Friday, November 14, 2008

Sammelan Line Pictures

We finally have some pictures of our new line, thanks to the lovely and talented Toronto based photographer, Danijela Pruginic. Thanks also to Grace at Design*Sponge for posting our new line here.

Going Green
88 x 92 with 2 matching pillow shams, 300 thread count cotton sateen, printed with reactive dyes, button closure, plain reversible back. $200 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red
88 x 92 with 2 matching pillow shams, 300 thread count cotton sateen, printed with reactive dyes, button closure, plain reversible back. $200 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Going Green
16l x 12w x 4d, 100% Cotton Canvas with 300 thread count cotton sateen lining, printed with reactive dyes, button snap closure, zippered pocket, cell phone pocket and additional pocket. $35 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Going Green
16l x 20w x 6d, 100% Cotton Canvas with 300 thread count cotton sateen lining, printed with reactive dyes, button snap closure, zippered pocket, cell phone pocket and additional pocket. $50 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red
16l x 12w x 4d, 100% Cotton Canvas with 300 thread count cotton sateen lining, printed with reactive dyes, button snap closure, zippered pocket, cell phone pocket and additional pocket. $35 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red
16l x 20w x 6d, 100% Cotton Canvas with 300 thread count cotton sateen lining, printed with reactive dyes, button snap closure, zippered pocket, cell phone pocket and additional pocket. $50 USD, Retail. Click here for more information.

Going Green
100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $15 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red
100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $15 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Going Green
100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $10 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red
100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $10 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Going Green
100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $50 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Seeing Red

100% Cotton Canvas, printed with reactive dyes. $50 USD Retail. Click here for more information.

Monday, November 10, 2008

About Alpona

Alpona or alpana is a common Indian folk art form, primarily deployed in decorating both the inside and outside of homes, temples and sometimes public buildings on religious and festive occasions. Using simple ingredients, rice powder emulsion, vegetable dye and a strip of cloth formed in a wick, the techniques of Alpona have been passed down for generations. While its sister forms are known by different names, such as Rangoli and Kolam, and used in other parts of India, Alpona is very specific to the eastern Indian subcontinent, West Bengal and Bangladesh in particular.
The name is derived from the Sanskrit word Alimpan, which literally means whitening or painting (of walls, floors etc. on festive occasions), which, in turn, derives from a root that means smearing, coating, plastering or anointing. It is believed that Alimpan predates even the Vedas1 in primitive religions and cult practices where the local inhabitants in various parts of India used paints and scribbling to appease their gods.

The Vedas themselves were full of descriptions of many rituals and as time went by, local rituals and religious practices like Alimpan merged into this body, increased the collection and eventually permeated the folk traditions all over India. Alimpan itself spread by breaking off into many regional tributaries, becoming Alpona in Eastern India, Rangoli in Western India and Kolam in Southern India and was further diversified and enriched by the numerous subcultures of each area. It appears the derivatives of Alimpan flourished along a belt bracing the seaside villages of India, slowly becoming scarce as one traveled inland away from the seas.
Alpona is a required element of religious occasions or social occasions of joy or festivity, such as weddings, Hindu communions, harvest celebrations and pujas2. Practiced primarily by womenfolk using techniques based on local customs, Alpona patterns are meant to adorn the venue of celebration. A form of worship based upon the long standing belief that the artist would express her deepest desires to the one who may fulfill these desires, an Alpona design placed at the seat of worship ensured her desires would come true. To the uneducated, nearly illiterate women who used to decorate the platforms of worship, this unspoken principle was a strong motivator for preserving the art form for almost 4000 years throughout history.

