Travel + Leisure - India & South Asia

Devika Narain

DESIGNING DREAMS

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Ever since the ‘Virushka’ wedding went viral, Devika Narain and Company has etched itself on the wish lists of many betrothed couples. Its founder speaks with RASHIMA NAGPAL about the humble beginnings of her dream, the challenges of designing destinatio­n weddings, and her grand plans for the future.

As a young girl, did you have an idea about the kind of woman you’d like to become?

I was brought up in a community of strong women—my aunts, mother, and grandmothe­rs. They encouraged me to be my own person. From a young age, my mother made sure I learned that women need to make their own money. I was encouraged to make my own decisions. I don’t have a typical career, and I think I owe it to the people who raised me. The 13-year-old me would be proud of where I am today, even though the 30-year-old me feels that I have miles to go. When you’re young, you have a vision for your life, and I was very clear that I wanted a creative life. I knew I wasn’t going to do a nine-to-five job. I can’t wear a suit to work; I wanted to wear my saris, big bindis, and work in the arts. I managed to find a field where all of that overlaps beautifull­y.

When did the idea of Devika Narain and Company first come to mind?

I’d been working in the wedding space for four and a half years. I remember being at a wedding where I didn’t even know the names of the bride and groom. Something clicked there. I wanted to create weddings that were more personal, fun, and Indian. In 2014, when I had just quit my job, it was just three to four of us girls. I had four chairs around my dining table and didn’t have money for a fifth one. In 2015, we made things official and became Devika Narain and Company (devikanara­inandcompa­ny.com).

Why did you choose to be in the business of weddings?

I wanted to study interior [design] and architectu­re, and I thought that if I can draw a straight line, then I’d put myself in a design school. But that clearly never happened (laughs). On the other hand, I absolutely love weddings; I’m that aunty who, if you tell me you’re getting married, sits next to you to talk about what we can do. So, weddings became a Venn-diagram space where I could do spatial design. Today, we design installati­ons, stores, and hopefully one day, I can do a film set or homes. And I can hire architects who can draw straight lines (laughs).

What is a day at work like?

No two days of my life are ever the same. The office days are where I wake up early, eat breakfast, take my dog for a walk, and head to work. Through the day, we throw ideas at each other, brainstorm, plan for upcoming weddings, and design them. Our non-office days involve going on recces and meeting people. We work a lot with artists and craftsmen, sitting in their studios and figuring out how to make certain things. For example, once we were in Kashmir and I wanted to use local flowers. We spent the day looking for cherry blossoms and tulips. We went from house to house, asking for a couple of stems [each] to create a full space. There are days that are slightly boring, when we’re just standing and watching a structure go up.

When you face challenges who do you turn to for advice?

My friends, parents, and husband (Joseph Radhik, the celebrity wedding photograph­er). One of my biggest achievemen­ts is that I’ve managed to build a strong support system. I have always had people rooting for me—who, when required, also say, “You messed this up, go fix it.” I gain perspectiv­e from each one of them, and I value that.

When you started your business seven years ago, did you imagine that you would become the sought-after designer you are today?

I hoped I would. If you ask me [today] what I will be doing in 30 years, I will tell you some weird, grand ideas, and I hope I can get to those places. There were no plans of having a grand business [when I began]. I just put my head into it and worked. That’s what I believe in doing even today. Everything else was a by-product and continues to be so.

What are your plans for the next 30 years then?

I want to design cities! I have absolutely no skill to do that at the moment. I have a simple belief that the world we live in should be beautiful. I want to dedicate my life to doing that. Beauty should not come with a price tag. I hope that some day I can make products, design cities, homes, and, who knows, maybe tech too!

Destinatio­ns on your bucket list?

The next thing I want to do is go on a road trip across India. I want to visit tiny villages and meet local craftsmen because there’s so much that we have within our own country.

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The entreprene­ur each wedding unique. craftsmen to make
artisans and works with local The entreprene­ur each wedding unique. craftsmen to make
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Narain launched her wedding design company in 2015.

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