When Mumbai-based Mehek Malhotra founded her studio, Giggling Monkey, in 2017, she was still in college. A talent for eclectic, colourful design and an immaculate work ethic meant she soon started working with brands such as Levi’s, Adidas, Tinder, Facebook, and musicians like the band When Chai Met Toast as well as the Berklee Indian Ensemble.
Malhotra is also the India creative lead at Canva, the online design tool and app, was most recently on the magazine Rolling Stone's Power 25 List of Women Creatives in 2023.
On a video call with Lounge, Malhotra talks about how she makes sure her workspace is primed for efficiency, how she values her time, and her love of softly-lit spaces.Edited excerpts.
At this moment, my workplace is in boxes, as I’m moving to Dehradun! Ordinarily, there’s a desk, a chair, and a lot of computers for work and personal projects. There’s always water near my workstation – no other liquid works – and I always have to drink from a glass and not a bottle. I also love surrounding myself with small objects to give me company when I’m working, like Russian dolls, a Kathakali bobblehead and the book Weak Messages Create Bad Situations, as a daily reminder of responsibility of having a voice. It’s a lot of colour and chaos – but that’s what ties the whole thing together. I also use a specific playlist that I get obsessed with – right now, I’m listening to one called ‘Sad Girl Starter Pack’!
I’m not a religious person, but I treat my workspace like a temple. Every time I go in, I first clean the table, make sure all the right tools are in the right places and write my to-do list – I’m very old school, I write everything down. Even my Google Chrome tabs are organised!
I’ve realized how much I value time. Every piece takes as long as it takes – you can’t rush it. People who want rushed work will forget the work in five years. I also like rushed work less – my relationship with the work changes if I have to hurry through it. I think that’s also one of the things I dislike about Mumbai – there’s no way to see that time is passing, to tell the seasons apart.
I’m beginning to think about the relationship between my work and my health. In the long term I want to do the changes that are healthy for me. Do you know, I got a special Herman Miller chair for a less disturbed back? My cats love it. It’s the best thing I got myself as an adult. People buy jewelry and get married, and I got a chair!
Lamps! I always like having nice soft lighting. I feel that it keeps the intention of the work very clear. I also like a lot of sunshine in my space. I think good light makes you take good decisions.
Rush Mukherjee is a writer based in Kolkata.
Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces.