Varsha Desai : Corporate Interiors

“Could this letter,” Perry Mason asked Della Street, “have been written by a woman?”
“Why ask me?” said Della
“I just want to get the feminine angle.” She laughed,“There aren’t any feminine angles ? they’re curves.’

Varsha Desai, the name conjures up gorgeous interiors, the kind only Varsha can create. Her interiors take curves and shape beautifully. She has recently been awarded the prestigious Interiors Today Award For Excellence in Design and Architecture ? the ultimate recognition in architectural and interior design profession. Not that awards matter to her now, “ at my level, its the recognition to the creative pursuits which matters most, but this award has a special meaning for it is by our fellow professionals, who have decided that you deserve recognition for your services rendered to the architectural and interior design profession.” comments charming and vivacious Varsha enthusiastically.

When I called her up for an appointment, the voice which greeted me was anything but businesslike. `You are sure you want to interview me?’ she quizzed. When I persisted,`Okay, make it after three in the afternoon ? that is when I am at my creative best,’ she quipped.

At her office at Prabhadevi, Varsha, despite the huge desk behind which she sat, looked most unbusinesslike. She gave me the impression of collegiate. No make?up, not even a dash of eyeliner or lipstick. Her thick hair were swept to one side. Beautiful and with an air of confidence, which only success can bring, she waved us into a chair.

When asked to begin from the beginning, she lifted her chubby face and stuck her nose up in the air like a child and revealed that, : Starting her career in 1971, armed with a diploma in `Interior designing’ from Delhi Polytechnic for Women, initially she worked with Kavita Kapoor, the well known Interior designer and later on established her own `Dvvar Interiors’. Initially the commissions came from friends, their friends and so on. But soon, her talent bloomed and came to be recognised, and she was right on top of the creative world.

To begin with, it was difficult. Interior Designing had not yet begun to be recognized as an important art and craft. People, those days, never took her seriously. They preferred do up their own places depending on foreign magazines and get their work done by the carpenters. It indeed took a lot of effort, energy and persuasion to convince people regarding investing in their interior designer.

It is the easiest thing in the world to be unhappy. That is to say, it is a rarity to find a person who is completely happy, especially where his or her career is concerned. But Varsha proves an exception. She seems to be quite satisfied with the way her career has shaped.

Right from her childhood, Varsha has been exposed to and lived in an artistic atmosphere. “I lived in very ethnically refined environment. Our house was  designed by G.M. Bhuta who designed places like Rajghat. So I was exposed to good architecture right from my childhood. Gradually interiors began growing on me and I found it fascinating as a career. Those days, not many thought of it as a career, it was more of a hobby. My work has matured over the years, and I love it. No, no body has really influenced me in my creativity ? whatever I create is all my own.My world has taken a new dimension. It is such an interesting profession. I love every moment of it.” she states with confidence and a grin.

It is the easiest thing in the world to be unhappy. That is to say, it is a rarity to find a person who is completely happy, especially where his or her career is concerned. But Varsha proves an exception. She seems to be quite satisfied with the way her career has shaped. “But,” she says philosophically, “each profession has both negative and positive sides. I have had both kind of experiences, but mostly the latter. Most of the people have appreciated my work when they came across it.” About the experiences of the former kind, she would rather forget them and not remember them at all.

By and large, she coordinates with the clients personally and tries to give them what they want. But, what happens in the case the client is not aware of what he wants? What kind of rapport does she share with her client? `The client has mind of his own so it is not always possible to convince the client and whole depends on how you put forth your plan, the situation becomes difficult when the client is very rigid, but such of things hardly take place. Most of the time I have found that when the client is co?operative, we end up with a better job.’ she says  According to Varsha,  the client should have full trust and faith over the designer, if he wants to get better results.

A good design must take care of the  needs and functions of any interior, it must be cost?effective, and above all, for a designer, the prime consideratio should be the interests and needs of those who are going to inhabit it.

About her style of functioning and guiding force, she says : I don’t follow and do not want to follow a particular style but instead I like to create something new. India itself is rich in handicrafts and designs, so to refer to them is a guideline. I go abroad very often and study the latest colour schemes and patterns and designs. These in the long run are just a guiding force for me, as I hate to ape. Moreover, of late, I seem to have developed a special liking for ethnic. I look everywhere, all the time.

Talking about her first project, which was film?actress Rekha’s, house, Varsha exclaims : Oh, it was wonderful. I was designing for the first time, I was always in tears when I was on the field. It was very tough, for the first time I was exposed to the practical world. I had to buy each and every thing from a nail to a screw to bigger things. But it was wonderful.

About the kind of projects she prefers, she has to say : I have done more of residences and less of corporate offices. Even though she has no major likes or dislikes, she finds designing big Bungalows and corporate offices, these things certainly demand much attention, but as you carry, it becomes much earlier and smoother. But then everything depends on the brief from the client, on what is required. `I feel ready to tackle any challenges. A variety of commissions gives the designer the advantage of coming fresh to each new task. I like doing things that people like.,’ she says with confidence. Her major strength, she feels is that she does not have any pre?conceived ideas. Another major strength is that she thinks in complete concepts, rather than plunging straight into individual designs.

Varsha takes her responsibilities as a designer very seriously, and expresses her views with clarity and force. She is quite critical of untrained personnel barging into the industry and proclaiming themselves to be interior designers.

She says : `Today in each every corner we come across shops of Interior designers, people who are totally ignorant even carpenters call themselves an Interior designers. Don’t you feel that it lowers dignity of an Interior designer who has really struggled hard to raise himself/herself to this level.  This is a serious question which we are facing today. Strong steps would have to be taken. That is where the associations come in. They should put their foot down and refuse to admit anyone, who is not a qualified design practitioner.

As her contribution towards this, she  is on the  guest faculty of Bombay’s SNDT University, where she teaches the interior design students.

Her feeling about receiving Awards and Recognition : It was wonderful receiving the first award of my life. It was in 1983. The award was by IIID. The second was again by IIID in 1989, it was for designing office and restaurants. But, but receiving Interiors Todays award for Excellence in Design and Architecture for 1991, has really elated me. Because, unlike other awards which are awarded for one particular work or are a result of a submission, at last this is a recognition from your fellow professionals, where you had been judged on just one work, but your consistency throughout your career. It is a new kick and high to see that I continue with this. So, what lies ahead for Varsha ? Reveals the Supremo,` Well, to begin with, I would like my office and all designing operations to be fully computerized to get better and faster results, followed by exhibitions from place to place and city to city in order to exhibit my work, designs and artifacts should be exposed to people to make them aware of it.

She fits in all her work perfectly with her family life. Her husband, who has his own business and two kids, have taken her busy and hectic schedules in their stride and are infact proud of her achievements.

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