Interior designer Shivani Dogra shares her inspiration journey of discovering her passion for interior designing:
1. How did you navigate towards your current profession? Discuss it in detail.
I grew up in and around old architecture between Periyar in Kerala and Ooty in Tamil Nadu. This was where I spent my growing years and both places have had a role to play in my current choice of career. At the graduate level, I studied Literature and then Communications for my Post Graduation. I took this route on the behest of a well known career counsellor in Bangalore. At that time, I lacked self- awareness and went along with the counsellor's suggestions. Eventually I landed my first job in Mumbai in the world of film production. I enjoyed aspects of the world of film, but couldn't see myself doing this in the long run and moved to stay at a family home in Delhi where I spent a year dabbling in design related interests. At the end of the year, through friends, I found a full time job at NPR- National Public Radio. On starting work again, I moved into a small studio 'apartment' that was 2 streets away from home. It was a run down, one bedroom studio above the garage of an aunt's driveway. And although it was modest, it had potential-- the bedroom overlooked a large Jamun Tree, the small living room looked out into a large Bougainvillea bush, the floors were an old terrazzo and the space lay empty and open to decoration. I began putting things together on a budget, sourcing furniture from the neighbourhood scrap market or at home discount sales. I simultaneously started a blog that featured my adventures decorating the space. Meanwhile on my job at NPR, I was enjoying the opportunity to find stories, travel, talk and listen to people from all across the country. The only downside was that there were just two of us in the Bureau and when my boss was away, I was often alone in office. This was the first time I'd experienced not having people around me. Although alone, the space and time on this job, offered me the rare opportunity to soul search. I began to discover that upto that point I'd merely floated into jobs without experiencing true career satisfaction or joy. I also realised that it was important to my happiness to be deeply involved and gratified by my career. I spent weeks taking various career and personality tests to find out what my true calling was. Eventually I came to realise that I'd always wanted to work on the interiors of older structures. The challenge now was how to set the first step into the industry. I started by sending images of my re-decorated studio to magazines and they got published in Good Homes. The next step was to advertise my services on an online network of young working professionals and expatriates in Delhi. The response was encouraging and a bit of a morale booster, especially when I received my first project on Amrita Shergill Marg- a beautiful part of Delhi. The home was old and replete with understated charm. My journey began from there.
2. Tell us about your style and inspiration.
I'm inspired by the cultural diversity of India. It's wealth of art, craft, colour, it's incredibly rich ecology & natural beauty are daily sources of inspiration, but above all I am inspired by the quality of humility amongst some of the finest artisans of this country. India is constantly intriguing, incredibly diverse and hardly ever boring. My style is derived from days spent outdoors, interactions with artistic and culturally diverse regions of the country and an elegant & simple Indian aesthetic I learned from my mother.
3. Share advice for people aspiring to join your industry.
Be tenacious and patient.
4. How is your industry tackling the current pandemic situation? How do you see the future from here?
Site work has stopped or been delayed as much of our labour has left to go back to their villages. On a personal front, travel has been delayed to outstation sites. HArd and soft furnishing orders for clients have been delayed or cancelled due to a shortage of labour and ease of sourcing materials.
I'm optimistic about the future- things will eventually pick up, albeit in a different way. I think we've discovered that as an office we can work quite successfully out of home. This is an easier way to work, as long commutes to work or traffic didn't favour anybody. I believe we'll be spending substantially more time on screens and consultancies and doing fewer turn-key projects.
5. Tell us about your New Work.
We're doing work with repeat clients in Hong Kong and Delhi and with new clients in Bangalore and possibly Hyderabad & Gorakhpur.
Watch Shivani's Full Video Interview: