'The premise of my design is art...'

'The premise of my design is art...'

'The premise of my design is art...'

From designing lavish, artful spaces in Dubai to collaborating with Gauri Khan, interior designer Prateek Chaudhry is going places. Deepa Ballal engages in a conversation about his sense of style, design rules and more

Unlike many design houses that give clients what they seek, Prateek Chaudhry, the founder of The First Ferry (TFF), a premium international interior design house based in Dubai and London, doesn’t believe in giving the client what he needs. His objective isn’t commercial, he says. “Commercially, we can do a quick and easy job. The client is happy, we are happy, we get the money, the production guys are happy...it is faster to execute and low in risk. But the premise of my design is not just design, it’s art. Times change, interiors have to last. I never worry about what is in fashion or what is trendy. Look at the palaces. I cater to an audience who appreciates art and who can afford art,” he explains.

In a tête-à-tête with Deccan Herald, the designer delves deeper into the workings of design, ‘wow’ spaces and home decor.


Emphasis on comfort...

A common element that needs to be emphasised across all spaces is comfort. While the setting may be different, each space requires a certain degree of comfort for its occupants. Homes require a mood of cosiness and a space that one can truly experience a setting of repose. Keeping this experience in mind, the setting and furniture of the living room and bedroom need to be of top-most quality. The space should also be accommodative of the members of the home and provide a sense of fulfillment to everyone.

Restaurants and cafes provide an experience to its customers not just through its culinary arts, but also through visual appeal. The space usually requires one ‘stand-out element’ amidst its brand-centric design. This element usually culminates into the essence of the space. The brand relativity is of high importance in commercial spaces and offices. While the entire office is designed with the employees in mind, the reception area is treated with a brand-centric approach in order to set a visual continuity with the brand image. This is highly important when the space constantly receives customers and clients at the office. The Redknee office, a darling project of The First Ferry in the office category, displays this effectively. The giant redknee spider is installed by the desk on a giant web, portraying the mastery of the brand in the IT sector.

What’s more important — functionality or creativity?

Both aspects are equally important. The space exists for functionality. We use design and creativity to uplift this functionality with an emphasis on aesthetics precipitating through the element. The objective of our designs is to solicit an emotion. It is viewed as an art piece that demands a reaction. Both are intertwined in a manner that the absence of either would render our philosophy meaningless. We put the client right in the centre and the design revolves around his/her persona, aspirations and story. The beauty of this idea is that it transcends the concept of trends and fads and steps across boundaries into timelessness.

What do you most enjoy designing?

Each project is a unique venture in itself. From experience, we have become very strong in designing high-end homes and spaces in the hospitality sector. This includes a portfolio that envelopes nightclubs, restaurants, cafes and boutique chocolate stores. Likewise, when we design houses, we take it upon ourselves to pay attention to the finer details — fabrics, lighting design, landscaping and ambience. We do the hard-scapes, bollards, fountains as well as stone works to make sure that the theme of the design is carried onto the smallest details of the project. We believe in a holistic design for all our projects.

What are the most common design mistakes?

Not exploring possibilities and not breaking away from the methodical design language adopted by the masses, or in simpler terms what we call trends can never allow a project to amass its true potential. This poses a great threat to the creation of meaningful design. This also needs to be emboldened with the use of appropriate materials.

The one factor that can add a ‘wow’ element to any interior...

While the market is saturated with many who are capable of crafting beautiful interiors, the key reason why the space loses its rhythm and energy is ineffective and poor lighting conditions. This facet of interior design requires as much of a perfectionist’s touch as the design. The design may be beautiful but due to poor lighting arrangements, the moods can fall flat. Lighting is a two-sided coin — an art form on one side and a science on the other.

Experimenting with the amount of lighting helps highlight and direct attention towards certain aspects of design.

When spaces don’t reflect their true objective...

When the objective of the space is not clearly reflected in its design, we can say that the goal is lost. A living room should portray the cues of its prime function. The second issue could be a disjointedness in the design language between 2 rooms. Each space should serve a definitive purpose and seamlessly blend into another space without losing its conjoint design sense.

Tips on saving space...

Organise the space with zones. This helps in allocating space according to the requirements. Spreading elements across an entire floor gives the perception of being over-crowded even in a big room. For this, prioritising your decor elements along with an understanding of the main purpose of the space can help with drafting an effective floor plan.

Another method is to use simple visual tricks. The use of glass furniture and mirrors adds depth to the space in an elusive manner. Shelves, wardrobes and photo frames can be embedded into the wall or via creating the illusion of being installed inside the wall. This can be achieved with the use of faux walls.

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