To design or decorate

To design or decorate

To design or decorate

Doing up the home is not everyone’s cup of tea. Most often home owners confuse interior designing with decor. Piriti Kalra tries to bring clarity on the issue.

Is the balcony wall a structural component or is it non-load bearing? Could we break it down, make the living room larger and reconfigure the furniture layout within?

I suppose this will help bring in more natural light to the space, enhancing the overall ambience significantly... Here we have a sample of the issues raised in interior design. “What colour palette for the curtains would best complement the furniture upholstery? Would steel frames for the dining area furniture go well with the teak wood crockery cabinet?” Here we take a glimpse of the thoughts entailed in interior decoration. Often mentioned interchangeably, interior design and interior decoration are two distinctly different lines. The former takes shape in understanding human behaviour to create efficiently functioning spaces within a building.

The latter involves adorning the inside spaces with fashionable or beautiful things purely for the purpose of achieving a required aesthetic. Today, we will take a holistic look at the development of interior design over the years.

The earliest evidence of interior design dates back to prehistoric times, when dwellings were decorated with basic drawings on the walls, leading us to believe that design of interiors is a primal instinct. We move on to the era of the Egyptians during which religion was a major impetus to the styles employed. Ornate magnificent buildings for the royal families were built to please the gods and were symbolic of wealth.

The Greeks and Romans brought about a change in this movement, with their orderly pillared constructions. Design began to give way to personal tastes with their beautiful vases and paintings. Although beauty and function were given equal importance in the Gothic and Renaissance periods, the focus continued to centre around religion with their meticulously detailed carvings and tapestries. Post the Baroque era, the Industrial Revolution opened up interior design to the common man as fashion magazines hit the shelves and travel became more accessible. Modern design, hence, became an eclectic mix of styles from around the globe.

Although, in essence, it is an integral part of the larger discipline that is architecture, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that interior design began to be recognised in India as a discipline separate from architecture. From the times of the Rajahs till today, Indian arts and crafts have embellished lavish homes the world over. Traditionally, only the affluent could enjoy the luxury of a designed interior space owing to the sheer cost of hiring craftsmen and investing in expensive materials. The lower income groups worked wonders with what nature provided, leaving us a rich architectural legacy of the mud houses in Rajasthan, sloping roofs in Konkan or the Tanku houses with wind catchers in Khambat.

The economic reforms brought about post Independence exposed India to the open market, broadening its horizons in the design field. In the olden days, interior design in homes was purely utilitarian. The average house was generally characterised by stone or mosaic flooring, painted walls and colonial furniture handed down over generations. The art that adorned the walls was produced by the local craftsmen.

Over the years, architects undertook the responsibility of looking at interior spaces more critically, giving utmost importance to detailed design of the layout of interior spaces, the quality of light, the furniture styles and the artwork, right from conception to execution. From being an extravagance only the rich could indulge in, interior design over the last decades (with the growth of urban India) has slowly gained the reputation of being an essential feature within the comfortable grasp of the middle class as well.

Looking at emerging trends, it is difficult to narrow down to a specific style which is in vogue today. After a period of stark minimalism with its clean lines, muted tones and unadorned interiors, which still boasts of a large fan-following, we presently see a renewed interest in vintage styles overlaid with modern undertones. Classical styles have made a comeback. Emphasis on detailing is gaining momentum. Screened partitions with inlay work or cutwork jali seem to be popular. Bold patterns with baroque hints have become “fashionable,” and can be seen in products right from chandeliers and mirrors to wallpapers and upholstery. Darker hues, be it in colour tones or wood selection, lend warmth to spaces. Colours like khaki, indigo, grey and beige juxtaposed with natural materials like sandblasted stone are liked by many today. It is interesting to note that well-designed kitchens and bathrooms have become a modern day symbol of luxury.

Desire for individuality

With this in mind, the latest inclination seems to be less towards a specific style and more towards the desire for individuality. A homeowner, today, consciously spends more time, money and energy to create an environment which reflects his or her personality. Functional comfort and the right aesthetic follow closely behind as broader trends of our century, measured against individual preferences. The key is to be willing to take risks and not necessarily play it safe, apart from being thoroughly aware of the possibilities available.

Invest in a style and go all-out, bearing in mind to exercise some restraint. You want your house tastefully done, not overly themed. It is, at the end of the day, your home to live in and carry out your daily functions in, and should, accordingly, pay as much attention to use as it does to appearance.

It is important to pay attention to layouts, lighting and behavioural patterns as much as it is to your mood board. With the help of the right professional, you can transform your mundane environment into a creative space for living. Always remember, design intends to have a meaning far deeper than the superfluous trends that come and go with our changing seasons.

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