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‘The pandemic will change the way homes, offices are designed’

At the ongoing India Design ID 2022, a coming together of architecture, design and decor in India, a few key trends are emerging, along with the idea that Indian design can never be a copy of the Western aesthetic    

Designer Iram Sultan moderates a panel discussion on Fluid Design with designers Aamir Sharma, Ekta Parekh, and Ravi Vazirani at the ongoing India Design ID 22 
Designer Iram Sultan moderates a panel discussion on Fluid Design with designers Aamir Sharma, Ekta Parekh, and Ravi Vazirani at the ongoing India Design ID 22  (

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The ongoing 10th-anniversary edition of India Design (or ID 2022 as it is informally referred to) is back in Delhi this month after a two-year hiatus and brings together Indian and international design, décor, and architecture, along with practitioners of these disciplines under one roof. The five-day event currently underway in New Delhi’s NSIC Grounds in Okhla showcases the works of 135+ exhibitors and designers from the world of interior design, architecture, and space aesthetics.

Divided into 4 verticals, this year’s 10th edition of ID witnesses a curation of leading home design and décor brands from across the globe, exhibiting their signature collections across furniture, lighting, interiors, kitchens, accessories, floorings, and home technology under the umbrella of ID Exhibit, a 10,000 sq. mt. space. A design conference – the ID Symposium – is an insightful platform where around 30 speakers from across the world share their thoughts via presentations, panel discussions, and dialogues. Meanwhile, the event recognises India’s 50 best architectural and design projects and the design professionals behind this body of work will be honoured at ID Honours. Finally, there is ID Satellite, a series of design-led events and pop-ups that will evoke life in the design districts of Mumbai and Delhi.

In addition, ID 2022 will also feature the ID Design Factory helmed by architect and designer Rooshad Shroff. This is a new initiative by ID, which seeks to provide an impetus to young décor brands, whereby Shroff will be hand-picking select products from these brands that stand as examples of good design.

Lounge spoke to Kamna Malik, content director at India Design ID, to find out what's different and distinct this year and about Indian design and its place in the world. Edited excerpts from the interview:

What's special at India Design ID this year? Is this the first physical event since the pandemic? Has that had an impact on the quality of exhibits in a positive or negative way?

I think the quality of exhibits has not been affected at all. We are back after two years and of course it's 10 years of ID. I think what's really kind of interesting to see as a trend here is the fact that all our exhibitors have come back and they're more than happy and they are all participating enthusiastically. We've got more sponsors this time probably than ever before. In terms of pandemic, you know, one thing we have to realize is that people have not had the chance to go out, meet each other.

Design is a space that works on collaboration and bouncing off creativities with each other. So I think everybody's looking forward to ID. And this is one time where I think the entire industry is going to come together.

What are Indian Design ID's aims and goals? How has the event evolved over the past decade?

I think the event has only grown every year. I mean, you know, the first year there was only one pavilion and there was ID symposium with just 15 speakers – today in year 10, we have four pavilions and two other smaller pavilions and 35-plus speakers.

So each year the show has grown. I would say the last three years even before the pandemic have been crucial, because what we started doing was exploring new collaborations, exploring new kinds of initiatives that involved a lot of architects and interior designers.

So now what happens at ID each year is apart from the regular formats that we have, we do special collaborations each year, which then become highlights for people to come to the show. 

How do you see the evolution of Indian design in the 21st century? Please name some examples of styles, specific aesthetic, and designers who you think represent this evolution.

I think the pandemic has changed the way one looks at design, especially home design or even office interiors or commercial design for that matter. That is a huge need for open spaces. That is a huge need for ventilation. And especially, you know, in larger Metro cities like Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, where there has been a culture of having tight spaces and there's been a whole vertical expansion over the years -- I think what is going to change and which I think has started happening is people are now looking to move out of the city. They're looking for larger homes, they're okay with the commute, but they still want spaces that are larger, that have that indoor-outdoor connection where you can breathe in nature.

