By and large, interior designing or architecture has remained a tough profession for women to make a mark. The designers have to deal with everything from vendors to workers, clients to colleagues. Despite the odds, the young female interior designers from Kashmir have broken the glass ceiling by making inroads in the creative world of interior designing.
Mehak Suhail from Srinagar has done her bachelor’s in architecture and established her firm in Srinagar which was the first of its kind in 2019.
She started her career with design project for a bakery outlet for a home baker “Sweetemptations by Sana” and ever since then, there has been no looking back for Mehak.
Mehak has always been a keen observant of the built environment around her and sensitive to things that look distracting.
She believes nothing comes overnight and everybody has to pay an equal toll to gain success in what they do.
“The most important virtue that I swear by since childhood is hard work. A lot of people tell me that my work life looks fancy but I have had sleepless nights for my work. I have missed out on fun outings and also family functions,” said Mehak.
Mehak does not believe in following a single design mantra or style.
“I would like to shape the space in a way that has character and that is possible by taking the client’s inputs down and blending them with my own ideas,” said Mehak.
For Mehak, both architecture and interior designing are fine arts of creating, breaking visual connections apart from making the spaces functional and aesthetically pleasant.
She said, “Understanding the site context is also very important.”
Mehak believes every profession has its own struggles so one should wisely choose what they are signing up for.
“Whenever I am faced with a situation that makes me feel like quitting, which happens more often than not, I remind myself that ‘the only way ahead is THROUGH’.”
She said, “This profession is not limited to curating designs but also involves public dealing .Some people have been kind, patient and respectful of my time and ideas while others might have been able to give me a tough time temporarily but they have taught me a great deal about life and have made me more placid.”
“Upholding my integrity, never compromising on quality, stepping back from projects where my time/work is not given its due respect are the virtues that I live by and shall continue to do so till I plan to work.”
Another interior designer, Afsa Malik (25) from Lal bazar believes in activation of space, which includes making the space lively through colors and lights, openness, facilitating the unexpected, making the place more interactive, welcoming which also brings the feeling of comfort.
Afsa has pursued civil engineering and a 2 year diploma course in interior designing and works as a freelancer by the name “Your House Designer, Interior By Afsa.”
“I started my career in interior designing last year in Bangalore and then started the same in Kashmir just 2 months back,” said Afsa.
She said, “I have seen people investing huge chunks on their houses yet not getting their money’s worth. Whenever I see badly made interiors, it triggers my designer instincts.”
Afsa always wanted to balance the space where the eyes could rest. Since her childhood, she always wanted to create spaces with a theme, emphasis, proportions, rhythm and harmony.
“I used to analyze the style themes wherever I go, it always fascinated me and hence I decided to become a designer,” said Afsa.
Afsa is more of a shabby chic lover.
“I love pastels and floral but I am open to all design styles which includes more of minimalist, Art Deco, modern, boho, luxurious, Victorian or country style.”
Her style includes 60% theme, 30% contrast and 10% Accent.
Interior by Afsa offers to give interior design consultation to the client. They provide a set of drawings and explain them to the concerned person like layout, detailed elevations, lighting and false ceiling drawings, 3d views as required.
They also coordinate among the contractors and vendors as and when required and make sure they are there for the client until the design is completely executed.
Interior by Afsa are a team of two for the designing and also have tie ups with a few contractors in case the execution is required.
Afsa said, “After taking up a project, we take a proper client brief in order to know the requirements and the design style of the client.”
“In every step we prefer to include the clients and make sure we design the exact same space our client is looking for. Not only this, we give suggestions to them and brief them in all phases.”
Kashmir has been a whole different experience for Afsa, since she started working, it has been a struggle for her.
In Kashmir, where people have so many questions for why to pay for interiors, it’s hard to make them understand the job of an Interior Designer.
“In the beginning people asked me to design for free because I was a newbie here but I never agreed to that. In my opinion, it's blatant exploitation if you ask a fresher to work for free,” said Afsa.
She said, “I have worked in Bangalore where I have had varieties to play with but here in Kashmir I’m confined to materials, which directly affects the design,” said Afsa.
Afsa started from a small project in Kashmir and eventually got more.
“I’m glad people are developing their taste for interiors in Kashmir.”
While designing a space, Afsa keeps in mind the scale and proportions, the white space i.e., breathing space, utilitarian functions, cultural style, emotional attribute and the Belief process.
“It takes about a week at-least to decide and finalize the design. Yet the execution always depends on various factors.”
This profession is not limited to curating designs but also involves public dealing .Some people have been kind, patient and respectful of my time and ideas while others might have been able to give me a tough time temporarily but they have taught me a great deal about life and have made me more placid.
In every step we prefer to include the clients and make sure we design the exact same space our client is looking for. Not only this, we give suggestions to them and brief them in all phases.
The most important virtue that I swear by since childhood is hard work. A lot of people tell me that my work life looks fancy but I have had sleepless nights for my work. I have missed out on fun outings and also family functions