Designing dreamscapes

Then there are several luxury residential projects in Dubai and Bahrain coming up, she reveals. Clearly, the sky is the limit.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

What strikes you as a showstopper is the seemingly unending bar, lit up with mirrors, gleaming liquor bottles and suspended chandeliers at the buzzing hotspot in suburban Mumbai, Lord of the Drinks. Marked by high ceilings, the rather lofty restobar sets the vibe for a casual, stylish place to unwind in for Mumbai’s party crowd.

This is yet another design feather in Saheba Singh’s cap, as director of decor firm, This is It. 
Lord of the Drinks is actually just one of her many projects spanning the country—Masala Library, Social and Smokehouse Deli in Delhi, Tamasha in Mumbai, Playboy in Pune and Farzi Cafe in Bengaluru—all of which are contemporary, slick spaces that ooze a defining character. In the wake of the resounding applause that her commercial projects have met with, Singh, who set up her firm in 2004, has also brachiated into home spaces.

Saheba Singh
Saheba Singh

“It is the concept of affordable aesthetics that I believe in. My constant challenge has been to make incredible interior design more accessible to everyone.” By her own admission, she has always been a Zaha Hadid fan, “...even though her scale of working was simply larger than life. Closer to what I do, I look up to Eric Kuster, a Europe-based designer known for his stylish standalone interiors,” she says, adding that her wide travels across the globe bring in a sizeable quantum of inspiration.

But what is more challenging—the contouring of commercial areas or the crafting of homes? Both are fulfilling in their own way, she avers. “Crafting commercial spaces teaches you to create designs that are flexible and adaptive. I feel the best part is devising designs and creating plans that are going to resonate with a multitude of people who have different aesthetic sensibilities as they converge in the confines of the same space,” she says. “While designing a residence, the aspects are easier as fewer people will be using the space, and since all of them have something in mind, it is relatively easy to fine-tune and channelise various elements to fulfil those needs through different stylised options.”

Her love for vintage makes her bring in special designs that add touches of nostalgia. What knits it to the present is her love for taupe. “These days I’m completely tripping on taupe as a colour,” laughs Singh. “I think it is an extremely versatile hue, softer on the palette than black, and it vibrates and resonates well with almost every other palette. So if you have a room done in shades of sand and taupe, you can just about give it any colour or design accent your heart desires.” 

But what aspects in interior decor does she telescope as the biggest trends these days? “Shades of teal, indigo, green and blue are big People are increasingly going back to choosing old school flooring ideas. For all the marble available the world over, people are preferring good old terrazzo and cement instead to cover their floors. Then, the use of botanics has gained a completely new dimension with the bringing of outdoors indoors to create seamless spaces, redolent with eco living,” she says.

At the end of the day, it is all about creating a design that is viable and realistic, says the designer, adding that it is better to create a simpler, functional design rather than designing a masterpiece that is impossible to create for many reasons—lack of vendors, lack of budget or resources. “It is the longevity of the design that is the decisive factor, like there is no point in making a design that looks nice for the first few months, and then falls apart. The soundness lies in the intelligent choice of materials and in precise execution.”

Singh’s dream project right now is a lodge that she will be designing in Nairobi, Kenya. Then there are several luxury residential projects in Dubai and Bahrain coming up, she reveals. Clearly, the sky is the limit.

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The New Indian Express