Owning a Vinita Chaitanya designed home or corporate space immediately catapults you into an exclusive zone. Her design firm, Prism, is 25 years strong and brilliantly reflects her personal branding. Vinita’s own homes and glamorous lifestyle give her an insider’s edge into what ultimate luxury is all about. Combined with a thorough mastery of her craft, she creates livable art. It is a collaboration of her clients’ requirements with her artistic vision that she converts into bespoke, sublime spaces. She delightfully layers different cultures and periods and her travels give her fresh inspiration for each project. Archana Shenoy meets the eclectic designer from Bengaluru.
Vinita Chaitanya’s work ethic goes beyond interior design to a unique vertical that defines her and separates her from the rest – her passionate involvement in each project from concept through to delivery. This holistic vision starts from a bare shell to completing a home with not only furniture and fittings, but with a connoisseur’s eye for art and accessories. This also extends to coordinating fresh flowers with crockery and linen and even lining up the bookshelves.
All that the stress free owner needs to do is walk in and attend his own housewarming party, which Vinita has even hosted on occasion! Over the years her clients have trusted and repeated her, for reinventing their current homes and styling new ones. Today, she is possibly the only top celebrity interior designer in the country to offer such personalised service to her clients.
Having moved around a lot during her formative years Vinita feels it was the lifestyle that her parents enjoyed that actually defined her love for luxury and all things stylish. “My father was with ITC and we lived in beautiful British colonial bungalows, with bearers waiting on us, using the best crockery and cutlery. It was such a huge part of my life and I think it was these impressions that had a lasting effect on me,” she says.
She began her career more than twenty-five years ago in Bengaluru. “I trained for three and half years with the Oberoi Group in their design department in Calcutta and in 1988, when I moved to Bengaluru, Dr. Vijay Mallya offered me a chance to design the McDowells office on Cunningham Road and there has been no looking back since then,” she says.
She has since amassed a client list that includes some of the country’s biggest names – NR Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Prakash Padukone, V.G. Siddhartha, Ajit Nambiar, Jitu Virwani, Sudarshan and Reva Maini, Sandeep and Gita Maini, MB Patil (Water Resources Minister, Government of Karnataka) and Ashok Genomal. According to her, working with diverse people can be quite a challenge. “Kiran and her husband John, for example, have a huge collection of Indian and European art,” she says. “While doing up their home, I had over 1,000 pieces of art to select from and group. This was a tough call.”
The home of Jitu Virwani of the Embassy Group from Bengaluru, remains one of her most exciting projects till date. Located on the outskirts of the city with the Embassy Riding School on one side Vinita says that the scale and space of the property completely inspired her. “The client gave me the wings to do some of my best work,” she says, describing how the house is spread over approximately 15,000 square feet of space with extensive gardens. “You can see horses from the riding school grazing around the periphery of the property,” she explains in a delighted tone.
According to Vinita each of the homes designed by her is different and has an individuality and character of its own. “I work with various styles, but contemporary classic best describes my work,” she says. “For me its all about symmetry, balance and proportion. I find mixing contemporary furniture with ‘Indian’ art and artifacts very challenging. I feel this particular style works really well and in India we have a great heritage to choose from.”
She loves to travel and as she caters to extremely well travelled clients who are well aware of international design trends, Vinita does her best to stay abreast. “I travel to the Milan ‘Salone’ fair and the Paris ‘Maison and Objet’ fair every year and also visit London and New York frequently. This exposure is very important and helps me source furniture and accessories from all over the world. I restrict the number of projects that I take up, so I can be personally involved in all of them. I will only work on projects which excite me and fuel my creativity,” she says.
The Icing On The Cake
It was when Vinita designed Deepika Padukone’s Mumbai flat that she was catapulted to the limelight for being the woman who put together a home fit for a star. “I wanted the house to reflect Deepika’s star status. Hence I went for rich tones of Bordeaux and gold and used an eclectic mix of art and contemporary Indian artefacts,” says the stylish 52-year-old interior designer.
According to her, the actress’ home is the reflection of her personality. The entire space of 3,000 plus square feet has been done up to showcase the confluence of western and indigenous ideas and style. “Deepika’s home is modern, yet traditional, much like the lady herself,” tells the designer. So happy with the job done by the designer, the actress took things a step further when she commissioned Vinita to convert her basic bus-like vanity van into a luxury space where she could relax and unwind during shoots. “I met Deepika once on the sets of Chennai Express and she showed me her vanity van – or in this case the bus that she used as a vanity van. It shocked me to see the basic condition of the vehicle – the plain vinyl floors and plastic sides. She wanted me to transform her van into a more luxurious space befitting her star image,” she explains.
It took the talented designer six months to transform the standard 52-seater bus into a plush space for the star. “I knew nothing about buses; I had to sit with the driver and understand the aerodynamics of the bus before I could begin working on it. I have scrounged around in the boonies of Mumbai to source parts, work with welders and window makers etc., before I could give Deepika what she wanted,” Vinita. The end result was a chic, well-compartmentalized vehicle with a soundproofed private space for the actress, a relaxing area for her staff including a pantry and a washroom, a private loo and shower area for Deepika, as well as closet space and a make-up area. “This is by far one of the most challenging projects I have done,” says the designer.
Her Personal Style
Judging by the kind of spaces she designs it comes as no surprise that Vinita Chaitanya’s own home is an accurate reflection of the designer’s personality.
Her apartment on Convent Road, one of the most centrally located residential areas in the city, is classic. With black and white marble chequered floors, each wall in the house tells a story of its own. Her love for contemporary furniture is evident as the living areas are filled with such pieces – Philippe Starck ‘Louis Ghost’ chairs, a brilliant Barouvier & Toso hand blown chandelier that she picked up in Milan and eclectic pieces of art ranging from charcoal sketches to modern nudes.
She also has an amazing weekend home in Chetalli, Coorg, that comprises a huge part of her life. It is where Vinita loves to take off to relax – she calls it her space where she feels rejuvenated and can get back to nature. Along with her husband, the couple has adopted a government primary school in the area and enjoys the philanthropic work that they indulge in whenever they take a break and head to their sanctuary.
The lady herself is stylish to boot. Her choice in fashion ranges from vintage to edgy contemporary looks. An avid swimmer and fitness junkie, she looks at least ten years younger than she is and has the energy and vision of a youthful free thinker.
Married to M.N. Chaitanya, Vinita says that she and her husband dated for eight long years before finally tying the knot. “We were friends first before we became a couple, and to this day, 25 years hence, we remain friends,” she tells.
Her daughter Diya is 24 and has completed her Masters in marketing and merchandising of luxury from Paris. “I enjoy the company of my husband and daughter,” she tells. “Chai is a Kannada Brahmin and me, a Sindhi from Shikarpur, yet the cultural differences didn’t matter at all. But I do love Bengaluru and have many wonderful friends in this city. It’s home to me….,” she ends on a high note.