In your dreams

Ever wonder what Padma Laxmi’s boudoir looks like? Well, stop your fevered imaginings and take a look at this recent issue of Harper’s Bazaar (how apposite) which showcases the 38 year old model/actress/author/jewelry designer/TV personality’s East Village apartment. (Courtesy of limeduck, who reads apartment therapy so that I don’t have to)

The decoration that has received the most attention is the giant painting of Padma herself right above her bed:

(The portrait was painted by her friend Francesco Clemente, an Italian painter who splits his time between New York, Italy, and Madras.)

It’s not just the painting though. It also looks like Padma uses her own picture as either screen saver or background image on her computer.

While I would never decorate with enlarged pictures of myself, Padma’s work product is her image, and so she’s simply surrounding herself with her professional output, like a movie producer decorating with posters from films that they made. On the other hand …

Sorry, I totally forgot what I was saying. Have you noticed how hot it is in here? I think I’ll go open a window …

74 thoughts on “In your dreams

  1. 36 · Ennis said

    but I’d never seen a single person swing like that. Is that also traditional?

    When a single person does it, it generally isn’t called swinging. Speaking of which, with mortgages and the economy the way it is, is she looking for a roommate?

  2. I’m that assiduous monkey, thank you very much.

    Thanks macaca. Don’t know how I missed that in the post. Purdy blog you got there. Sorting books-by-color seems to be a recent interior decoration meme. Just started seeing that over the past couple years, perhaps in a couple Indian design magazines.

  3. 52 · portmanteau said

    I’m that assiduous monkey, thank you very much.
    Thanks macaca. Don’t know how I missed that in the post. Purdy blog you got there. Sorting books-by-color seems to be a recent interior decoration meme. Just started seeing that over the past couple years, perhaps in a couple Indian design magazines.

    Wouldn’t you rather sort them in ways that makes it easy to find the book you want?

    I paid my 5 year old nephew $20 to alphabetize all three of my bookshelves. I’d hate to have to spend $20 more to have him do it again by color.

  4. Hardwood, though, is nice. Does it not work in the tropics? Is wood just too expensive there?

    Recently, people have started using treated (fire-resistant) wood or faux-wood flooring. When people in desh build homes, especially those that belong to older generations, there is an obsession with ‘pukka’ or cement based construction. Other materials feel ‘makeshift’* to that generation. The symbols of affluence, even now, are marble, granite, or mosaic floors. And they are more practical since they can be cleaned everyday by rougher means, and remain cool in the summers. Forgive me, I love flooring design in South Asia (this grandeur is possible, of course, because labor is relatively cheap; I hope this changes as standard of living rises).

    Wood is less expensive in the tropics because it is produced there; the better kinds of wood like mahogany and teak are tropical. In the subcontinent, the himalayas and the foothills provide coniferous wood too. Then there is cane furniture. Again, if you shopped for wood furniture in South Asia, you’d see a lot more variety in design and wood types and great pieces at a much lower cost. Again, that is because carpenters and craftsmen are paid relatively lower wages. Incidentally, labor supply in these professions is still relatively caste-based.

    • It is a point of pride among older Indians (like my grandparents’ age) to boast about how long it takes for construction workers to break their home when they begin new renovations. They’ll tell you how the quality of construction and the materials were so much stronger in the older days.
  5. Wood is less expensive in the tropics because it is produced there; the better kinds of wood like mahogany and teak are tropical.

    You use mahogany and teak for furniture though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen floors.

    Good point about the cool in the summer thing. That alone must be a huge advantage, but stone flooring is just so hard on your feet.

    Incidentally, labor supply in these professions is still relatively caste-based.

    It seems like a hard profession to just take up. It’s not like the Indian government spends much effort on vocational schooling. It would make sense that such training would end up being done through an informal apprenticeship system and family connections are how those kinds of things happen. So the castes that were traditionally carpenters train their children also to be carpenters. If you have the skill-set and other opportunities are sufficiently risky why not?

    Forgive me, I love flooring design in South Asia (this grandeur is possible, of course, because labor is relatively cheap; I hope this changes as standard of living rises).

    I’d rather hope for being able to replace cheap labor with technology so that high standards of living and grandeur are both possible.

  6. I’d rather hope for being able to replace cheap labor with technology so that high standards of living and grandeur are both possible

    Well, a combination of labor and technology, maybe? I’d like for their expertise to be rewarded, and technology will allow for business expansion and the ability to take up many projects simultaneously. This time in Delhi, I’m seeing a neighbor renovate wood fittings. The carpenters are here all day, hacking away with rusty saws. It is just so physically taxing to do this manually, and it takes forever. I am happy that these people are employed now, but even with a modest capital infusion could produce more yield from time and labor. Of course, technology substitution would require constant electricity supply, which is still a problem.

    Meanwhile, teak and mahogany wood flooring is available, should you desire it :)

    who would have known that padma lakshmi would lead to a discussion on wood? oh, wait…..

  7. a few comments:

    having a swing in your house is SOOO south indian. all the stylin’ bungalows in cochin have one. granted, they’re more like velvet upholstered swing settees.

    space is king in nyc and although padma may be making big bucks as of late, a really huge kitchen in a prime location in NYC is for the likes of mariah carey or robert deniro. padma is not in that league, financially.

    some have commented that it’s a lil over the top or ostentatious for her to have a self-portrait over her bed, but it was a gift! she didn’t self-commission it a la samantha SATC. (although, i agree with JOAT, she’s smoking hot enough to!) secondly, isn’t it more ostentatious to hang a self-portrait in the living room where everyone can see it vs. her private bedroom where it’s only seen by herself or her lover? I mean it was made for her by a famous artist, should she just chuck it in storage for the fear of looking over the top in a magazine article?