The basic Alpona consists of a symmetric design with occasional breaks in the symmetry that serve as an element of surprise, making the design unique and appealing. The prime elements of the design are simple geometrical forms, such as triangles, squares and circles and these anchor the design and give it a subtle character and a utilitarian aspect. To these elements are added many motifs, some are common across the region, some are very unique to the subculture. The elements in the Alpona design are either procedural or decorative: elements and structures of the first set are required by tradition to be present in segments of the Alpona whereas a good part of the second set is left to the imagination, training and ability of the Alpona artist. So, in a sense, an Alpona is somewhat like an Indian classical music composition where the structure is specified by the raga3 being performed, but the performer can freely improvise within that structure.
Alpona has invariably been practiced by the womenfolk of the community, primarily agrarian, and the motifs used in Alpona reflect this -- sun, crescent moon, paddy, plow, fish, betel leaves, flowers, lotus, conch shells, ducks and flowering creepers of many varieties. A peacock may show up, as may owls if the Alpona is being used on the occasion of the worship of goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, who uses owls are her carriers. Little footprints often point the way for the goddess Lakshmi to find her way from the entrance foyer to the special seat set up in her honor. Sometimes, elements are symbolic and may not have any relation to reality and are simply a form of artistic expression by the artist.
A level surface is required for Alpona such as floors and steps inside the house or in the atrium, rarely to walls and ceilings. For weddings, Alpona decorates wooden seats, rattan trays and other utensils used in the rituals; for religious ceremonies it is used to decorate the special seat of the idol, the columns in the room of worship and special earthenware used in the ceremonies. Alpona is painted in most applications, unlike Rangoli, where designs formed by piling and spreading multicolored powders are more prevalent. Alpona is usually white, the medium, known as pituli, being derived from the paste obtained by finely grinding a special type of white rice softened by soaking in cold water. The base may be colored sometimes with organic dyes, such as turmeric for yellow, spinach for green or charcoal for black, but such use is rare in Alpona.
The process of Alpona painting is very simple and unequivocally freehand. Four fingers of the dominant hand grasp a small piece of rag dipped in the pituli and the middle finger draws the design with the pituli kept flowing from the soaked rag by pressure from the other fingers. Before launching, the artist forms a broad picture in her mind of how the Alpona should look and then the painting starts, almost always from the center. She then fleshes out the design on all sides, making sure that the essential elements are placed correctly with the prescribed orientations. She also embellishes the design around them with the creative aesthetic elements, the proverbial moment where the artist expresses her desires!

With rapid urbanization and demise of the age-old traditional agrarian economy in India and the decrease in religious festivals and rituals, the concomitant weakening of crafts including Alpona should not come as a surprise. Gone are the farming villages and their womenfolk who devotedly practiced Alpona, expressing their desires in earnest and hoping for fulfillment. In its place are mass produced stickers, hastily placed on religious occasions, the meaning usually lost on younger generations.

But, even if Alpona dies as a ritualistic practice, the art form of Alpona does not need to die. While the many stairs, floors and Lakshmi's seats may be devoid of traditional Alpona, an effort to make it more secular and open to individual expression and evolution will allow Alpona to evolve into different incarnations and enjoy a much deserved revival. Artists at Shantiniketan4, the school founded by Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel-laureate poet from West Bengal have made a lot of progress in these directions, as have Muslim Bangladeshi artists. Alpona designs of OM home specifically address this need and successfully bring this venerable age-old form into twenty-first century by integrating it with the daily lifestyle of the modern home -- pillow covers, linens, bed sheets, wall murals and more with only imagination being the limit.

Help keep traditions alive. Make your home an OM home.

 Our Wedding Invitation

Photos Courtesy of Claudine Sauvé

1. Vedas are the ancient Indo-Aryan scriptures dating back to 1500 BC, considered to be the birth of Hinduism.
2. Pujas are occasions of worship where Hindus perform rituals to show respect to a particular God.
3. Ragas are frameworks for musical composition usually comprised of five or more musical notes.
4. Shantiniketan, north of Kolkata in West Bengal and centered around a University has long been a haven for artists and creative minds.

1. Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Bharatkosh Vol 1, Calcutta.
2. Sarkar, Sebanti. Stick-on art for Alpona. The Telegraph. 6 October 2006.
3. Alim, M Rafiqul. Alpana (ritual painting). Banglapedia.
4. Aroon, Preeti. "Sari Weaving Unravels in India". Foreign Policy. 30 July 2008.

