Known for her out-of-the-box work, ace interior designer Shabnam Gupta is head-over-heels in love with her job that makes her life as vibrant as her designs and keeps her new forever
The detailing that goes into any of her work speaks volumes about her passion for her work and that is just the signature. Juggling the roles of a mother, a home-maker and a renowned interior designer, Shabnam Gupta is full of quirks and surprises. In a tete-a-tete, she shares little more than what the world knows about her personality, choices and ideology.
Q. What was the turning point in your life that served as a stepping stone into the world of design?
I come from a family with television and film background and no experience in designing. As a kid, I was a tomboy and my strong-headedness made my parents really apprehensive about my future. My father got me enrolled into a home-science course despite me having no interest or say in it. And as my first project, I was asked to sew a baby’s dress, and that was the final nail in the coffin. I knew, I cannot continue with it. I quit home science shortly after and signed up for a professional design course.
Q. Tell us one thing that sets you apart from other contemporaries?
I don’t know about others so may not be able to give an exact answer. But I can say about myself that I am not a person who would go to office every day. If I like doing something, it will attract me; so it is always from the heart and never out of compulsion. I also like my personal involvement in everything that we do right from big projects to designing small artefacts. I like things that are not immediately visible but when noticed they evoke some emotion.
Q. What is your design philosophy? What are you most passionate about?
My design philosophy is certainly to have a happy customer and satisfied designer. But passion keeps evolving. One thing that remains constant is that I design passionately but the choice, the bends and the medium keep changing. After giving more than a decade to the business, I now want to give back to design fraternity and it can be called as my latest passion. I want to empower rural artisans and help them blend with the mainstream. But truly, I am still soul-searching for my passion.
Q. Where do you draw inspiration from? Any particular designer whose work you most admire?
I draw inspiration from day-to-day life. It could be some texture, shadow, nature or anything that has me thinking. I like many designers’ work; Geoffrey Bawa, Nari Gandhi, Philippe Starck and many more have done some awesome work that I loved. It is both interesting and intriguing to notice how different people see same things differently.
Q. Any piece of architecture or design that has left a lasting impression on your mind?
During one of my trips to Italy, I got an opportunity to visit remote villages and small towns and was stunned by the architecture there. The houses and roads are built on mountain slopes without tampering the natural slope and surroundings. The memories are still fresh and I would love to go there again and soak in the beauty.
Q. What is the one thing that you avoid in your designs?
A good design is a fine balance of elements. It should be new but should not go overboard. So I try not to incorporate too many elements in one design.
Q. Which is the most challenging project you have worked on?
The most challenging project is yet to come. So far, it has only been interesting work for me.
Q. What is the influence of international architecture/design on Indian architecture/designers?
The common thinking is that the shrinking global barriers have made everything accessible to everyone and western designs attract Indians, however, it is the other way round. The West is loudly announcing to us that we have always been a source of inspiration for their designs. India’s rich and varied culture and infinitesimal features of different culture and tradition is a source of inspiration for the world. So, the insecurity that was creeping into Indian designers has vanished now. Designers are more confident and proud of their country and heritage.
Q. What, in your opinion, is the future of design in India?
As I mentioned in my last answer, Indian designers are more connected to their roots and get inspiration from the culture and create a masterpiece by blending it with modern taste. So the future of design in India is just great. Simply for two reasons – we have enough inspiration in our home country, and secondly, we are not shy in getting inspired from other cultures.
Q. How do you strike work-life balance?
My family is my support system. My partner, my sister and my parents have my back all the time. I cannot imagine how I could have managed if not for them.
Q. What interests you outside work? What are your hobbies?
I love to travel, paint and swim. While my work has given me ample opportunity to travel, I try to take time out for my other two interests. I have resolved to take out more me-time from now onwards, during which I can focus on things that I love to do like reading, studying design and furniture designing.
Q. What kind of décor would you prefer for your home?
Calm, serene and spacious. I am a people person and I would prefer having more friends and family in my house than things.
Q. Do your designs have any message in it?
We do not have a message but we do have a design philosophy. We work for people and the project should suit their requirement. For example, if I am designing a residential project the design should reflect the client’s personality through our vision. So we need to work like psychologists and understand the client first, and then move on to the requirement. It is all about the end-user, if they want a message, we can deliver that too.
Q. Apart from designing, do you take up budget projects or eco-projects?
Yes, we do. As I have mentioned earlier, I would like to do something for the rural artisans, so we are doing a project called ‘Artist Village’ in Karjat in which we are doing design experimentation with mud-houses.
Q. Any piece of advice to the aspiring designers or architects?
Be yourself! You are a visionary and do not get swayed by the by-products of the fields like stardom or money. Put your soul into every design.