She’s Bollywood’s favourite go-to interior designer—apart from the much-talked-about home of Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan, she’s also helmed projects for Katrina Kaif, Soha Ali Khan, Kartik Aaryan and Imtiaz Ali, to name a few. Darshini Shah is the force behind some of the most luxurious homes in India, but she still strongly believes in upcycling and recycling—not only because it’s sustainable but also because it lends a unique signature to the homes she creates.
A strong proponent of vocal for local, Shah is known to often source pieces from villages and small towns. Her repertoire includes hotels, cafes, offices and furniture and furnishing design. We recently caught up with the multi-faceted designer and spoke about everything from the latest trends to what it’s like to work with Bollywood’s top brass.
1. What are the top design trends that we can look forward to in 2022?
Design trends are dynamic. Last year, we saw people adding nature into design and bringing the outdoors, indoors. People are investing more in livable luxury too, choosing comfort over aesthetics. Statement ceilings have been a favourite across the board. Given the current situation, sustainable decor is being preferred by a lot of clients. Another trend I have noticed is the contemporary country aesthetic to create a cosy vibe at home. Accent chairs are also very in.
2. What are your top décor tips to refresh one's home, where one doesn’t require major changes?
Go botanical! Use plants with different textures, hues and sizes, varieties and lengths. Candles are another element that never go out of style. Considering the past two years, sustainability is now very important. My suggestion would be to recycle, upcycle and repurpose your décor pieces. For instance, use old glasses as candle holders, disposable teacups as candle stands and recycled fabrics for packaging. With the pandemic, the value of going traditional has also increased. So, nostalgic décor can be your next prime focus.
3. How would you suggest giving your home a festive vibe while you’re entertaining? What are your tips for lighting up one’s home?
Yellow lights work better to make your house look warmer. Having said that, don’t be afraid to experiment if it goes with your style. Using a lot of candles gives a more intimate feel to your home. To create warmth, add a lot of table lamps and floor lamps with lampshades and create new looks with them. You can also layer your lighting and highlight your favourite spots at home by using lights to draw more attention to them.
4. What's your advice to create a celeb-like home?
Use your space wisely and stay true to your personality. Your house should reflect your identity. Above everything else, remember not to go overboard. Celebrities follow the same principle. They like to focus on pieces that talk about their sensibilities. Another favourite across the board are unique walls and ceilings.
5. How has design evolved over the last two years and through the pandemic?
One of the biggest results of the pandemic is that people are choosing comfort over aesthetics now. In case another lockdown-like situation hits, people want to be prepared. They want to keep their home more functional than ever before. Cosy corners and reading nooks have also become very popular to de-stress. People are also consciously creating work-from-home spaces in their homes.
6. You did Kareena Kapoor Khan's home through the deadly second wave. How was it working through that phase?
It was a challenging time for all of us. Considering Kareena's pregnancy, we needed to be extra cautious. Having said that, working with them is a breeze and is always a collaborative process. We have worked together on several projects before, so we have a great creative synergy. I understand their vision and they trust me with my ideas. Even though we worked with a limited team, we managed everything perfectly and on time—it was literally a fun pandemic project for us!
7. Post pandemic, how have the requirements for homes changed? Are WFH spaces a requirement? Can you share suggestions for creating the same?
Given that remote working is now a reality, people need more multi-functional spaces in their homes. They want to keep their workspaces away from where they rest and relax. The WFH space needs to be functional and comfortable, given the long screen hours. For the same reason, it is important to ensure proper lighting as well. In case of smaller apartments, it is important to keep the furniture light and easy to move around. I would also suggest investing in a very comfortable ergonomic chair.
8. We've often been privy to Soha Ali Khan's home on Instagram. She has something that resembles a nursery cum gym space. How have you gone about creating multi-functional spaces like these?
The primary focus is to provide functional elements like storage and planned spaces. Keeping that in mind as your foundation, you deep dive into the required aesthetic. Hidden storage areas, folding or a nest of tables and low seating work very well in such spaces. You can also keep it lively by adding a pop of colour and elements that appeal to all age groups.
9. On a parting note, are there any other design tips you'd like to leave our readers with?
Always try to reuse, recycle and refurbish. Every piece of furniture or décor item has a story to tell. So, try to listen to it. While styling your house, be true to your personality and choose designs that resonate with it. Nothing can add a better touch than your own character.