Thank you to my father, Sumit Roy, for his research and write up of Alpona.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sammelan Line

Luckily, I broke my right arm and not my left, so I was able to draw my new line without much incident. Transferring it to the computer was tough (I use the mouse with my right hand), but not impossible. I'm SUPER excited about the product line and will be sure to post pictures from the NYIGF starting this Saturday.

The new “Sammelan” line refers to Banga Sammelan (Bengali Festival), but lovingly called Sammelan. The gathering is an annual festival where the North American Bengali diaspora celebrate their "Bengali"-ness every year with families, friends, music, food and nostalgia about all things that have been Bengali in some other time at some other place. Of course, traditional Alpona adorn the halls at the Sammelan and the designer chose to capture and revive, in her products, this wistfulness for days past and traditions fading. The Sammelan line uses modern colors and pattern placement to capture time-honored shapes of traditional folk Alpona --a new and exciting take on Alpona for OM home.

If you're at the show, come visit us at booth 5506 in the Handmade section.

Broken Arm? Aaah. I Got to Ride a Camel!

This picture looks CGI but it's real! I was riding a camel named Bob Marley and Sanj was on Jimi Hendrix. Our guide Rashid brought us to a valley in the Sahara Desert where we spent the night under the stars. It was a dream come true for me.

The next morning we climbed up a 100 foot dune and watched the sunrise. Because I'm emotional and everything makes me cry, it should come as no surprise that the sunrise choked me up. Sanj, always loving, pinched my cheek and told me, "that's why I love you." I wonder if he thinks that when I cry during Reality Show finales?

But I digress... Shortly after our return, I was riding my bike down the hill near my house, as I do everyday. I crossed the streetcar tracks, as I always do and then unexpectedly, my wheel got caught in the track followed by my face getting caught on the hot pavement. OUCH!

Scaphoid fracture (the worst fracture possible), broken forearm (getting worse), twisted knee (will I be able to do yoga again) and multiple bruises. Eight weeks later, I am STILL in a cast.

Seriously, in the last two years, I've learned to snowboard and surf, I rock climb and ride my bike all the time and THIS is how I break my arm? Coming home from grocery shopping? How anticlimactic.

But tonight I am excited, not sad because tomorrow morning, my cast comes off!!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nice People and Gardening

Ever since the weather warmed up, I've made it a point of smiling at every person with whom I make eye contact. This is probably a more selfish pursuit than it sounds because it is such a pleasurable experience to smile at someone and have that someone smile back. It's a simple, non threatening gesture (like small talk) but since I'm new to town, it also makes me feel like part of the community.

Believe it or not, as cultured as New York was and as cool as Montreal was, those places became home to me mainly because I became a part of the neighborhood. From the cashiers at Gristede's or the college guy helping out his dad at the Pizza place downstairs in Kip's Bay to the saucy Portuguese lady at the bakery or the Bangladeshi dishwasher on our corner in the Plateau were among the things I missed most when I left each of these homes (well, that and the murals I painted).

With each person, it started with a smile and a bonjour and this weekend, we got a taste of home here in Toronto while trolling the neighborhood looking at gardens. We're working on our own garden and needed a little inspiration and direction.

Case in Point

We came across a lovely "low maintenance" garden that we both adored so we started taking notes and pictures when to our surprise, the owner came outside! She was so sweet and spent time explaining her garden, naming all the flowers, blooming times, tips and tricks. Of course, I became overwhelmed (re: I faded out) but Sanj was right there with her writing everything down and asking questions. She must have spent an hour with us and we were so thrilled!

Of course, talking to her also gave us an idea of how much effort it actually takes to start a low maintenance garden. So, we decided it was best to do our research and build the garden up in stages.

Imagine our surprise when we found a package at our front door the next day. Our neighor had left a bag of some gardening magazines, a card and a bunch of notes on local nurseries.

Together now, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwww."

Is that the sweetest thing you've ever heard? We were so touched and inspired to work that much harder on our garden. Besides, another great way to feel like a part of the neighborhood is to be outside gardening, everyone stops to say hello!

