She is a force to reckon with in the world of interior design. Having inherited the aesthetics of decor from her mother, Sita Nanda, Shaunali brings her own to it from the exposure she has had in the arena, thanks to her foray at Sotheby’s Institute, London, Christie’s, and later with Doyle Galleries in New York. After her return to India, she launched Villa d’este, an exclusive home store in the heart of Delhi. Recently, the Nandas joined hands with one of the biggest designers in the world—Theodore Alexander—to bring to their patrons the exquisite Althorp Living History Collection, inspired by the Althorp Estate—the ancestral home of the Spencer family for 19 generations. Charles Spencer, the Ninth Earl Spencer, was in Delhi this week to unveil the collection.
Talking about how Indian sensibilities have changed towards design and decor, Shaunali says, “With the opening up of the economy, there was suddenly more prosperity. And with it came the desire for a certain lifestyle. This helped our business as we were able to give that lifestyle. Earlier, people would get one room done, or maybe two. Today they are getting their entire house done.”
The designer believes that the time for minimalism is over and it is the time to go eclectic. She stresses that India is definitely not a place where ‘one size fits all’ and even the world of design is more lifestyle-based where people are still developing their tastes. “The design world here went towards minimalism but is now coming back to the classic—because of the scale of our lifestyle and home. We are back to restrained designs and soothing colours, well-made furniture which has European allusions to it.
And so getting Althorp Collection to India in the midst of all this made all the more sense,” she smiles.
Sharing the history behind the Collection, Lord Spencer spoke about his family’s estate and how it went back over 500 years. Needless to say, the incredible combination of aristocratic legacy, not to mention the loving way in which Lord Spencer set about restoring the place, drew Theodore Alexander to Althorp. The resulting collection draws inspiration from the treasures that the family gathered from 17th to 19th century. But it took a while for the family to actually zero in on a collaborator. “A talk with the director at Theodore Alexander and I was impressed enough to trust him with my family’s name,” says Lord Spencer.
With creative inputs from Lord Spencer himself, Althorp soon became a sought-after home furnishing brand. The collection has some beautifully inspired pieces of furniture, such as The Grand Staircase Fall Front Desk and Bureau. It is a replica of the central hall of Althorp Estate, which as Lord Spencer laughingly said “we bounded down those stairs and my kids do that today”. The one piece he himself is very proud of is the Ad Victoriam Chair, a replica of the original at the estate. The chair was originally crafted from timber taken from HMS Victory, flagship of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In fact, this is one chair that even Shaunali has her heart set on.
The Collection will be available at Hacienda, Sita Nanda’s Delhi-based store.