture brands and even travelled to Europe to pick out some of them, Chaitanya managed to strike a balance.
“We travelled to Europe and inspected furniture, stones, and artefacts. I had to convince him to introduce colour and layers into his choices. He guided me to his craftsman who had built his temples for him, and we employed them to handcraft the silver doors for the home temple,” she says, referring to the focal point of the living area of the Surana home.
“When I saw this space carved out in the centre, I knew it’d be perfect,” she adds. “The main corridor leads directly to it. I worked with Sicis to add a mandala pattern in front of the temple, which is where priests sat and chanted their mantras during the housewarming pooja. It was divine!”
Slowly but surely, the Surana home evolved. The designer and industrialist collaborated, with Chaitanya introducing Surana to Indian brands like Jaipur Trunk Company, architect and designer Rooshad Shroff and Jaipur Rugs. They blended their incredible craft with stunning European brands like Etro, Rugiano, Louis Vuitton, B&B Italia and Serip, to name a few.
The home is divided into the common areas on the lower floor and the quieter, private spaces on the upper. Each floor is unique to the part of the family that lives there. The master bedroom on the upper level boasts an inviting verdant terrace space, and the beautifully done bathrooms are finely scaled along with the bedrooms.
“For the master bedroom, which was all beige and white, the couple chose the first pair of limited-edition carpets that I had designed for Jaipur Rugs. It’s called Inde Rose. They are in a gorgeous soft green and pale pink.”
Given her passionate involvement with projects, Chaitanya often recommends artwork depending on their requirements.
“For those who already have a collection, I balance between Indian and European artists. For others, I tend to suggest old masters like MF Husain, SH Raza, and Jamini Roy. I also work with Sri Lankan and southern Indian artists from Kerala. I tend to use a mix of traditional and modern, including mixed media.”
Chaitanya has come a long way from her early days in the 80s, when she’d head to work with her little daughter Diya, today the founder of Paperclip & Co.
“Nothing was planned,” the designer says. “I was very passionate from the beginning. I started designing corporate offices and then transitioned to the private residences of managing directors, evolving from there to designing high-end homes. Today, I only work on large private homes, with an odd home office attached to it.”
Cover Photo Credits:
Photography: Tina Dehal; Fashion Editor: Sonam Poladia; Junior Stylist: Anushree Sardesai; Hair & Makeup: Simran Shah; Set Design: Nikita Rao; Carpets & Location Courtesy: Obeetee Carpets| Worli, Mumbai
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This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in HELLO! India’s July 2022 issue.