We're so happy we have a new place to call home.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Riad Fever

Riad Najma in Marrakesh, picture courtesy of Eleanor Bird

Sanj and I are planning our trip to Morocco and have become obsessed with the amazing Riads we’ve been researching. Riads are traditional Moroccan abodes with open air central courtyards and traditional Islamic architectural design that have become a cornerstone for authentic lodging. Hidden in the maze of winding lanes and back alleys, behind relatively unassuming doors like the one pictured above, Riads are usually found in the Medina, close to the souks and market centers.

There are so many amazing spaces, it's been really hard to narrow down our selection. We admittedly cannot afford many of the places, so that's helped. We're also so grateful to have Trip Advisor to help us weed out the losers.

I would consider spending a day just Riad hopping to visit all the inspiring spaces we've seen in pictures. Here are a few of my favorite outdoor spaces, photos courtesy of each riad's website.

Courtyard at Night
An opulent haven in the middle of the medina, the Riad Al Moussika in Marrakesh is one of the more expensive places to stay ($350-$500).

Courtyard During the Day
I must have contacted Dar Cordoba in Fes at least 5 times asking them in different ways if they had availability. The inner (well, not so inner) child in me just didn't want to take "no" for an answer because this place is so beautiful and affordable. Alas, it wasn't meant to be!

Another Stunning CourtyardI picture myself sitting here having a cup of mint tea, do you think they would notice that I'm not a guest there? I love this tranquil space at Riad El Borj in Marrakesh. It's so ornate and detailed but subtle and calming at the same time, I wish I could transport it to my backyard.

We've been trying to figure out what to do with our upstairs patio and the all the beautiful terrasses we've seen are so inspiring. The space at Riyad el Cadi in Marrakesh is not as ornate or complicated as some of the others we've seen, but that's what makes it within our reach. We've been trying to figure out a nice simple way to gain some privacy and shelter from the sun and this tent is a winner! Thanks to Maryam in Marrakesh for pointing this place out to us.

Another Terrasse

While I really like the tent from the last Riad, I like the more traditional seating and lush greenery of Terrasse des Olivier in Marrakesh. This is truly an oasis in the city and one I hope to create the same lush and relaxing space at home.

There are so many more outdoor spaces that inspired me, it would take me days to go through them all! I am so, so, so excited to get out there and touch the tiles, smell the flowers, trace my fingers along the carved wood doors, accidentally leave behind an OM home pillow in our room...

As some of you already know, we've had a tough few months and we're really looking forward to spending some time away. Sanj has been so wonderful and supportive the last few months, it's amazing how tough times can bring a couple closer together. Of course, it's much less stressful and equally amazing how fun times can bring a couple closer together as well! We deserve this trip and I cannot WAIT!

Monday, May 5, 2008

OM home in the Globe and Mail

Thank you so much to Maggie Wrobel over at the Globe and Mail for her piece in this weekend's issue. What a thrill for us!!

OM home in Food & Wine

Thanks to Jessica over at Food & Wine magazine for using our Middleton Row Placemats in Loreto Sweater in their May issue.

The dessert looks delicious and makes me eager for summer to come so I can pick up fresh berries from the farmer's market. It’s the perfect topping to granola, yogurt and honey!

This dish reminds me of Bonjour Brioche, a delightful bakery & cafe down the avenue on Queen Street in Leslieville. I understand that I am an emotional person and many things make me cry (ie, norther Canadian starry nights, Terms of Endearment, Kobe beef, the final results of Pussycat Dolls presents Girlicious) but seriously, their brioche was such a welcome surprise, I cried without shame. Never mind that I had no idea what brioche was, that just added to the surprise. I can't believe how very delicious the dish was, wow! But I digress…

Thanks again Jessica!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

Once in a while you chance upon something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. We had the pleasure of such an occasion last week on our drive back from visiting family and spring snowboarding in Montreal.

