The serendipitous tale of how the Vizha’s team joined forces is one of destiny, friendship, and passion for designing. Once course batchmates, now business partners – Akash Muralidharan, Darshini Narayanan, and Sanjana Susaritha Ravi – embarked on a journey at MIDAS Chennai to make their mark in the field of Architecture. While their paths diverged after graduation, fate had a different course charted for them.
A couple of years ago, it was Darshini’s wedding that brought them together again, and little did they know that this would be the start of something fruitful. As they worked together to create a memorable wedding, the passion for their respective crafts shone through. Sanjana’s eye for detail and design, Akash’s culinary expertise, and Darshini’s creative flair all blended together in perfect harmony.
Their combined interest and ideology culminated in the inception of Vizha which was born sometime in April 2021. The event curation company gradually kicked off with a focus on weddings where they could contribute to design, textiles, and food, but the team soon found themselves collaborating on various art-related projects.
Staying true to the roots
With time, the team discovered a shared love for Tamil and all things local. Day and night of brainstorming innovative ways to introduce the concept of the Tamil calendar that’s been a sentimental part of their childhood to a modern audience paved the way for one of their initial passion projects, the Vizha Dinner. “We wanted to begin with Tamil calendars that hold a special place in households, associated with sentiments and planning for auspicious occasions. In January 2022, my team and I decided to create a Tamil calendar with a contemporary touch but soon realized that we lacked the relevant information needed for our research. That’s when we came up with the idea to host a dinner, inviting people to share their knowledge and connection with Tamil traditions, all in the hope of evoking nostalgia,” offers Akash.
The Vizha dinner series, so far, has been a collection of four exquisite dinner events inspired by the seasonal changes of the Tamil months. The trio grouped three months together to represent a quarter and hosted a delightful dinner that celebrated the flavors and ingredients of each season, sourced locally. “For the Tamil month of Puratasi, which is typically associated with fasting, we included a mock meat dish that showcased the practice of abstaining from non-vegetarian food. Similarly, the month of Aadi, which celebrates agriculture and the abundance of Cauvery river, served as a muse for us to reinvent the traditional Koozh that’s typically served during the month. We carefully selected the venues for our dinners based on the theme. For instance, we hosted a summer dinner at my grandparent’s farm and another one at Darshini’s house. To align with our ManVasanai theme, we even held a dinner at an unconstructed building to create an earthy atmosphere,” explains Sanjana.
Their first dinner was a trial round, consisting of individuals from their social circle. However, for subsequent dinners, the team carefully selected participants based on their familiarity with the theme and eagerness to delve deeper into the experience beyond just a simple tasting session. “It was incredible to witness the enthusiasm and passion our guests had for preserving and sharing our Tamil culture. The experience was truly enriching and helped us bring our vision for the Tamil calendar to life. The conversations held over the dinner table revolved around the significance of the Tamil months, adding a cultural and educational aspect to the culinary experience,” he adds.
With a passion for exploration and a hunger for knowledge, this trio is always on the lookout for innovative ways to learn and grow. Whether it’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen, experimenting with textiles, or unleashing their creative prowess on design projects, Sanjana, Akash, and Darshini are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
As a multidisciplinary design team, Vizha’s core is not easily definable. They prefer not to put themselves in a box. “We take pride in being called event curators instead of event managers. This is what sets us apart from the rest. Weddings are one of our specialties, and we pay attention to every detail, from printing invitations to selecting return gifts. We curate the menu and design the bride and groom’s trousseau to make their special day grand. Our approach is holistic and focused on delivering the best possible experience for our clients,” emphasizes Darshini. The team has wedding projects lined up until July.
The team takes pride in its sustainable practices, using natural materials, and supporting local artisans. “As a team, we don’t label ourselves as simply sustainable or eco-friendly. These words are often casually thrown around without much thought behind them. Instead, we prioritize consciousness in everything we do. Our brand’s mascot, the vaazhai maram (banana tree), represents prosperity and reminds us to celebrate every part of life. We understand that the wedding industry as a whole isn’t sustainable, but we make a concerted effort to source and incorporate local materials whenever possible. By closely working with artisans, each experience we curate is filled with unique takeaways. Seeing their dedication and focus on their craft is truly inspiring, and helping them revive forgotten art has brought us immense joy. We believe that as modern consumers, it’s important to recognise that sustainability often comes at a higher cost, but it’s a price worth paying for a better future,” elaborates Darshini.
Of collaboration and camaraderie
Besides weddings, Vizha has carved a name for creative styling for food products, clothing brands, and restaurants. They recently launched an in-house product called Seetu Kattu (playing cards) with elements from each Tamil month. They also have a clothing line, Udai. The team takes things as they come and aligns them with projects that reflect their design and thought process. When it comes to selecting clients, Vizha is keen on being on the same page. They prefer clients who aren’t too authoritative, allowing them space to experiment and explore. Ethics is also key, and some things are non-negotiable. “At Vizha, we don’t compromise on the clients we work with. We expect them to collaborate with us, share our ideologies, and work together to achieve the common vision. We’ve been delighted with the overwhelming response on social media for our work. Our website, which will showcase all our projects, is currently under construction. We’re also excited to create an exclusive Instagram page to give people a sneak peek into our curation process,” assures Darshini.
The team’s magnum opus Tamil calendar project saw the light of the day on Tamil New Year. “Our journey at Vizha has been a joyous celebration of life, design, and all the experiences in between. At the heart of our success lies our unwavering commitment to team spirit, which has propelled us forward each step of the way. We believe in the power of constructive criticism, and each of us has stepped out of our comfort zones to explore uncharted territories over the past two years. With this attitude, we are confident that we can achieve great things and collaborate with individuals from all around the world,” sums up Akash. And as they look to the future, they do so with excitement and anticipation, knowing that come what may, they will tide through together. Their journey is a testament to the power of how the universe has a way of bringing like-minded individuals together to create something truly magical.