Q & A Session: Vandana Rawat, Head Designer at Tulips

Tulips’ head designer Vandana has become a go-to interpreter of art nouveau’s many facets. Whether it’s the New York loft design inspired bachelorette pad of actress Parineeti Chopra or the well-curated Balinese influenced vacation home of a pharma magnate, she is known for interjecting interiors with her raw and refined aesthetics whilst maintaining her cool-headed elegance. We caught up with Vandana to learn about the things that she lusts after and what makes her tick.

Hi Vandana, could you tell a bit about yourself to our readers?

Hi, I am Vandana and I am a Textile Designer by profession but more of an artist at heart. I graduated from India’s premier design institute, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad and completed exchange semester from École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD), Paris. 

My fixation with nature and fascination for beautiful textured surfaces prompted me to enter the world of design. My work is influenced by traditional Indian crafts, textiles and architecture; to be honest I always find ways to use my favorite elements in my creations. I guess when you find your passion, you automatically work towards developing your own modus operandi, and in my case I use my textile sensitivity and aesthetics in spatial context with textile as space modifier.

What is a typical day for you at Tulips like?

Tulips isn’t really a work space for me as I have always considered it more of a design studio where I disconnect myself from the outer-world and engage with my inner self to meditate on my approach for the project in hand.

Every project I work on presents itself as a new challenge and helps me unearth various concepts and new possibilities. The best part is working with different materials and mediums to develop products with our craftsmen who go the whole nine yards to create beautiful masterpieces. My typical day at Tulips starts with interacting with clients, understanding their requirements, building concepts around their needs, and most importantly, mobilizing the unstopping juggernaut of the production team to set the tailoring process in motion.

What are the trends that you have seen emerge recently in the interior world?

All the traditionally used materials are enjoying resurgence, like terra-cotta and exposed brick. The use of stone is becoming ubiquitous too, and is moving from floor to furniture. Copper and antique finishes are being favored for burlap upholstery and jute rugs, as opposed to their conventional accompaniments. Keeping in line with this, clients are now exploring natural textile options like linens, cottons, bamboo, and other natural fibers. People’s interest in artisanal products is mushrooming; they no longer want to buy products that were rattled off in no time or DIYs but pieces of art that are made with patient hands, precision, and passion.


(Image source: Pinterest)

What is your design signature/style?

If I have to classify, it would be a blend of art nouveau and eclectic.

Art nouveau inspires me to derive a stylized abstract version from patterns or prints. Very often while designing we need to come up with co-ordinates to complement the decor.Aping the same element for decor is unadventurous and uninteresting, which is why I opt for stylizing. I modify patterns to coordinate and create subtle associations with the print/pattern.


(Image source: Pinterest)

Eclectic style encompasses a variety of styles and can be composed with arrays of colors, textures, shapes, and finishes. The palette can vary, but I think it’s best to stick to a few neutrals to help tie all the elements together. Working with these approaches, help me put together various concepts to bring about a curated sense of chaos in interiors.I love to work with texts, patterns, print, and appliques and toss them against neutral textured backdrop.


(Image source: Pinterest)

Can you tell us about a particularly exciting/challenging project?

I have been really lucky to work on diverse projects as they all have enabled me to be more versatile and uninhibited. I was very thrilled to do Mr. Vinod Jadhav’s vacation home. It’s always great to work with clients who give you the creative latitude for design exploration and Mr. Jadhav and his family gave me plentiful of it. As a textile designer, I have immense love for traditional prints and textiles and this project allowed me to put together surfaces in the most unconventional manner possible.


I used soft sheer fabrics with customized embroidery to create glass sandwiching (a style that is unique to Tulips). I along with my design team cladded wardrobe doors with raw silk fabrics of complementing hues with mirrors in between them. I developed personalized Ikat patterns to adorn the sliding shutters for windows.Everything came together just perfectly and what seemed like an intimidating task at the onset was executed effortlessly, well of course, it goes without saying that it all happened because of the concerted effort of the entire team.


If someone reading this was about to embark on their own home design project, what would be your best advice to them?

One doesn’t really need to be an artist or designer to do up their space. Your home is your personal canvas;there’s no one scheme or look that you need to subscribe to or set of rules that need to be adhered to. The trick is to just follow your intuition and invest in products that will fit your life for years to come. Our homes are like antidotes to the stressful professional lives we live in this day and age so I think we don’t need to make it more complicated than it already is by cluttering it with unnecessary décor pieces and furniture. Go for a splash of green;bring in the magic of botany through potted plants and terrariums for a down-to-earth rustic charm.


