Film-maker and scenographer Aradhana Seth takes us through her incredible home in Goa
It is a repository of memories — from her travels, the films she’s been a part of, and cherished family history
Her career has taken her all over the world, but visual artist, film-maker and scenographer Aradhana Seth chose Goa as her home back in the late 2000s. Being on-location for The Bourne Supremacy, as the film’s art director, a few years earlier, altered her experience of Goa “…as not just a holiday destination, but also one to which I could come back, live and work in,” she says, from her warm, minimal space in Aldona, north Goa. “I find that I manage to be very productive here, without the stresses of urban living.” Seth’s house originally belonged to a priest, Father Faria, and she has kept many of its original details intact — the shell windows, the old wooden beams, the Minton floor tiles in the sala, and even Faria’s altar. While some of the furniture is sourced from antique shops and old cinemas, many pieces, like the monks bench (her favourite), are from her parents’ home in Delhi. The bench, incidentally, has been in every home Seth has ever lived in, from Washington DC to LA, Vienna, Delhi, and now, Goa.
“I find that I manage to be productive here [in Goa], without the stresses of urban living,” she says.
Personal style: “Eclectic”
On her bookshelf: “Art, design, film, photography, philosophy, fiction and non-fiction”
Currently reading: “Memorial by Bruce Wagner”
For someone who seems to revel in slow living (“I love the sea, fresh seafood, Mankurad mangoes, long walks and relaxed conversations, the freedom to wear what one wants, spontaneous cups of coffee with neighbours…”), Seth has amassed an incredible filmography. Her first project as a production designer was Deepa Mehta’s 1996 film, Fire. She has also made over 18 documentaries and even co-produced a photography book, India Mexico: Parallel Winds, featuring the work of Sebastião Salgado, Graciela Iturbide and Raghu Rai. In various capacities, she has worked on notable films like The Hungry, Angry Indian Goddesses, West Is West, Everybody Says I’m Fine!, London Has Fallen, Stiff Upper Lips, The Bourne Supremacy, and most famously, Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. What was it like to work with the Oscar-winning director? “He has one of the most original voices today. It was a privilege and a pleasure,” she says. Currently, Seth is busy with the BBC adaptation of her brother-author Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, a mini-series that is being helmed by Mira Nair. Meanwhile, she is content to soak in the sound of barges and the afternoon light that shafts through her studio windows.
Aradhana Seth in her dining room.
The slat-effect window was created in collaboration with her friend, Italian architect Annalisa Bellettati. The dining table is made from old Goan doors. The wood, nawar and plastic chairs were sourced from a small-town cinema. The stainless steel vase is by American designer Michael Aram. The artwork on the wall, Azaadi Zindagi, a combination of text on metal, is Seth’s own.
From left: The floor-lamp is from the Austrian Museum Of Applied Arts/Contemporary Arts in Vienna. The bottle on the table was made and gifted to her by the artist Subodh Gupta. The low table with the books is a re-purposed beam from the house’s ceiling.
The plates are from Kate Spade, and were used in The Bourne Supremacy for Jason Bourne’s Goa home. The soup bowls are from Seth’s parents’ home in Delhi.
Seth in her living room, next to a planter’s chair that originally belonged to Father Faria.
A corner of her study: the topmost image of a hand-painted airplane appears in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited.
The bed and chair are both Goan antiques. The bookshelf contains her fiction collection. The hand-embroidered artwork on the wall is from all over India (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Benares), and appears in West Is West.
The guest bedroom, which also houses the library. On the wall is an old map of India. The muslin curtain features in Angry Indian Goddesses.
Seth’s bathroom, with its hammam-like feel.
The fish combs, made of bone, are from Kochi.
The dollhouse is called Kaleidoscope House and is by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright. It can be spotted in the film, Easy. The little metal masks are from a market Mysore. The hedgehog paper-holder is a gift from her brother, Vikram Seth.
Photographs: Fabien Charuau
Art direction: Mrudul Pathak Kundu