When and why did you decide to take up interior design as a profession?
As a student of art history, I was always interested in interiors. However, I started formalizing my profession as an interior designer back in 2005 while I was still living in London. I started out as an apprentice at an interior design firm and later got confirmed as a designer there. When we moved back to Lahore in 2011, I felt there was a gap in the market for the young, eclectic interiors aesthetic. That is how I started Home Couture, an interior design studio out of which I design furniture collections, homes, and other interior spaces.
What has inspired your style?
My style has mainly been inspired by my academic background in art and European history. To study these forms, I attended school in Germany as I felt a strong impulsion to not only read through books but to be in the atmosphere that influences me most. Art in all its manifestations interests me a great deal. Hence, I find inspiration through not just one but various sources – the gothic architecture of cathedrals, the geometrical symmetry in Islamic architectural patterns; domes, arches, spires, minarets, I find them all riveting and try to incorporate these aesthetics when I design furniture or spaces. Other influences range from moods, places and personalities to nature, spirituality and weather – all these at individual levels have a deep design impact on me.
Has your style evolved over time?
It most definitely has and continues to evolve all the time! However, there is no chronological sequence to it as it evolves from project to project, one design aesthetic to the next, my mood, the client’s mood, the place, the atmosphere, colours. As an artist and a designer, it is absolutely essential for one to keep growing, keep changing, and keep evolving.
What is your favourite object in your home?
My favourite objects in my home are these huge hand painted urns, plates and bowls.
When and where did you acquire them from?
Well, I got these way back in 2008 during a trip to Tuscany.
How have you managed to incorporate these plates and urns in your living space?
In 2012, we got this home with a little courtyard that houses the pieces now. See how fabulous they look here!
Given the scale of these objects and the logistics of shipping them back home, it must have been quite a monumental decision to purchase them. Tell us how and where it happened.
During one of our trips along the Siena countryside, we parked our vans outside San Gimignano, a famous walled medieval hill town with winding, cobbled streets and high houses that lead into a central town courtyard. As my mother-in-law and I walked along these quaint narrow streets on our way to lunch with the rest of the party, we spotted little boutique stores selling these amazing hand painted pieces of pottery. We both paused to look and we loved what we saw. So taken in we were with their craftsmanship that we instantly started choosing our pieces. As spontaneous shoppers we did not even stop to consider the logistics that would come into play once we were to ship them back home hundreds of miles away.
Hand painted objects are such a thing of beauty involving great personal skill. These pieces are stunning! What have they come to signify to you?
Interesting thing is, at that time I bought these, we were living in a tiny flat in London and I had no clue what I was going to do with them. We barely had space to put them up. But so charmed I was I knew I had to buy them then and there even if it meant shipping them off to Pakistan for the time, because who knew when I would be back in San Gimignano again. The artisan who was selling them to us also became very involved and enthusiastic. Detailing the imagery painted over them, he invited us into his home for a cup of coffee and gave us a tour of his place; showing us his work studio and sharing with us things that inspired him. “Today I feel that by getting these pieces of pottery, that experience, this little piece of that memorable holiday, that city, that day came home with us.”
Tuscany sounds fascinating. Tell us more about this trip.
We had gone to Italy that summer for my husband’s grandmother’s 80th birthday. Together there were 30 of us and the family had rented out a gorgeous villa along the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. Every day, we would pile up in buses and make little trips around the scenic landscape. Needless to say, we had a great time and a most relaxing holiday! The atmosphere of Tuscany is very laid back. There is not much to do except eat good food, look at these beautiful places and just soak it all in. We went at the start of the Italian summer, during May, when the weather was not too hot, not too cold – but perfect! The sun would always be shining. We spent half our days driving around the gorgeous countryside and the rest of them just lying by our pool in the villa, enjoying the lovely weather and being together with family.
Seems like the perfect holiday! How do you look back on this time?
Looking back at our great Tuscan escape, I remember this time with much fondness. Italy and its people are most endearing. In fact, the one thing that struck me instantly when we were there was how similar Italians were to Pakistanis. Not only were they easygoing and casual like us, they were also quite whimsical on the road: weaving their way in and out of narrow streets, honking, not caring about traffic lights not traffic laws and this kind of made the holiday more fun because instantly we felt right at home – this big happy Pakistani family in the Italian countryside and it felt exactly like home.