Monday, June 17 2019


Vinita Chaitanya

Bangalore’s own interior designer Vinita Chaitanya is known for her style and her long list of famous clients. In a chat with Arathi Menon, she reveals the design aesthetics that helped her tick in a highly competitive field, and the unique ‘classic contemporary’ style that she has developed.
Vinita Chaitanya doesn’t have a corner office. Neither do the windows open to a breathtaking view outside. The actual view is inside. Bright reds and yellows from a huge abstract by Bangalore boy Gurudas Shenoy fuse seamlessly with the diffused lighting inside. A mammoth distressed table with a chic glass top balances the awkward gauntness of the space.
It’s classic. It’s contemporary. Most importantly, it is something an office has never looked like before. And true to her style, it endures.
Looking expensive in a purple silk tunic layered with a linen shirt, the classy interior designer confesses that she is abreast with the trends but doesn’t consciously stick to it. You would expect her to name regular runway blazers when complimented on her choice of clothing. But it’s newbie Shalini Subramaniam of Plantation House that has impressed the designer. “There are plenty of young talents in India that I appreciate,” she says. And not surprisingly, Bangalore artists Shenoy and Praveen Kumar add to the impressive line up of artists that she chooses for her clients’ walls. “I select art by keeping the clients’ taste in mind. But in most cases the clients are physically present while I make the final decision. And with final texturing and colour coordination, the artwork blends with the wall.”
But what truly sets Vinita apart is that over the years she has evaded the style cops to cut a track of her own that she calls classic contemporary. “I haven’t made a conscious effort to stick to an existing trend. At the same time, I easily adapt to the ‘latest’ but never let it influence my signature style. In my designs, a touch of India is unmistakable. I’m proud to showcase our heritage in the designs I execute,” she says.
It is this design aesthetic – which she largely dedicates to her initial stint with The Oberoi group – that has garnered her goodwill of her clients. From Infosys mentor Narayan Murthy to the managing director of Biocon Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, her client list features the who’s who of Indian society. The interiors of actress Deepika Padukone’s Mumbai pad, in the news for the crores that have been spent on it, was done by Vinita. But there’s one client that Vinita would love to talk about – John Shaw, better known by his spouse, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. “He has a huge collection of art and artefacts from various places that he travels to – and he travels a whole lot,” she says. Among many other things that shaped her learning curve, she rates her stint with John Shaw number one.
Born in Mumbai, Vinita graduated from a design school in Kolkata. After her long participation with the Oberoi hotel, where she moved around their properties, she shifted base to Bangalore post her marriage in 1988. “The Oberoi’s ethos and aesthetics and their exceptional treatment of space still stay with me,” she says. Her career took flight after she landed an envious opportunity with McDowell’s. Vijay Mallya tipped her off about the prestigious project. “I believe it was the classic example of being at the right place, at the right time,” she reasons.
A spate of corporate spaces followed over the next ten years. “I could perhaps be the only interior designer who has done the most number of telecom spaces. I am working for Aircel now,” she says. Though Vinita chooses her projects wisely – and “not more than six to seven at any given point of time” – she has largely veered towards homes in that past decade. “I enjoy the relationship that you build while doing homes,” she says.
Her designs are all about her clients. She would have hour-long chats with a client before seeing the project. “By then, you would’ve formed a design in mind. After that, it’s just about adjusting it with space and light available,” she says. But there have been cases where she was faced with two entirely different things. “Then it’s a dilemma,” she says. It’s most often a young client wanting to do up an ancestral home. Vinita has a solution here: “Stick to your client’s preferences,” even if that means demolishing a part of the house.
For corporates, she says, she has moved from doing generic designs to edgy ones with the city in mind. “Simplicity is usually the norm though over-the-top is not always ruled out... My clients have been very encouraging and have given me the freedom to do what I like,” she says. She has never disappointed them. On how she has managed to live up to the demands of her famous clients, she says, “I travel a lot to keep up to date with changes in designs. I have been a constant fixture at Milan fair which is one of the most exciting fairs in the world that gives you a lowdown on whatever that has happened in the design industry in a year. Even for pleasure, I travel to places that would contribute to my design sense. London and New York are so fashionable that you can pick up a thing or two in design by merely watching the window display at the garment stores,” she says. She confesses that she reads almost all the magazines in the world. “At least twenty to twenty-five a month. Anything to do with design, fashion or art would appeal to me,” she says.
However, Vinita doesn’t approach work with a checklist in hand. “Before applying the make-up, be sure on the last look,” she says.
A view of a powder room of an apartment in Bangalore, featuring mosaic of marble on the floor and custom mirrors for each user.
1.Vinita Chaitanya
2.Each room has been designed with the owner in mind and each piece carefully chosen to add a sense of calm to it.
Chic grey and black tones in silks over an Italian grey marble floor warmed by luxurious wood panelling create a super-glam look to this 6,000 sq.ft space created by joining two apartments together
A superior chill-out zone outside the bedroom of another house. The artefacts have been sourced from various places.

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