Initially a pure-play architect, Shalini Misra’s love affair with interior design sparked off while working on a pied-a-terre in London. The UK-based designer attributes her richly textured, timeless aesthetic to her love of nature and art, her work-life experiences in New York and London, and a deep connection with her Indian roots. Here she offers us a little more insight on these influences, along with a tip or two for homeowners looking to keep their spaces unique yet classic.
Have you always wanted to be in the field of design? Tell us a little about any experiences that may have influenced your career choice.
Yes, I have always wanted to be an architect; interiors came into play later. I have really enjoyed this journey. Travel is a huge influence for me. I have always loved art and design and working on interiors is the ideal combination of these two industries as it uses both the practicality that is necessary with design and the aesthetics of art.
Nature is your biggest inspiration. Is there a particularly memorable instance/experience (nature-based) that has changed your perspective on design? Or perhaps led to some innovation within a project?
The ombre effect in nature is an inspiration, so when we create we use layers of textures and never one shade. We always use a variety of fabrics, a combination of tiles and finishes, to create a well thought-out scheme, always with a luxurious feel. For an apartment in New York, on the 38th floor of a skyscraper, the concept was ‘floating within the clouds’. We used a rug with a vague storm cloud pattern on it as the anchor for the whole scheme and a silk curtain fabric with an abstract cloud print. I often look to nature for inspiration from its forms and varieties of shapes and sizes. For palettes, you cannot go wrong referring to the natural world where plants and flowers never have clashing colours.
What does your work on the Tate’s South Asian Acquisition Committee (SAAC) entail?
I joined the SAAC four years ago. I visit exhibitions and art fairs globally; annually, we have a selection committee where we handpick art for the Tate’s collection. Art is a passion and joining this selection committee has given me the opportunity to develop it – it’s also a skill I use daily at work as I curate and collect art for clients.
Nilaya is a wallpaper brand. We’re always curious about quirky use of wall coverings. Are there any that you’d like to share?
We have used a textured wallpaper with resin to cover furniture, which has created a brilliant finish that is not obviously wallpaper at all. We also used one which is a stamped tin effect on the ceiling of a wine cellar.
Is there a destination/region that has particularly inspired you?
Peru, especially Machu Picchu, left a great impression on me. Going to Machu Picchu was a journey of discovery through varying nature and colours; then reaching the top and seeing the breathtaking views of the landscape along with the architecture of an ancient civilisation.
Is there a design (architecture, product, etc) that never ceases to amaze you?
The Walt Disney Music Hall by Frank Gehry is always inspiring. Its form and scale is fascinating from every angle and in any light. I also love Charles Jencks’ home, Portrack House, in Scotland.
Do you have a secret market/store where you shop for home decor?
Alfies on Church Street in London, is a place I return to again and again. It is full of vintage furniture and lighting and the range is constantly changing. I never fail to find something for a project there.
Do you have any advice for first-time homeowners looking to create a timeless space?
Don’t go for an obvious look or theme. Think about what you like, what objects and furniture you like, and see how you can combine them to complement each other and still feel like your own space. You can take elements from trends but don’t overwhelm a space with pieces inspired by a trend; they will outdate a space as trends are seasonal. A combination of vintage and contemporary adds to the glamour.