Welcome to our first Free Spirits feature, where every person and their home have a story to tell. Each month, we sit with a different member of the Freedom Tree Tribe, and delve into how their creativity spills into their interiors and lives. Inaugurating the series is Ayesha Kumar, an artist who brings soul and ritual to daily life.
Little Rituals and Artistic Living
The entryway to Ayesha’s picturesque ground floor apartment welcomes us to a charming living and dining room with a monochrome-tiled floor, striking art on the wall, and an eclectic mix of prints that manage to effortlessly harmonize. Looking around, there’s a lot to see - a reflection of Ayesha’s many passions layered into an intimate yet immensely inviting space.
Soon after we sit down, delicate cups of hot tea nesting in saucers with tiny gold stirring spoons are served. Next, come decorative plates and bowls filled with savory bites and an iced-lavender cake. Ensconced within the warmth of Ayesha's hospitality, we hear how her love of hosting has been passed down through generations, giving way to rituals that have been lovingly formed and followed through the years.
As Ayesha recalls stories of her grandfather, the highly sociable governor of Jammu & Kashmir whom she spent every summer with, she notes that the art of hosting was embedded within her from childhood. As she grew older, she watched her mother organize dinner parties for small groups and large: Planning menus with feel-good dishes prepared in specific ways to enhance their flavors; setting elegant tables that brought a sense of festivity to the occasion; and always taking the time to make each guest feel special.
Family dinners were treated with similar care, spanning over two hours and through various courses while they all caught up on each other's day. Adopting the same ethos, Ayesha lays out her beautiful table linen daily. It's an act of love for her family and a celebration of good design everyday.
Fresh flowers bloom on the coffee table
Refreshments are served with our Ogee Dots napkins
Rituals of the Host
The large-hearted generosity required to embrace people into her home comes naturally to Ayesha and her restaurateur brother AD Singh, who have spent much of their time cooking memorable experiences for loved ones. Gathering around the table is a ritual - and one of many that we get to be privy to this afternoon.
In Ayesha's home, a sense of ritual belies every gesture and infuses every corner. Chai is elaborately served in ornamental cups, bunches of flowers are sprinkled across various surfaces, and a dresser topped with pictures of Bhagwanji in tin frames (passed down from her mother) invites you to seek blessings before leaving the house. Each of these rituals feels like a reward, creating a moment of silence and space to stop, admire, and appreciate.
Artistic Instincts and
The most captivating rooms are a by-product of their owners' passions, and Ayesha’s is no different. The dresser that forms her pooja corner is brimming with fabrics and clothes of her own design. The colors surrounding us - on the walls, in the many paintings, and in the patterned furnishings - channel her artistic instincts and the hues she is instinctively drawn to. Three decades ago, when Ayesha and her husband decided to buy their house, she immediately knew she would canvas it in blue.
Today, amongst the burnt orange walls and colorful paraphernalia, shades of blue still run through the interiors, beginning with the painted blue dresser and teal Para Para lamp perched beside it. The dining room chairs (whose form inspired our own AY chair!) are upholstered in the same floral Para Para fabric, while the classic cobalt Wonderland curtains frame the living room windows. Where blue really hits its stride, though, is the master bedroom, where the bed linen and curtains are washed in the watery blue strokes of Jiva.
Much of the mix-and-match here is inspired by sentiment - a fusion of color and pattern that reflects Ayesha’s free-spirited sensibility. Her favorite prints are used in as many ways as possible across the soft furnishings (including her car seats!). A row of framed paintings by her younger daughter and best friend proudly take center stage in the dining room. The first artwork Ayesha and her husband bought still hangs on a distressfully-painted wall by the sofa. All around, unique mementos collected over the years are artfully arranged and imbued with significance. This is a home with plenty of space to reflect everything (and everyone) Ayesha loves.
The Pooja corner that lights up the house with the AY-inspired chair and our Para fabric
Our Jiva print covers the bedroom quilt and curtains
A harmony of blue patterns in the living room
Ayesha’s illustrations explode with linework and color.
Today, Ayesha’s creative impulses flow onto the drawing pad, where her newest love emerges from strokes of electric linework and color. A lockdown-era drawing class with artist Arzam Khambatta fueled an exhilarating series of illustrations charging with energy. The ritual of creating one drawing a day now results in an impressive array of eye candy that we couldn’t pass up. Look out for one of her sketches debuting in our next collection!
For Ayesha, her life and her home are a non-stop journey, and one where imagination and originality undeniably hold sway.