Five Indian interior designers offer tips on making the most of your home

A house in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, designed by Studio Lotus (Photo by Ravi Asrani)

Strict lockdowns all over the world have kept people indoors for the past few months. Even though many countries are starting to relax their rules, the phenomenon of home-based living is likely to endure far beyond these enforced periods of confinements.

We spoke to a few interior designers about learning to love the indoor spaces of our homes…

A residence in New Delhi that Studio Lotus converted from an office into a 2,000 sq. ft villa (Photo by Randhir Singh)

Pankhuri Goel has been at New Delhi’s multi-award-winning interdisciplinary practice Studio Lotus for a decade. She now leads its interior design team, which covers areas like retail, homes, hotels and workplaces. Recent projects include the home of an art collector couple in Mauritius and The Quorum, a members club in Gurgaon.

With the pandemic keeping us indoors, Goel believes our homes need to act as sanctuaries that promote physical and mental well-being. “I have been preoccupied with creating comfortable little nooks around my house where I can unwind, read a book, and enjoy a cup of tea,” she says. “These interventions help create a sense of discovery and a renewed appreciation for the spaces one might otherwise take for granted.”

“My work space has been my constant,” continues Goel. “It brings a sense of self-discipline to my day and enables me to retreat into a quiet, intimate space.”

House in a Garden, designed by Studio Lotus, located in Mauritius (Photo by Karl Ahnee)

Ravi Vazirani designed this Mumbai apartment which features a Pierre Jeanneret chair from Mahendra Doshi Antiques, as well as a bronze cocktail table fashioned by the studio itself

The interior designer Ravi Vazirani is known for his minimalist approach and use of muted colours.

His boutique studio, located in Mumbai’s trendy Bandra district, has designed homes for clients ranging from Bollywood stars to power couples from India’s business world.

In 2019 Vazirani was included in Architectural Digest India’s list of the 100 most influential architects and interior designers.

Vazirani suggests finding ways not to spend too much time on the sofa while living in lockdown. “In addition to my original desk in my bedroom, I’ve also set up a desk in my living room,” he says. “I alternate between the two desks several times a day.”

“I’m using the entire house in a way I have never needed to before,” he says. “I live alone, so I have the luxury of spreading out and creating different zones.”

A Jaipur Rugs showroom designed by Ravi Vazirani, featuring a reclaimed bookshelf from Jaipur and other antique items from Jodhpur

A blue Gervasoni stool and a Le Corbusier kangaroo chair are found in this apartment designed by Ravi Vazirani

For Disha Bhavsar and Shivani Ajmera at Quirk Studio, now is the time to rearrange your indoor space.

“Start by picking a room and looking at the furniture layout,” they say. “Consider shifting a shelf or a chair that you think would look better at another angle or in another corner.”

“Add greenery via planters,” they continue, “as these bring in a sense of whimsy and life to the indoors, and add to the positivity of the space.”

Bhavsar and Ajmera met while working together at Elle Décor India. They joined forces to set up their own interior design boutique in 2013, with the aim of breaking away from conventional ideas of luxury, opting instead for a quirkier creative style that catered to more modern notions of comfort.

The pair also conducts workshops for young, aspiring designers looking to break into the industry.

House No.12, designed by Quirk Studio for a young couple in Mumbai’s Khar suburb, features a wall crafted of handmade tiles from World of Stones, creating depth and texture (Photo by Kunal Bhatia)

Quirk Studio placed armchairs by Phantom Hands in the living room, as well as a concrete, dome-shaped coffee table at the centre, while a wooden ceiling overhead addd a sense of warmth to the modern, monochromatic space (Photo by Kunal Bhatia)

Fresh tones of pink, yellow and mint are coupled with the warm shade of teak wood in this apartment designed by Studio Nishita Kadmar (Photo by Studio Kunal Bhatia)

Designer and architect Nishita Kamdar is an advocate for a utilitarian approach to interiors.

She believes that this period of confinement is making us turn over a new leaf when it comes to home designs, with people truly understanding the importance of things like natural light, ventilation and practical furniture.

“Functional spaces are the call of the hour,” she says – “like smart furniture pieces that can double up and are multipurpose; or a study desk next to the window which allows you to work from home in a correct posture; or multiple light sources with different intensities to create different moods based on the time of the day.”

Kamdar set up her practice in 2014 under the principle that well-designed spaces should not just look good but feel good, appealing to several different human senses. The studio has worked on holiday homes, standalone architectural projects, residential interiors and commercial spaces.

Kamdar also forms part of Pieces of Desire, a furniture design collective of architects and artisans bringing together Indian craft traditions with modern ideas.

The Blau Haus, designed by Studio Nishita Kamdar for a creative couple in Mumbai, had to be warm, fun and toddler-friendly (Photo by Sameer Chawda)

The stylish residence of designer Sarah Sham, located in Mumbai, where she works for clients all over the world

Sarah Sham, founder of Essajees Atelier, says there are many easy ways to be creative during lockdown.

“You can rearrange all your books on the shelves by colour,” she says. “You can upcycle and fix up broken or unused items or furniture. Or you can even create some art using newspaper and supplies available at home.”

Sham’s independent interior design studio in Mumbai, founded in 2014, was born from Essajees, an art and antiques dealership over 100 years old. Her residential projects range from large holiday homes to small studio apartments and plush duplex houses.

Sham has also worked as an art consultant, putting together extensive portfolios of contemporary Indian art for homes and offices in India and abroad.

“Our homes have always been sacred spaces for us, and lockdown has taught us this even more so,” continues Sham. “If you are locked up for months with nothing to see but the four walls of your home, you should be happy with what you are looking at. If you aren’t, it’s time to give your home the treatment it deserves.”

Sarah Sham’s living room features Pierre Jeanneret Chandigarh chairs and rugs from Weaver India and Jaipur Rugs, while a series of artworks by photographer Kuber Shah hangs on the wall