Where I grew up, we have the Turnpike and Parkway but here it’s all about the 401. A means to speedily (some more speedily than others, ahem) travel from Toronto to Montreal, with time only for a few quick pit stops, most people don’t venture into the little towns scattered around the highway along the way.

Lucky for us, Sanj had a meeting in Belleville and so we, along with a visiting and newly engaged cousin from England (congratulations Radhika), spent a wonderful evening in a beautiful town. Belleville even means beautiful town in French!

Since Sanj is in the food business, our little side trip started off as a tour of a cannery, Sprague Foods. Similar to the opening sequence of Laverne & Shirley, except with cans, we were really impressed by the operation. Seriously, how often do you think about the canning process? It’s pretty neat and thankfully, super clean!

On our way to dinner, I stopped into a quaint used furnishing store, Funk & Grüven and was so thrilled to spend time getting to know the owner, Mark Malachowski and his employees. I actually LOVE small talk. Some people garden or skateboard, but my favorite hobby is small talk. Pleasant, unobtrusive conversation that’s non threatening, warm and makes people smile? I’ll take one of those, please. You learn a lot more about people then you think when you small talk and I love it.

I also love great finds! I bought this 1950’s pitcher while in the store for $30. The color stood out in the store and matches our new lights but what I really love about it is the shape!

We had dinner with Rick, the owner of Sprague Foods and his wife, Jane at a restaurant with fresh, homemade, locally stocked produce (I’ve been watching too much Gordon Ramsey), the Dinkel Family’s “Paulo’s Italian Trattoria”.

High school sweethearts and married for 25+ years, Rick and Jane were one of the nicest, most sincere couples we’ve met in a long time and it was a pleasure spending the evening with them. The best part of the night was when Sanj noticed Rick and Jane were holding hands during dinner. How sweet is that? Seriously, how often do you see that in Toronto or Montreal or New York?

A small town with big surprises for us city folk! We learned about canning, the secret to staying in love, where to shop for bargains and how lovely small towns are down the 401. We’ve even been invited to the town bash in June, celebrating 30 years in business for the Dinkel family and 10 years for Funk & Grüven. We’ll certainly be back!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Holly Dyment Design

Today I had the privilege of meeting the lovely and talented Holly Dyment who was kind enough to both invite me into her home AND to view the OM home line. While there, she *gently* reminded me that I needed to update my blog (she's right!) so I thought posting about her would be an awesome way to get back into blogging.

Our shared love of all things Tricia Guild, color and India brought us together on this wonderful spring day. After seeing her amazing house in last month's issue of Canadian House & Home, I was THRILLED to have the chance to see the live show, Holly's house is truly stunning!

Cascading down the walls in her main living space (pictured above) are different but equally vibrant faux finished murals that Holly stenciled herself. The scanned pictures here don't do the walls justice, there is so much depth to the patterns, it's like sitting in a sari shop in India watching the sari walla wave the latest styles. My favorite is pictured above, the classic Indian look of the light blue and purplish pink against the textured gold background reminds me of one of my mom's most precious saris.

I think the egg chair is the most versatile piece in the room. I love the way the chartreuse color both ties in with the wall color and accents the spicy reds, fuchsias and pinks in her living area. I also appreciate the modern touch of the egg chair and how it ties in with the zebra wood floors.

Holly's kitchen is so bright and fun! She hand painted the dining table herself using an inexpensive table as her base. It looks amazing and it's one of a kind!

The entryway itself is quite stunning but I was really thrilled by the staircase and walls, green and blue is one of my favorite combinations. I don't remember the pink bedroom but I love all things pink, especially that headboard!

The walls in the bedroom are stunning. The headboard has a similar shape as the one above but is done in a different way. It's so elegant and classic and ties in well with the look and feel of the room.

Sanj and I are planning a trip to Morocco and the wall on the right reminds me so much of Riad website that I love for it's colors and patterns, Dar Cordoba.

There were other parts of the house that aren't pictured but are equally as stunning. Holly is a kindred spirit indeed and I feel so privileged to have met her and spent time with her in her lovely home.

