Aishwarya Iyer hasn't always been handy in the kitchen.
"I lived in New York during my early 20s and had a spreadsheet of 600 or so restaurants that I tracked obsessively — needless to say, I didn't cook much," laughs the Brightland olive oil founder.
"I started cooking after getting into a relationship, and noticed that my partner and I were getting a lot of stomach aches. We eliminated most of the usual suspects from our diets — you know, the cheese and the bread — as it turned out, olive oil was the culprit."
Nowadays, Iyer is doing her best to change all that. The entrepreneur proudly launched an American-made, no-nasties extra virgin olive oil (or EVOO, to the initiated) in June of last year.
"We now have three hero products, and work with a handful of incredibly supportive retailers — everyone from Goop, Huckberry, Need Supply Co. and Neiman Marcus — we have a pretty exciting project in the works with Sweetgreen, too."
Open the cranberry pink front door and step over the threshold into Iyer's airy California home, and it becomes pretty obvious that food lies at the heart of what she does. An expansive, open plan kitchen — complete with raw oak shelves, white subway tiles, and a marble island — set the tone for Iyer's pared-back, California home.
"Our home is nearly 100 years old," explains the entrepreneur.
"It’s at the center of the city and in an area of town that has a deep, incredibly rich multi-cultural history."
Iyer — who shares her home with her husband and beloved pup, Crosby — moved into her freshly renovated home as it currently stands. There were no odd jobs to be done, tweaks to be made, or DIY projects left on the back-burner. The sunlit Los Angeles address offered Iyer the perfect launch pad to get stuck into her pet project, and now thriving business.
"I did some research and was shocked to learn that most of the olive oil that Americans consume is rotten, rancid, or adulterated," Iyer emphatically explains. "I knew I wanted to do something about it, I just wasn’t entirely sure what that looked like. After moving to California, I decided to champion beautiful extra virgin olive oil that is also modern, elevated, and has character — I guess that's where my Brightland journey began."
The couple's crisp, monochromatic kitchen is conveniently bestowed with everything a contemporary culinary hub should be. Matte black hardware, a deep butler's sink, wide open windows that pour with natural light, and a trio of minimal brass pendants hovering overhead. Iyer is all too aware that the couple got lucky, moving into a home that already ticked all of their boxes.
"The kitchen is the first place I enter after waking up, usually to make a pot of morning tea. I like to wake up and watch the sun shine in," Iyer explains. "This is so important to me. The space is integral to what I do — but I don’t think either of us realized just how central our kitchen was until after we moved in."
The couple's dedicated dining area — neighboring the kitchen — includes sinuous archways and a striking Tom Dixon pendant light, a round dining table by Restoration Hardware, and upholstered gray dining chairs, sourced via Room & Board. Layered vintage runners sourced from trips to India decorate the floor, and it's here where you'll find Iyer's favorite new purchase — an ornate white vintage bar trolley salvaged from a garage sale in Venice Beach.
"The open flow of our home and the sunlight that shines in provides me with so much inspiration and creative energy," explains Iyer, when asked how her home informs her role as an entrepreneur. Launching a business, moving coasts, and scouting your dream home is no easy feat, yet Iyer is quick to add that she takes no credit for the home's seamless approach to good design. The styling, on the other hand, is testament to Iyer's own pared-back aesthetic.
"I didn't have a whole lot of design rules," she explains. "Although I really wanted to stay away from darker, cherry-toned woods and thoughtless, chunky furniture."
Instead, Iyer opts for lighter, lived-in pieces with clean lines, an approach that flows throughout her home's living spaces and into the black and white bathroom and airy bedrooms.
"I love that there is a separate wing of our house for the guest bedroom and study," she adds, of her approach to space. "This way, the bedrooms aren't clustered together."
Adhering to a strictly black and white style code, Iyer's bathroom echoes her preference for a clean, contemporary approach. Geometric black floor tiles complement the floor-to-ceiling subway brick, while a single bulb keeps the room aglow. Matte black hardware, a white marble counter, and minimal cabinetry ensure there's nothing weighted about this space.
A gridded, French door shower, and smaller geometric tiling decorates the floor, providing stark contrast to the clean white surrounds. One overarching style note — which is hard to ignore — is Iyer's penchant for good lighting, something the entrepreneur has remained mindful of upholding throughout her home.
"I truly believe that lighting always sets the mood, it sets the scene," she explains. "You'll notice we have dimmers on every light in the house, which is a great way to create the ambience you want for a specific moment or evening."
Layers of cool gray and muted neutrals soften the couple's bedroom, complete with a modern, upholstered West Elm bed and twin nightstands. A sheepskin by Room & Board adds an element of warmth, while a cozy alpaca throw by Morrow Soft Goods drapes over the bed.
For Iyer though, home is much more than a place to showcase her favorite bits and pieces. It's her first point of reference, a place to dream and foster fresh ideas.
When asked how she views good design, Iyer articulately borrows from designer Ilse Crawford.
"Design is not just a visual thing, it’s a thought process — it's a skill. Ultimately, design is a skill to enhance our humanity," she smiles. "It’s a frame for life."