    (btw, when i read the comments about the portrait being over the top, it totally flashed me back to a 90210 moment when kelly taylor had the warhol-esque picture of herself hanging in her room.)

  8. I mean it was made for her by a famous artist, should she just chuck it in storage for the fear of looking over the top in a magazine article?

    Yes.

    Wood is less expensive in the tropics because it is produced there; the better kinds of wood like mahogany and teak are tropical. In the subcontinent, the himalayas and the foothills provide coniferous wood too. Then there is cane furniture. Again, if you shopped for wood furniture in South Asia, you’d see a lot more variety in design and wood types and great pieces at a much lower cost. Again, that is because carpenters and craftsmen are paid relatively lower wages. Incidentally, labor supply in these professions is still relatively caste-based.

    My god, sister port, is there anything you don’t know? I’d rather read an article about you than this P.L. woman. So what’s hanging over your bed? Is your swing wooden or is it of the velvet variety? Are your books arranged alphabetically or by color? Did I mention I’m happy to hear your valentine to India was a big success ; )

    (Seriously, I’m happy for Padma’s fame and well-appointed home but there are some far more interesting women commenting on this blog.)

  9. having a swing in your house is SOOO south indian. all the stylin’ bungalows in cochin have one. granted, they’re more like velvet upholstered swing settees.

    You know I haven’t been to too many traditional south Indian homes but I thought this was super common among Gujarati’s. Even all the Gujju’s I know in the US have swings in everyones house. I love it. I’m considering getting one of these for my balcony for this summer. I saw them in South Beach and just loved how two people can cozy up in there. But when I get a house I’m getting a swing like all my gujju friends. So fun.

    space is king in nyc and although padma may be making big bucks as of late, a really huge kitchen in a prime location in NYC is for the likes of mariah carey or robert deniro. padma is not in that league, financially.

    You know I’m not sure that’s really true. Padma Laxmi was shopping around for $8K-$10K a month rental apartments two years ago after splitting with Rushdie and she has substantial money. She has a fine jewelry line debuting at Bergdorfs in Spring that runs upto $6K a piece. Ms Laxmi is not hurting for money. And shit if I could rent a apartment on the cheap with a massive kitchen, certainly she can hence the confusion.

  10. So what’s hanging over your bed?

    actually, it’s a nude woman with her back to the viewer. i think it’s charcoal, and its one of my dad’s earliest sketches (1977). i hope i inherit it :)

    and you’re far too generous with your compliments. can’t beat dear padma: i think i’m as tall as her legs.

  11. You know I’m not sure that’s really true. Padma Laxmi was shopping around for $8K-$10K a month rental apartments two years ago after splitting with Rushdie and she has substantial money. She has a fine jewelry line debuting at Bergdorfs in Spring that runs upto $6K a piece. Ms Laxmi is not hurting for money. And shit if I could rent a apartment on the cheap with a massive kitchen, certainly she can hence the confusion.

    I totally believe she’s able to look at $8-$10k rentals, but you’d be surprised what that gets you in her area or areas in Tribeca, etc. I was reading a NYPost article about Olivia Palermo’s Tribeca apartment that’s half the rent and accordingly, half the size of Padma’s. It actually looked microscopic in comparision! And she’s paying 4k a month!

    Padma did mention she’s eyeing the entire townhome next door.

  12. can I help everyone with a budget of $8-$10K look for apartments in Manhattan? I have some in my area that may be twice as big and don’t go for anywhere as much in this market.

  13. I’m afraid I might seem like a douche, but you can get monthly furnished rental at hotels for a better price. For people who havent lived in hotels, its the best thing ever. Scatter your shoes everywhere before you go to work and when you come back they’re neatly place in the closet. 63 · umber desi said

    can I help everyone with a budget of $8-$10K look for apartments in Manhattan? I have some in my area that may be twice as big and don’t go for anywhere as much in this market.
  14. “Discussion of narcissism aside, does anybody else find it odd she seems to sort her books by color? (in the shelf in the swing room if you can move your eyes a bit to the right for a moment) Well, at least she doesn’t seem to be putting books on the floor.”

    Yes, but has she actually read any of them, especially the ones that don’t have pictures of her in or on them?

  15. The wonderful Mrs. Ela Bhatt, profiled in today’s Times too shares Padma Laksmi’s little whimsy:

    Mrs. Bhatt’s Gandhian approach is most evident in the way she lives. Her two-bedroom bungalow is small and spare. The one bit of whimsy is a white swing that hangs from the ceiling in the center of the living room. She uses her bed as a desk chair. Her grandson has painted a child’s pastoral mural on the bedroom wall. She is known for having no indulgences.
  16. she’s just beautiful; she looks like a goddess herself! plus, the painting does her justice.

  17. Padma Laxmi is a caste-minded hypocrite. She always brings up the fact that she’s NOT a Tamil, but in fact, a Tamil Brahmin. As a hypocrite, she abstains from eating meat, but she has no problem with that carcass in her living room.

  18. Padma Laxmi was at Basement Bhangra the other night. She can’t dance very well. I randomly kept screaming out “Top Chef” and “Quickfire Challenge!” every few minutes.

  19. 68 · boston_mahesh said

    but she has no problem with that carcass in her living room

    i thought she and salman broke up?

  20. 71 · Rahul said

    which is why he is in the living room.

    well, considering he’s a carcass now, perhaps she’s taken to eating salman the way other’s have to eating rahul.

  21. 72 · Manju said

    eating rahul.

    alright, it’s really not a family friendly conversation anymore once you start talking about swinging, and padma eating rahul. and ve are nothing if not family friendly.