5 Quick fire questions with Vandana


1. Bold colors or muted colors?



2. Plain or pattern?



3. My interior inspiration comes from…



4. What’s your ultimate interior hate?

bold jacquards


5. What would be the sound track to your life?

I am alive!



The toil and joy of Toile de Jouy: Surface design technique

Have you ever found yourself in a quagmire where putting tongue to your thoughts seemed like the most difficult thing in the world? Well, it keeps happening to us all the time, especially when we are exposed to something awesome and pretty and divine. Our design team comprising the resourceful quasi-hobbit humans is perpetually in search of decorative textile arts. On one such quest, they tumbled on toile or what is also known to many as ‘toile de Jouy’.

For those of you who don’t know what toile de Jouy is, here is a glorious specimen of it –


(Image source: Pinterest)

Toile has been around for centuries now. Its popularity, though in state of flux, carries on like a classic style that stands tall, come peaks or valleys. Just like the storied vignettes, the patterned fabric itself has emerged from a rich yarn.

Toile de Jouy which translates as cloth from Jouy, gets its name from a small village called Jouy-en-Josas. Located just a few kilometers away from France, this place is important to our narrative as this is where our protagonist, Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf birthed this marvel. So let us familiarize you with the premise of this eventful story.

With East India Company’s burgeoning presence in the market, it was only a matter of time for indigenous specialities from other countries to make their way into Europe. Indiennes or Indian cottons voyaged to France in the 16th century and people took instant shining to them as they ticked all the right boxes – they bore exotic flora and fauna prints, came in varied colors that didn’t fade easily, and most importantly were easy to maintain.


(Image source: Pinterest)

The indiennes quickly usurped the spots held by national players like woolen and silk, something which obviously didn’t bode well for the future of local textile manufacturers. Sensing the potential damage it could wreak on local business, France announced a complete embargo on cotton thereby preventing its domestic production and importation. Like all banned things, cotton too, though officially prohibited, took to unofficial ways to satisfy its demand. It came to be produced surreptitiously until 1759, the year when the ban was revoked. Here is where our protagonist, Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf enters.


(Image source: Pinterest)

Oberkampf, a budding colorist, and engraver of German descent, immigrated to Jouy-en-Josas from Switzerland with his brother. He knew a certain monsieur Tavanne, a gentleman whose financial wherewithal, and unending support enabled Oberkampf to set up his own factory in the village.

Jouy being a strategic location, afforded Oberkampf a slew of benefits – water of river Bièvre for dyeing, vast expanse of meadows for drying, and its close proximity to Versailles which presented him the opportunity of establishing lucrative business relationship with royals and rich.


(Image source: Pinterest)

When Oberkampf and his coterie started with the manufacturing facility, it boasted nothing more than a printing press which they used as a piece of furniture to sleep on. But as luck would have it, Oberkampf’s new fabric patterns became a sensation sooner than he could have possibly imagined.

Oberkampf developed prints that were the zeitgeist of the moment, like for example, when he started off, people were still not over the floral prints which came with the Indiennes, so he continued printing exotic florals in different colors. As one trend du jour came to be supplanted by another, the prints on toiles too underwent adaptations so that it could appeal to current taste. Pastoral scenes, chinoiserie designs, mythological scenes, political messages, and scientific advancements featured on toiles, making them rich documentaries of transitioning trends and events.


(Image source: Pinterest)

The same followed with printing methods. Initially, Oberkampf used wooden blocks to print motifs on cotton. He applied mordant on the blocks, a chemical used to affix the dyes to the fabric. After the mordant was printed onto the fabric, it would then be plunged into a dye bath to let it chemically react with salts. Colors would emerge from the areas covered with mordant. The fabric would be washed again and spread out in the meadows for bleaching in the sunlight until it looked like this –


(Image source: Pinterest)

In 1770, Oberkampf borrowed a novel printing technology using copper plates from Ireland. This new printing technique allowed for wider designs, intricate shade work, fine lines, and variegated repeated patterns. While copperplate printing permitted only single color print, more colors would be added later using hand-painting or over-printing.