So I think nature is going to play a very important role, also simplicity in terms of material palette and just hassle-free spaces are going to be a trend. Sustainability also is going to play a very important role. I think people are a lot more mindful. They're conscious… conscious consumption is a huge deal at this point of time, whether it's in fashion or in home design. People want to know what they are putting in their homes. People want to know what they're eating. So everything is a lot more detailed in that sense. 

In terms of designers that are doing great work, I think there are so many of them. One good thing that the pandemic has allowed is this whole social media movement where you've seen the rise of young designers, who are doing some really cool, cutting-edge work. So I think depending on the school of thought that you are looking at, there are people who are doing some fabulous work, but I think for me, probably at the cost of sounding a little biased, I really love what Rooshad Shroff does, I really love the work of Sandeep and Tanya Khosla, I'm also a huge fan of Iram Sultan and Studio Lotus's work. For different thingsyou turn to different people, for different sensibilities, so it would not be right for me to categorize it in one bucket. But yeah, these are some of the talents that I've always admired. 

How can Indian design move to a more contemporary and modern sensibility in keeping with global design and yet stay rooted in its origins? Can you name some exhibitors and speakers at this event who successfully do so? 

I've always said India is a very, very interesting market when it comes to design. You cannot compare it to the West… this goes back to the kind of culture and the society that we belong to. The culture of India changes literally with every state. And even in every state, you've got these subcultures that influence the way you live, the way you eat. So, you know, it's not like a one-size-fits-all like in the West where you have these swanky, modern, contemporary apartments with open kitchens that work for all. Here, just to give a small example, cooking is done very differently, right? The kind of cooking that is done in north India versus the kind of cooking that is done in south India – but at the same time, when people are making homes here, it's also very aspirational. It's something that they probably do once in a lifetime and most people put all their hard work and money into just making that dream house. So all these factors come together in design. I wouldn't say there is a modern contemporary shift. What I would say is with the global exposure and with social media, making the world a smaller place, what is going to happen is you will see a lot more relevant homes. You may see a lot more functional homes, you may see a lot more people who are inspired by modern sensibilities, but you'll never see a cut-copy-paste happening because it just doesn't work in India. 

Like say for example, what a north-Indian needs from their home – because north-Indian culture is usually about joint families, larger families – whereas a couple in Bangalore with just a 1 BHK or a 2 BHK – the needs are very, very different in that sense. 

So I would say, we will see modern sensibilities, you will see clutter-free sensibilities, but at the same time, you do have a huge market where people like OTT (over-the-top) designs and the opulent designs. I think India has a market for everybody. And I think that's what our exhibitors also kind of showcase. So when you come to ID, you will find exhibitors who are doing your opulent OTT sort of furniture and accessories and lighting, but then you also have the Scandinavian sort of brands and modern brands that are meant for a slightly younger sensibility. 

So if you are a lover of classical design, you will find something. If you're a love of a Scandinavian design, you'll find something. Even in terms of speakers.. I mean, again, something interesting that we've done this year is (while) usually it's always architects and designers, this year, we've got fashion designers, we've got food entrepreneurs, we've got sneaker heads. Creativity can no longer be contained in one bucket, it's all of us bouncing off each other, and that's exactly what design is all about. 

What do you think about the democratisation of home decor offered by low-cost brands such as IKEA and others who offer good options to the average customer? How does luxury home decor stand in this spectrum, and stand out?

We will have to look back on this because, if you see, even 10 years ago when we started ID design was a very different market. I mean, if you look at when our parents did homes, they all did the homes by themselves, right? Like there was never a concept of an interior designer or an architect. And obviously, society has changed, the market has changed. And like I said, there is a market for everything, right? So there are people who want aspirational homes, but everybody cannot afford a 1 crore-plus home, or the 50 crore home, right? But that doesn't mean they're not entitled to a well-designed good home. I always feel it should be quality that is of utmost importance as opposed to the brand name. So tomorrow if an IKEA is offering great products then why not? If there is a gap in the market and there is quality, why not?

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