My Life in Design: Shabnam Gupta

Gupta does not adhere to a definite style but uses her own design sensibilities to further her client’s vision. She believes in experimenting with different materials, design styles and concepts to find just the right balance in each project. Her work, though, is characterised by vibrant colours, patterns, and her clear preference for all things Indian.


How did you begin as a designer?

I never planned to be part of the design fraternity. I knew I had different tastes in most aspects and I loved to travel and be surrounded by beautiful things. So it was a natural progression. I first dabbled in my dad’s television marketing company for a couple of years, but then discovered that design was my true calling.


What is a well-designed home?

A home is a reflection of a person’s spirit combined with the zest and energy imparted by the ambience. The idea is to transform the space from bricks and mortar to a home that is true to the vibe of the owners. It needs to be a place where they can just be themselves and unwind.

A home is well-designed when it truly functions to the utmost requirements of its inhabitants. It is never just about good aesthetics, it’s about all its aspects working seamlessly, yet continuing to look great while they are being used.
It’s therefore very important to be able to analyse what the space naturally demands in terms of design. In the end, every project is a result of the client’s love for design, combined with their needs and the designer’s expertise.


What trends do you foresee in 2017?

Greenery was named the 2017 Pantone Colour of the Year. It is meant to represent refreshment and revitalisation – something I believe we all could use a bit of in this complex social and political environment. I hope this cheery shade of green will dominate not just home decor, but also fashion and commercial design. Another trend that has been gaining momentum these last few years is upcycling/recycling. People are looking for more sustainable furniture and interior design ideas. They want to get their hands dirty – reusing, repurposing and upcycling will remain key elements this year. Since we live in a world immersed in technology and disposable items, people are now looking for a balance – to be more ‘green’.


What are the design mistakes to avoid?

Overdoing things. Good design is about finding the right balance between all the elements. It should be about new ideas and experimentation, but one should not go overboard. I try not to incorporate too many elements in one design. The common thread of one language needs to hold the project together, whether in terms of fewer materials or the right amount of restraint.


International brands or Indian?


Both, for their own strengths. For technical lighting, brands like Erco, Prolicht, Flos are far more evolved. But in arts and crafts or heritage, handmade pieces, you can’t touch Indian products.


What is the best thing about Indian homes?

We have an abundance of traditional building methods and craftsmanship, like the incorporation of natural ventilation into our structures. I would have to say the best thing is this ability to use local techniques along with modern design concepts that translate into a unique home that’s truly “Indian”.


What’s the project you are most proud of?

Every one of my design projects has its own unique journey and each is special to me. Hence, choosing any one would be near impossible. However, from my latest works, I am happiest with the way The Bar Stock Exchange at Lower Parel Mumbai has turned out.

When I started, it was all about removing the layers of the existing space and understanding the original structure’s demands. The conceptualisation and construction process pushed me to explore a newer facet of design. Whether it was creating a factory-like glass greenhouse or stacked tunnel seating, it was the fresh perspective that I enjoyed most.
I am also extremely excited with the way Rani Mukherjee’s home is shaping up. It is by far my most intense and detailed project.

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