Published on March 12, 2019

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photography by aaron bengochea

Aishwarya Iyer has a thing for shelfies—the images of artfully styled bookshelves you’ll frequently see while scrolling through Instagram. Bookends might be used strategically, and a tchotchke or two (or three might) be spaced out amid a selection of tones. Typically, such shelves are found against a living room or bedroom wall, but Iyer’s is in her kitchen.

As the founder of ultra-Instagrammable brand Brightland, which currently sells two different bottles of ultra-pure, high-quality Californian olive oil (in addition to a now sold-out lemon-flavored variety), Iyer takes extra consideration where aesthetics are concerned.

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“When I take a step back and think about Brightland’s vision, I see us being the Aesop of the kitchen, creating beautiful, elevated, streamlined kitchen essentials for the forgotten pantry staples,” Iyer says. “Coming from that place, mission, and vision, it was very clear that we wanted any products we debuted with Brightland to be something that you could celebrate on your kitchen countertop or create a beautiful kitchen shelf moment. That was the basis for it.”

In Iyer’s own Los Angeles home, where she and her husband moved last August, a newly renovated kitchen provides the perfect foundation to create a personally decorated space—though, over time, the CEO finds herself making tweaks and adjustments. “Styling our kitchen is a work in progress,” she says. “Something like an open shelf can change a lot with mood and seasons or the cookbooks I’m reading at the time.”

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On her shelves, Iyer arranges sentimental pieces alongside everyday essentials to create a totally personal vignette. Her artfully displayed collection is widely varied, featuring a few favorite books, including Laura Shapiro’s What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories, a Japanese teapot that was a gift from Iyer’s sister, green tea from tea atelier Bellocq, a vintage camera found in New York, a wheelbarrow-style salad bowl, and pinch bowls from Year & Day. Of course, she notes, “No kitchen shelf is complete without bottles of Brightland.”

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For Iyer, who worked in tech and venture capital before her full-on career pivot, form cannot exist without function, and that balance is present in her kitchen.

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Simplistic-yet-elevated staples foster an environment where cooking a meal at home or hosting friends for dinner feels perfectly relaxing. A simple wooden magnetic knife strip complements the space’s subtle Scandinavian appeal, while Iyer’s collection of cutting boards does double-duty as room accessories and kitchen tools.

“I think they’re such great ways to display food, whether it’s a fruit arrangement or cheese plate, in addition to being a base for cutting vegetables and other food,” she says. “There’s an angled board I love from Material Kitchen—it’s gorgeous, and when you’re pouring vegetables—like onions—into a stock pot, it’s at an angle, so they don’t spill out onto the sides.”

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The kitchen is the heart of Iyer’s home—both architecturally and figuratively. No matter what the occasion, the meal, or the company, she wanted it to feel special.

“At the end of the day, anytime people host dinner parties, they always end up congregating in the kitchen,” she says. “I wanted it to be a place where you could lean against the countertops and be in the middle of everything. I also wanted it to be a place where, if we wanted to sit and have a meal at the countertop, we could totally do that and it would still be charming.”

See more inspiring kitchens:
Bri Emery’s Stunning New Kitchen Features the Most Genius IKEA Hack
This Food Blogger’s Striking Pink Kitchen Will Fuel Your Appetite for a Makeover
Inside a Blue-Tile Dream Kitchen Built From Scratch

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