While Oberkampf collaborated with some of the most renowned artists and designers of his day, it was, however, his partnership with the multi-hyphenate Jean-Baptiste Huet that remains popular even to this day.

This textile marvel wasn’t just constricted to Europe but also reached other parts of the world and quickly became the most sought-after. Toile was introduced to the New World (America) by none other than Benjamin Franklin who was so smitten by the printed fabric that he managed to wiggle one artisan out of England despite the ban that prohibited local English artisans from traveling abroad.

This is quite a story, isn’t it?


Our Delhi store – a locus of colors, patterns, and creativity

While we have been happily helping our clients with gleaning ideas for their interiors and bringing their creative visions to life through our stores in Pune and Bangalore, we always wanted to set up one in the capital city. And we did last year! So our Delhi store is the newest addition to the brood and latest entrant in the mix at the posh locale of Defense colony.

An effervescing hub, our Delhi store palpitates with expressive colors, exquisite patterns, and endless possibilities. It is a dreamy lair where architects, clients, and designers come together to bandy ideas and co-create. Sited in a 5000 square feet of Delhi’s urban expanse and spread over two floors, the store provides an apt setting for imaginative thinking.

Couched in the language of traditional Indian textile art, our Delhi store houses all the beautiful things we love – bolts of fabrics, surface ornamentation technique swatches, installations, artworks, objet d’arts, and haberdashery. Each nook, corner, alcove, and crevice of the store has something to tell – be that our zardosi adda where our karigars work their mojo to create painstakingly elaborate designs to the textile art that captures Delhi’s iconic Mughal architecture in detailed threadwork.

Like this area of the store which is draped in 6 fabric panels, each paying an artistic ode to India’s rich heritage textile craft.


The first panel takes inspiration from Madhubani art, a painting technique done using natural materials and dyes. Two hand-painted Piscean motifs adorn the white surface in vibrant and exciting hues which are fleshed out using multiple stitchery techniques.


Inspired from miniature paintings of India, this panel is hand-painted on circular patches of green silk, and further appliqued on a quilted grey silk fabric.


Created using Nilgiri’s embroidery art of Toda, this fabric panel features demarcated embroidered blocks containing simple geometric shapes which are appliqued on a white fabric.


The fourth panel also inspired from Madhubani art features elaborately embroidered pavonine motifs which are surrounded by profuse creepers using aari threadwork.


This panel takes inspiration from Pichwai, a painterly style that illustrates Shrinathji in different moods and backdrops. Encircled in 3D petals, Shrinathji’s visage is bedecked in Swarovski crystals and pearls.


The last fabric panel features lotus motifs that are printed and embroidered with shaded thread work all over the peach linen fabric.


The abundant theme of the store’s interior is Indian textile art, which is felt everywhere through forms, textures, materials, fine embellishments and presentation. Manned by interior design and décor specialists, the meeting room is designed to facilitate consultative engagement. It is surrounded by three walls evincing textile stories which stand in lockstep with each other as visually arresting montages.

The first wall represents the culture and colors of ‘Purani Dilli’ through different fabric printing techniques.


The second wall features the elaborate works of art and architecture commissioned by the Mughal Empire using Zardosi embroidery.


The third wall celebrates the spirit of the impeccable planning of Central Delhi by Sir Edward Lutyens using the textile art of fabric patchwork.


In addition to this, the store also boasts an array of artistic installations and artwork like –


After endless nights spent in our Pune workshop, scrounging for the perfect fabrics and materials, sense of humor fails, tears and sweats, and occasional finger piercings, we were successful in executing one of our biggest projects – our Delhi store.

We’d like to thank all our designers, interior specialists, and craftsmen who bent over backwards to make the store look and feel beautiful. Look at their happy faces below


Here are the brains behind our Delhi store –

Textile artwork conceptualization, design, and coordination by Shristika Singh

Embroidery team:

Md. Sujat Sheik

Md. Tamanna Sheik

Md. Iftekar siddique

Md. Mohinul haq

Md. Sajid Mansoori

Tailoring team:

Robert David

Deepak Doma

Drapery team:

Md. Akram Sheikh and team

Md. Shamsher sheikh and team

And of course, I don’t want to bury the lead by failing to mention our Founder and Managing Director, Raajkumarri Mutha and  Director, Sidarrth Mutha. Their support and guidance gave our design team the much needed spurts of energy when things got a little too tight.