How do you approach different projects depending on their location?
A very important a spect of commercial interior design is to connect with the people through your designs. For long term growth and development it is necessary for the local population of that place to feel a strong association and attachment to the business, leading to strong consumer relations. This can be achieved initially through the designer’s creations when they take into account the local culture and traditions. Although I believe that a brand is required to maintain its identity across all platforms around the world, by incorporating a varied themes, colour schemes, furniture, furnishing etc., inspired by the local culture/tradition we can outdo our competitors and that’s what gives us our winning edge.
For me each project needs to have its own unique flavour and must develop a character that people can relate to depending on its location. I pick out a few strong local elements which I feel can be seamlessly incorporated into the design concept so as to best suit the project. For example, we incorporated gold themed interiors in a project that we completed in south India.
Where do you think the interior design trend shall head in few years?
It is very exciting to see the different trends emerging in commercial interiors. I believe that the following trends will continue in the upcoming years:
1. Biophilic design: It is the practice of incorporating elements of nature into interior design. Elements of biophillic design such as access to natural light, paintings/pictures of nature, plants etc., are increasingly being used in commercial design to benefit employees by increasing their productivity, wellbeing and helping them feel less stressed by connecting them to the natural world.
2. The use of greys: Grey will continue to trend and be a top design option as it works well with the full colour spectrum. Its uses are versatile in the design industry as designers can pair it with brighter colours or whites for a clean
3. Experimental colours: Experimenting with bold, bright & vivid colours in commercial spaces is a trend that will stay popular with designers. These adventurous colour schemes brighten up the space and keep them interesting. It engages the employees and customers and provokes creativity. It is implemented through the choice of furniture, furnishing, flooring or artwork.
4. Un-commercialise: Comfort is a top priority for commercial design. Designers prefer incorporating residential design concepts in commercial projects as employees are now spending majority of their time at work. So creating a relaxed environment at work benefits them and the organisation. The feeling of being at home is definitely one that is here to stay. Its incorporated by changing colours schemes, choices of materials, furniture, fabrics etc., which make the space less stiff and formal.
5. Spunky: This is an increasingly popular trend stemming from designers and employers who feel “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” By introducing the ‘fun’ element into a workspace designers are able to create an environment that keeps the employees fresh but more importantly, productive & motivated. While it can be visually attractive by opting for funky wall colours, artwork and plush flooring, healthier options such as treadmills, sleeping pods, gaming areas, innovative breakout spaces etc., are also available.
What have been some of your most challenging project?
I have had some pretty challenging projects in my career and each one of them has helped me appreciate the art of interior designing and grow as a designer. That being said, one of my most challenging project we’ve had so far, was designing a service station for Central Honda. The challenge was simple and clear – to maximise the number of car bays in a limited space while incorporating the lounge/office area in the same structure.
This was achieved by installing a mezzanine glass floor structure above the existing store rooms which allowed the customers to be seated in the comfort of the lounge area while looking over their cars being serviced.
What makes you stand out among other interior designers?
Observing, listening and being able to learn something new every single day is what I believe in. Interior designing isn’t a profession or a business for me. It is a way of life and an integral part of me. I do what I do because of the sheer love & passion for the subject. I treat every space as a single extraordinary experience that cannot be recreated but instead develops a distinct multi-dimensional character with style, élan and panache around the client’s individuality. I have been designing for over two decades and can proudly say that I have never repeated a look or design in any space. When you are only trying to better yourself with each project, you automatically stand out as a designer.
What are the most important things to consider when designing a retail space?
1. Branding: It is important for any retail brands and the designer, to fully understand the brand’s identity and the image that it wants to convey to its targeted customers.
2. Conceptualisation: Start by understanding the character of the brand that needs to be reflected. This must be conceptualised and expressed in the design. The goal is to achieve a powerful concept that stands out among its competitors but is still entwined with the brands DNA.
3. Space planning: A retail space is a business that eventually boils down to sales numbers. From creating the right angles to steering customers in the right directions space planning plays a huge role in boosting customer traffic and sales. Coming up with the ideal floor plan to showcase your products depending on the brands requirements are top priority.
4. Automation: Humans and technology are inseparable. For brick and mortar stores to keep up with this fact, it is almost a necessity to incorporate latest digital features in any retail space. This enhances and enriches the in house experience of the customer.
5. Budget: It is one of the most important aspects of designing as this sets the course upon which the project will move forward. It needs to be thoroughly understood by all parties and planned for. A misconception prevails that allocation of a larger budget leads to a better design product. This is not true as stores with smaller budgets can outshine their competitors with careful planning and skill.
What is the first thing you do when you need to prune the budget of a project?
Careful meticulous planning (considering the clients requirement) while organising and executing a strict timeline ensures setting and maintenance of the budget. This also takes into account wastage and contingencies. In spite of taking these efforts, sometimes, it becomes necessary to review the budget due to unforeseeable events.
In such a situation we get down to the basics and focus on what is essential for the space to maintain its aesthetics and functionality. By keeping all these elements in mind, the budget can be drastically reduced without affecting the brand’s positioning or concept design. It eventually boils down to smart use of space and resources available to the designer.