For a populace steeped rich in culture and tradition, as Bengalis, our love for festivals comes as little surprise. Be it Eid, any of the numerous Poojas, Christmas, Pohela Boishakh, New Year's or Valentines, an excuse to celebrate seems always around the corner. And with these year-round celebrations come year-long excuses to overhaul our wardrobes and opt for completely new looks.
This drastic change to physical appearance however need not be restricted to wardrobes only, for what remains outside our closets can also do with festival-induced makeovers: our walls, our rooms, our houses, our homes.
Because it is both imprudent and infeasible to prescribe all-altering changes to furniture and other major elements on a yearly basis, this Eid our pick is to invest in small changes that make big differences. Changes in shapes and forms. Changes with a theme concentrating on circles, stripes and dots.
Circles have a very profound relationship with our existence and surroundings. The sun, moon, and planets of our solar system are all in near-circular shapes. And the circle constitutes part of the iconography of a diverse array of religions including the Pagan holy wreath, the Buddhist wheel, the Yin Yang symbol of Taoism, and the halo predominant in Christian religious art. Much of this symbolism can be seen to influence design work such as the Yin Yang balance that is evoked by many well-known brands, or the use of the halo to represent purity.
As decoration and ornaments make a comeback in the work of contemporary designers, decorative circles are gaining popularity in graphics, interiors and fashion. Although perfectly symmetrical spots, dots, and circles are rarely common in nature, many flowers become complete circles once they are in bloom. Thus, the circle can be seen to represent an element completion and perfection in nature.
Nature works as a guide to design in many ways by virtue of its symbolism. The black spots on leopards work to provide an alert to danger and similarly, the high-contrast red and black spot combination on ladybugs is often associated with poison. On the other hand, in peacocks spots act as an anti-camouflage of sorts, with brightly coloured feathers designed to attract peahens during courtship.
In décor, motif circles have long played a significant role. Red and white spotted toadstools are often depicted as cute and funny in cartoons, round pumpkins are highly popular during Halloween and circles, spots and dots are also used to denote an element of funk.
Certain aspects of childhood too are associated with spots such as multi-coloured marbles, bright yellow smiley faces, and the domino-style dots on Lego bricks.
Resultantly, designers have always taken the opportunity to use these motifs for décor in children's room toys corners, walls, and fabric furnishing. The three circles that make up Mickey Mouse's head and ears is perhaps one of the most widely-loved images of all.
This Eid our home décor prescriptions are based on simple and economic options. Since the living room is arguably the most public room in the house and hence the one in which guests are expected to be entertained, dressing up sofas or a rearrangement of paintings, photographs and other accessories will go a long way in terms of revamping visitors' longest point of contact.
We suggest simple printed fabric with red, white and black dots for cushion covers, adorned with colourful buttons. Wooden buttons, large coat-sized buttons and tiny bright-coloured buttons all work well as cushion cover embellishments.
A round wall clock in a black and white combination, some circular red candles, or a blue Chinese plate can turn a mundane toned room into one with a bold composition.
In terms of shapes and forms, it is also important to sort through some sort of order or coordination. For example, round shaped handmade place mats with a colourful circular vase on top complement a square coffee table.
Apart from spots, dots and circles, striped fabrics and furnishing can also be used for cushion covers and sofa upholstery.
Stripes provide the most widely used and enduring of patterns and they have become such familiar sights on walls, columns, clothes, art, flags and even nature, that they provide a highly versatile communication tool. Timeless, gender-neutral, and appealing to all ages, they are perhaps the simplest of design motifs that create maximum effect.
Classic stripes are those that can be found in our everyday lives. Categorised broadly into garments stripes and domestic stripes, these classics incorporate the two staples of our clothes and our homes.
With the living room taken care of, the next area of focus shifts to the dining room, especially during festival time when food is a major part of the celebratory chain of events.
A new table cloth, runner, tea set or even mere plates and serving dishes can set the scene for any meal. Cups and plates in either bright stripes or spots can have an attractive aesthetic impact. Eid, the biggest of our religious festivals is the perfect time to cash in on offers and invest in quality ceramics for your china cabinet.
The use of stripes can also be extended to your walls for a dramatic effect-opt for lemon yellow or a rust orange colour chart to bring some change to mundane beige. Or stripes can be incorporated into walls in children's rooms in thin designs like lollypops.
Striped bedcovers look very smart and trendy with solid bed sheets just as striped or checked cushion covers go well with solid coloured sofas. Decorative pillows can give your home an excellently coordinated or completely contrasting look and feel depending on what colour, design or shape you choose.
Large cushions can also double up as floor seats when you have lots of guests around and our local Grameen check and handloom fabrics in their vibrant hues can easily be used to this end.
Mugha silk cushion covers also work wonders on sofas. Placing large comfy cushions on the floor, carpet, floor mat or satranji can give a cozy comfortable corner.
In the end, your home is your personal space and quite possibly your most loved personal space of all. Thus, full liberty to choose any theme for décor is warranted so far as creating your comfort zone and expressing your individuality are concerned.
However, a little guidance often helps in striking the right rhythm or promoting the right pattern. So break free and opt for bright colours and bold patterns and transform your home from mundane to magic this Eid!
By Nazneen Haque Mimi
Photo Credit: Sazzad Ibne Sayed