Sarah heads the Interior Design arm of the 106 year old company, Essajees, which spans over four generations. Since its inception, Essajees Atelier has completed numerous residential and commercial projects. In an exclusive interview, our editors talked to Sarah about her multifaceted work, inspiration and what the future holds for modern day Interior Design.
How did you approach the project Prabhadevi Apartment?
This was a tiny 750 sqft bedroom, hall kitchen apartment that took a lot of space planning and thought to complete it. We approached it as a lesson in space planning and maximizing what can be done in a small area- we tried every trick in the book to make the spaces bigger and more functional while cramming in storage at every junction.
Are there any particular influences that you draw your inspiration from?
The client loved the color blue, so we tried to integrate that into the project as best we could.
Which project from your practice stands out according to you and why?
I think each project has its special place for me, but my restaurant projects 266 The Wine Room and Happy Thai are both projects I am really proud of.
What do you think the future holds for modern day interior design ?
The future is so bright especially with so many apartments being built in India, and with the awareness about interior design spreading through sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz even people in small towns have good ideas for how to make their homes more functional and more beautiful.
You’ve done quite a few residential projects. What draws you to these?
I love a good before and after, and with homes there is a lot of potential for those!
What kind of projects would like doing more of?
I am moving towards doing a lot of holiday homes and all kinds of commercial projects. We just handed over our second restaurant project, we are currently working on a 5400 sqft gym and a 4 floor 7000 sqft retail showroom for a leading menswear brand. We are also doing some residential work, but mixing it all up so it remains interesting for us.
Why is there such a strong emphasis for details in your projects?
God is in the details, and we really love making things as intricate as possible. Even small hidden details that increase functionality is what sets us apart and we take a lot of pride in that detail.
What would your one advice be for young designers, especially women?
I think the key is to know your strengths and also be sure about what kind of projects you agree to doing. Initially when I was starting out I agreed to do any project that came my way, but now I am careful to see if my vision and the clients vision is aligned otherwise I know that the project will not turn out the way I have envisioned.
What are some of the opportunities and challenges your office faces now?
Its really tough running your own organization and I am realizing this more and more. Initially this was just me, along, doing everything from design work to views to site visits. Now as the team has grown there is a lot more to take care of in terms of accounts, HR and taxation which is what I never expected my days to revolve around! I also do think that growing comes with its own set of challenges and its important to grow in a sustainable manner which is what we are trying to do now- as I don’t want to lose the essence of being a boutique firm where each client gets a lot of personal attention
A: Sarah Sham