Holly, thanks for reminding me to update my blog!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Position Filled

Thanks to everyone who applied for the assistant position!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Sneak Preview

We've also expanded our existing lines with some new colors and products. We haven't had the chance to put it up on our website (tomorrow) yet but I wanted to share them all the same.

If you'd like ordering information, send us an email.


C.C.F.C. Table Runners Shown here in Foliage Green (new color)
100% cotton khadi, 14x42, hand silk screened, available in 7 colors, $50 USD

C.C.F.C. Poufs
Shown here in Foliage Green (new color), Living Coral and Mustang
100% cotton khadi, 26x6, machine embroidered, hidden zipper, available in 7 colors, $100 USD

C.C.F.C. Pillows
Shown here in Carmine Rose, Bachelor Blue, Living Coral and Foliage Green (new color)
100% cotton khadi, 18x18, machine embroidered, hidden zipper, available in 7 colors, $70 USD

New Market Poufs
Shown here in Carmine Rose and Living Coral
100% cotton khadi, 10x16, hand embroidered mirror work, hidden zipper, available in 4 colors, $100 USD

Mullen Street Pillows
Shown here in Living Coral (new color), Retro Mustang, Mustang and Retro Linen
100% linen, 14x14, hand embroidered, hidden zipper, available in 4 colors, $80 USD

Middleton Row Collection Sneak Peek

We're super busy getting ready for the show but I couldn't resist posting some of the pictures we took last week. We're also taking pre-orders for May delivery (see below for more information or click here). If you're going to be at the NYIGF, please come by and visit, booth 5506 in the handmade section from February 1-5 at the Jacob Javits Center. Thanks for taking a look!

Xavier's Jersey Front: Vibrant Yellow and Drizzle Gray on White

Back: White and Drizzle Gray on Vibrant Yellow
18x18 Pillow: White and Vibrant Yellow on Drizzle Gray

Front: White and Vibrant Yellow on Drizzle Gray
Back: Drizzle Gray and White on Vibrant Yellow (not shown)
Napkin: Vibrant Yellow on Natural Gray

Xavier's Primary
Front: Vibrant Yellow, Plume Blue and White on Drizzle Gray

Back: Vibrant Yellow, Plume Blue and Drizzle Gray on White
18x18 Pillow: White and Vibrant Yellow on Plume Blue

Front: White and Vibrant Yellow on Plume Blue
Back: Vibrant Yellow, Drizzle Gray and Plume Blue on Natural Gray (not shown)
Napkin: Drizzle Gray on Natural Gray

Loreto SweaterFront: Fuchsia Red and Drizzle Gray on White

Back: White and Plume Blue on Fuchsia Red
18x18 Pillow: Fuchsia Red, Bright Turquoise and Foliage Green on Natural Gray

Front: White and Plume Blue on Fuchsia Red
Back: Fuchsia Red, Bright Turquoise and Foliage Green on Natural Gray (not shown)
Napkin: Fuchsia Red on Natural Gray

Loreto UniformFront: Bright Turquoise and White on Plume

Back: Bright Turquoise on White
18x18 Pillow: Plume Blue and Bright Turquoise on Foliage Green

Front: Plume Blue and Bright Turquoise on Foliage Green
Back: Bright Turquoise on Natural Gray (not shown)
Napkin: Plume Blue on Natural Gray

Some more information about the line:

  1. Duvet Cover: Luxurious 350tc, hand silk screened, hidden button closure, reversible, $300 USD. Click here for more information or to purchase.
  2. Pillow Shams: Luxurious 400tc, hand silk screened, button closure, available in 3 designs per style, $50 USD. Click here for more information or to purchase.
  3. Pillow: 100% cotton canvas, hand silk screened, hidden zipper closure, reversible, $60 USD. Click here for more information or to purchase.
  4. Placemat: 100% cotton canvas, hand silk screened, reversible, $25 USD. Click here for more information or to purchase.
  5. Napkin: 100% cotton canvas, hand silk screened, reversible, $25 USD. Click here for more information or to purchase.