It’s not often that you come across someone who is both an architect and interior designer. I’ve really enjoyed this interview as it’s interesting to hear how someone speaks about design when they are involved in both disciplines. Shalini Misra is also a very successful designer and you will see from the sheer volume of projects that she is involved in is proof of her incredible skill.
What is your design signature/style?
I consider my style to be relaxed and attentive, practical yet always retaining a feeling of luxury elegantly combined with an element of surprise. I like to create interiors to stimulate the senses through the use of seductive lighting to create intimate spaces to a variety of textures with tactile appeal; crisp cottons, soft laundered linens, silk, faux furs, cashmere and leathers…
My philosophy is about interiors that are timeless and combine vintage elements with contemporary pieces, full of texture and interest. I like to play with volumes in spaces, using sliding doors to screen off areas when privacy is required and left open to allow a flow of space when entertaining.
I believe in eco-friendly design, whenever possible, and often re-use or update existing pieces; I like to source one-off vintage items and recycle pieces of furniture. I love to create drama, energy and a freedom that can flow seamlessly throughout a space.
My guiding principle is to introduce an element of surprise and to not make any of my interior designs feel predictable. I always individually design for each project, rather than stamping a kind of brand onto each scheme. I respect the architecture of the buildings that our projects are in and use their features to the optimum.
Did your training as an architect help or hinder you when doing interior design and could you tell us how being an architect has helped you to be a better designer?
My training as an architect has given me a solid grounding in architecture as a whole, whether it’s looking at the history and style of a building, or knowing the practical side of how it was or will be built. My architectural experience and training has also contributed enormously to the space planning side of working in interiors. Playing with volumes, which I mentioned before, is one of my favourite aspects and this certainly draws from my educational background.
It has not hindered me at all as I have always been interested in arts and the applied arts including furniture design, wallpapers and textiles. Working in interiors combines two of my greatest interests and passions.
What type of people do you love to work with as clients?
I love clients who take an interest in design and are willing to come out of their comfort zone and try something new, whether it is with the colour scheme or how their space will be altered. A lot of my clients come from interesting backgrounds and I love learning from others. One is an art collector and she has introduced me to many artists and galleries that I now use when I am proposing art for projects.
Can you tell us about a particularly exciting/challenging project?
We have a development project at the moment in the heart of Mayfair. It is a beautiful apartment on South Audley Street which we are developing sympathetically to its original architecture, by restoring original features such as cornicing, whilst giving it a contemporary feel adapted well to today’s aesthetics but with our keen eye for detail.
Both elements need to combine seamlessly and we wanted to avoid the typical development route where properties are modernised in a stereotypical way with neutral marble scheme bathrooms and a greige palette. It is a challenge as we still need to make it universally appealing since it is a development project but we do want to give it a unique look.
Does your home reflect your professional style?
My home reflects the lifestyle elements that I introduce to every project. To elaborate, this is created by stimulating the senses through the use of layered natural and artificial lighting, adding colour and varying tones, comfortable yet sleek furniture, and lighting candles for scent throughout the house.
My home is a flexible space with sliding screens and every area can be transformed from formal to intimate at ease. I incorporate nature into all my projects and my home shows this strong element of my designs well.
We extended the house and have a long wall of windows partitioning the garden from the lower ground floor giving a seamless feel with nature. Upstairs on the upper ground floor we have a terrace that is almost overflowing with vegetation, as there are many pots with plants and foliage on the terrace and the trees from the garden below touch the side of the terrace.
I like to have a connection to nature on as many levels of a house as possible. Art plays a big role in creating my home and each room has a carefully curated selection that tells a story beyond the architecture and interior of my home.
What’s next for your business/brand?
Expansion – We are growing at an amazing rate with wonderful creative projects worldwide including a farmhouse in Delhi, a luxury home in Mumbai, a 26,000 sq ft villa in Dubai, several houses in London, and apartments in New York.
We are also working on an exciting development project, a grand Victorian lateral apartment in the heart of Mayfair, and a grade 2 listed apartment in Belgravia.
We are collaborating with a top gallerist in Milan and opening a pop-up space in the near future in London featuring chandeliers, furniture and rugs. We are working on some beautiful ceramic pots to be launched very soon in London and Delhi.
I would also like to continue to expand my company by working on projects in more areas of the world, opening an office in India and designing boutique hotels and flagship designer stores.
Which new/up and coming designers do you currently have your eye on?
I love Michael Anastassiades’ lighting and objects. Buster and Punch has a strong design identity and all their products are beautifully crafted. Lindsey Adelman and Apparatus create beautiful lights as well. There is an enormous amount of talented designers out there and we are really spoilt for choice when it comes to proposing options to clients.
If someone reading this was about to begin their own home redesign project, what would be your best advice to them?
I would suggest to not go for an obvious look or theme. Think about what you like, what objects and furniture you like and see how you can combine them to complement each other and still have it feel like your own space. You can take elements from trends, but don’t overwhelm a space with pieces inspired by a trend as they will outdate since it is a trend after all –they remain seasonal. A combination of Vintage and contemporary adds the glamour.
It is also essential to have several sources of light from natural to artificial. To create layers of light that can be turned on separately and coordinate together I mix ceiling lighting (downlights and pendants) with wall lighting and loose lighting such as floor and table lamps. If there is art, there should also be directional lighting to show it off, and most importantly be determined and consistent. If you have a gut feeling go with it.
You can contact Shalini through her website, Shalini Misra Interior and Architectural Design.
Image Credit – Shalini Misra