The term ‘traditional pop art’ comes to mind when you walk through any space designed by Mumbai-based designer Shabnam Gupta, the principal at the firm The Orange Lane.
Shabnam’s most admirable trait is that she doesn’t fall in line and drudge the beaten path; her work makes a distinctive statement and that emerges from her gift to visualise and experiment. Her close connection with nature is evident in the acute sensitivity with which she approaches a space.
Shabnam’s derived inspiration doesn’t solely feature in the form of ornamental aesthetics, but reflects through the abundant sunlight that pours in her spaces. Her ability to visualise and transform mundane objects and reclaimed materials into a collector’s item has fast become her signature stroke.
Shabnam breathes life into a space with her personalised touch and her quirky colourful accents. Her defined sense of function combined with a touch of unconventional ethnicity lends a certain personality to every project.
Shabnam is also the co-owner of a retail venture, Peacock Life, a one-stop lifestyle store that offers a flavour of her eclectic inclination.
In this interview Shabnam talks about design, inspirations and her future plans. Here’s a peek into Shabnam’s kaleidoscopic world.
Tell us about your journey as a designer. How has your practice evolved and is there one virtue that you continue to hold on to?
My journey as a designer has actually been about evolving as a person as much as about design. The practice has evolved with younger talent being infused with fresher ideas. The one virtue that I continue to hold on to naturally is my enthusiasm and motivation for new ideas.
You are known for your eclectic style, but what stands out is your ability to visualise. Is it difficult to convince clients to experiment a little and deviate from the conventional path?
All clients are different in their outlook. Having said that, even the common man is now exposed to a lot of sound design from around the country and world. And so it gets easier for us designers to put across ideas which can be readily absorbed. Eventually, I think it becomes a very constructive journey for both the client and the designer.
Metros like Mumbai are increasingly facing the predicament of ever shrinking square footage. What are the dos and don’ts that you follow when you design for small spaces?
Fluidity becomes essential when designing for small spaces. Whether residential or otherwise, merging spaces to reduce compartmentalising is half the battle won. For example, open kitchens, living cum dining spaces, etc. visually make the spaces look larger.
With changing trends and constantly evolving design perceptions how does a designer manage to maintain his/her individuality in their designs?
Design always has space for innovation. Personally, drawing inspiration from nature, tradition, art, etc., keeps me going and helps me in maintaining the balance of my individual style while still letting in some current trends.
Things that inspire you (apart from design/architecture) that stimulate your design cells.
I am heavily inspired by nature and its forms, shapes and colours. Traditional art and architecture play a significant role in shaping my designs.
A medium you wish to explore in your designs in the future…
Siporex blocks, silk and other cloth for furniture, fine art or hand painted art on furniture.
According to you what are the three design essentials in a home and what are the best ways to achieve it?
Natural light, landscape and colour. Maximising natural light by maintaining large windows and planning furniture in spaces around it livens up the home.
Elements like small water bodies, vertical gardens, potted or hanging plants, etc., help bring nature into the house. Coloured furniture, natural breathable fabrics, lime washed walls and textured stone flooring are a few materials that add colour to the home.
Tell us about Peacock Life. What are your future plans for the retail line?
We have big plans for Peacock Life! We just opened in Pune, and are in the process of opening a couple more stores in Mumbai too. Plans are to make Peacock Life a medium for young and budding designers from all genres of design to come together to exhibit creativity.
It will become your ‘go-to’ store for all kinds of lifestyle products, from furniture to lighting, to all home requirements under one roof. I will also be retailing collections designed by me. It will be like going to an interior designer’s self-designed lifestyle product store.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a couple of pubs in the city. We also have some interesting residential farmhouses and bungalow projects in hand.
A project which remains very close to your heart and why?
That would undoubtedly be a project I did in 2011, in Juhu, Mumbai. It is a duplex apartment with eclectic interiors and a strong interior-exterior connection. The concept for the space was to be eclectic with ethnic and Spanish influences. Detail in design, material choices and overall conceptualisation bound the space together seamlessly.
The home was envisaged to be a vivid world of colour and an array of materials, which we managed to achieve quite smoothly. I am also very closely attached to Jimmy Hu, a bar we designed in Pune.
Both these projects won our firm best interior spaces in the residential and hospitality category at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014.
On a lighter note…One place in the city which makes you say “it’s good to be here.”
Things you enjoy doing when not working…
Unwinding with my kids.
Interview by Shweta Salvi