Sakshi is a Senior FF&E interior designer at HBA with an impeccably chic eye and materiality being at the heart of her design style. Her knowledge in the world of design is simply unparalleled. With two decades of experience in Dubai's interior design industry, she has been involved in the design of numerous luxury hotels with operators, such as Radisson, Marriott, Hilton & Rotana, as well as supervised the execution of Address Boulevard, Address Fountain Views, and other 5-star hospitality projects in Dubai. Today she continues to nurture her passion and spoke to STUDIOVN about the possible improvements in the commercial interior design industry.
In the cycle of designing, sourcing, and building, what are the most wasteful or unnecessary aspects of the interior design/design industry?
A huge time-consuming exercise in this part of the world is cost-cutting which people call “value engineering” which has nothing to do with design whatsoever. Designing to budget is value engineering which should be done at the start and not at the end of a project. Designing to budget is not about losing creativity but instead makes us push the envelope.
Another closely observed issue is time management- we as consultants, waste so much time traveling to and attending meetings, many of which are futile. As an industry, we have far too many meetings, and they're a massive drain on productivity.
How can designers contribute to creating a more sustainable and efficient design cycle?
Although I feel that it has taken a long time for sustainability to be taken seriously here since it was first mooted, things are certainly moving in the right direction. The utilization of a country’s natural resources, via climate-conscious and sustainable means, is vital in the design and creation
Focusing on FF&E, and trying to work with local materials and local talent is a step towards more sustainable design. Recently, vernacular architecture has gained popularity among those who favour sustainable buildings due to the inherently environmental-friendly nature of such structures. With the sustainability debate gaining momentum, we have worked in the luxury industry for a long time, not only with the business and strategic decision-makers, but also with several artisans, engineers, architects, and designers. Where a sensible global-local approach embraces local materials, craftsmanship, and context within the project, designers should continue to encourage local sourcing wherever possible. Surely in time, this will become the normal practice, as the world reflects upon the importance of community networks and local infrastructure in light of the current global situation.
What design elements make or break the interior design of a space for you? How do you define good design?
In any design, it is important to tap into the emotional element of the space. It’s how you touch people; it’s how you engage people. it’s important not to impose a style on clients. There is no one way of designing meaningful spaces, there can be more than one way of doing so. Having the privilege of working with some amazing colleagues and projects, a good design is a product of a tremendous pool of talent with a single common goal.
My personal style does not follow trends/fads in design as these are short-lived, but instead, I enjoy the attention paid to the details in the overall canvas of understated elegance. As they rightly say the devil lies in the details, small details appeal to me as much as the entire experience. I also like to mix period furniture and vary colour palettes from very calm and neutral to rich and punchy, depending on the space and brief, It’s important to ‘have an understanding of the ultimate balance between luxury and artisan techniques. Soulful, well-made pieces that tell a story, combined with unusual colours and compelling textiles never fail to generate interiors rich in atmosphere. Texture and colour combined with art, antiques, and bespoke pieces aim to capture the spirit of the client and the essence of a space.
Which of the latest design techniques/materials or software would you wish to see applied/used more often?
3D rendering is fundamental but working on embedding virtual reality technology into presentations will help us share what the actual space will look like, including real-time modifications in materials. Coherent presentations set the ball rolling and are tools to engage the client and encourage discussion with them, as many clients do not possess the technical knowledge to visualize the space through renderings, and thus this helps avoid misinterpretations later on in the project. At the end of the day, any embraced technology basically supports our communication with people from different walks of and across continents.
Is there a certain design process you follow?
Tactfully finding a balance between what clients want and what they need is crucial in our industry. There is a series of things that come into play while creating a design. We start by feeding the project with ideas, then the project begins to itself guide the way for us. Experimental yet restrained is something I like to believe works for me.
Budgeting is an imperative part of a project, albeit an important one. In reality, a tighter budget evokes more creativity adding more value to the design. Every project is a new adventure and discovery!