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Straight and Forward!

Monday, July 10, 2017, 17:33 Hrs  [IST]

Riddhi Kumar, a Delhi-based interior designer and founder of design firm, Stable, has done highly distinguishable projects in the hospitality sector and got noticed as a hands own creative interior designer within a short of just over two years. A Parson’s School of Design graduate, Kumar, and her team at Stable hopes to overcome the vacuum that exists in research and creativity so that they can break the glass ceiling that is being set up by international designers and their stranglehold in the high-end hospitality design space. P Krishna Kumar spoke to this young designer who nurtures many dreams including creating an innovative and easily replicable shack restaurant concept for leisure destinations like Goa.

Founded by Kumar in 2014, Stable boasts about a design philosophy of “creating stories about concepts” which are fresh. They do complete decor, to accents, visual installations, props across promotions to products and accessories for their clients. The design firm has executed some really distinguishable projects, especially in the hospitality domain since its inception. Those include Spicy Duck at the Taj Palace, New Delhi, Vandaag at the Gateway Hotel Pune, Sera and Boujunhala at the Shangri- La in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, Mister Chai and Sorrento at the Shangri-La, New Delhi. Stable was also closely associated with the Tajness Campaign through their designs at the Taj Mahal Palace, Taj Palace New Delhi, Usha Kiran Gwalior, Taj Mansingh New Delhi and The Taj Land’s End, Mumbai. Their latest work includes the innovative service style at House A at the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. Stable also supports premium beverage brands like Grey Goose, Diageo, etc.

When the canvas for an interior designer is so vast, what makes Kumar and team to focus more on the food and beverage segment? Kumar was quite forthright, “It’s the space where spends on interiors are really large.” There is another reason as well to this fascination, the orientation of the audience or the customers who visit those places – “they are more understanding and detail-oriented,” she informs. Kumar and her team do not follow the design jargons of ‘contemporary’ or ‘modern’; they rather try to give a design which the clients demand and try to create a “cohesive design experience” based on their research in a “thoughtful way.” “You either explain your point of view to the client and bring him around to your view, or try and incorporate his views by understanding his rationale,” she said when asked about the challenge of accommodating the over-ambitious demands of the clients.

Sri Lanka, Shangri La

Her views about Indian designers are also quite blunt. “Indian designers do not research. Therefore, they lack in creativity,” in comparison to their international counterparts. Stable therefore stresses on research and creativity in a big way, she added. They identify the target audience for a hotel or restaurant in the location before finalising the design. They go around the market to understand the market trend, talk to people to discover the trend as well as to understand how “forward” the people are.

Shangri La Bengaluru

Compared to older projects which used to be conceived, conceptualised and executed with a long term view of at least 10 years, people are today not looking beyond three to five years maximum, especially because of changing consumer taste perceptions. This is reflecting on the actual spends on projects on interiors nowadays. Therefore, nobody spends too much on any one ticket item, Kumar observed. “Consumers are getting bored faster than before. So people have to be really smart while spending money.”

Shangri La Bengaluru

As a designer, one has to have well rounded knowledge about every discipline associated with interiors. ‘You cannot afford to say that you only do fixtures and don’t do furniture part,’ she says. Projects in Tier II and III cities are also a big challenge for designers because of accessibility issues. “Easiest projects of course are Delhi, Mumbai types because they are easily accessible and there is no dearth of labour, resources, etc.”

As a designer, Kumar always try to use a lot of local elements. “You can easily distinguish a Stable project as the materials we use are unique and also explore lot of lighting possibilities. We also look at using very strong art work in Stable projects. Therefore, if tomorrow somebody wants to breakdown a Stable project and redo it, they can breakdown six walls and redo it easily,” she comments on the USP of Stable projects. At Stable, they identify what they ‘want to have’ and what they ‘should have’ in advance. More than 75% of the capital goes into ‘should have’ elements and less than 25% to the ‘need to have’ elements. She cites an ongoing night club project where lighting component is consuming 75% of the design investment, and rest 25% for all civil, furniture, etc.

When tried to ponder her ‘dream project’, Kumar sounded more modest of doing something to standardise the ‘shack restaurants’ along Goa which can easily be moved and replicated ensuring quality and shack experience. She also nurses the ambition of doing something unique in Delhi or Mumbai, considered a playground of international designers, to break the glass ceiling!

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