In the year 2007, a woman made a discovery. A discovery that changed her life after 4 years. She conferred upon herself a lifetime achievement award for her first post. 🙂 The shops selling exotic/designer items in Mumbai are wearing a deserted look these days and the ones in Gurgaon are all smiles. Presenting to you an interview with one of top Indian Interior Design bloggers. Rajee Sood takes us on a journey filled with enticing visuals and amazingly decorated homes. Are you ready? Read on…
Q: When and how did you start blogging?
A: Back in 2007 I discovered blogging … but being a very ‘technology freaks me out person’ it was not until about the end of that year that I slowly started fumbling around with setting about a blog … the first blog post, felt that I deserved a life time achievement award … that high, has stayed with me and in 2011 … I’m still discovering so much more that there is to blogging .
It all started with the fact that, being a stay at home mom … hopping around the world with my husband, bag, baggage and all. I had no illusions that no body out here was missing me as a Designer and so the only one feeling sorry for me would be but of course only me. I had no plans to let life pass me by and let Interior Designing be a faint memory. That is when blogging came into my life … I really had no idea about the potential it had … but it felt like a step in the right direction … guess it was a great chance I took.
Q: A professional Interior Designer has a very interesting work lifestyle. Can you tell us more about it?
A: An interior Designer is a person with the technical know how and the aesthetic sensibilities to anchor a project. A person who can get down to working with masons and carpenters with as much ease as he/she is dealing with fabrics… antiques and accessorising the final look of the space. You are even a psychologist trying to understand the needs of your client. From dirt and grime, to glamour look and finish you can get it all … guess there are times you look at what you do and it makes you feel the wow moment … its definitely not the table and chair …9-5 kind of monotony.
Q: What is your take on Interior Designing in India? Do you think the Indian traditional style of decor is taking a back seat as compared to the International style of decor?
A: Interior Designing in India has definitely arrived. In a room full of people, credentials as an Interior Designer surely make people turn heads and take notice. That high is the reverence. But for it to actually be taken as an art of fine aesthetics, that is still going to be a while. We have some great work being done in India … but those are a few niche Designers.
Everything does not stay on for ‘always’ … and it doesn’t go away ‘forever’. Styles are trends … and trends are cyclic. And I think its okay, and we ought to keep nationalistic and patriotic sentiments out of personal tastes. Pasta and Sushi haven’t muscled dal makhani out, and same goes for all the International décor styles making inways to India.
Q: We have seen a variety of decor style in your blogs, right from traditional Indian to French style. What’s your style of preference and why do you prefer it? Also, every state or country has it’s own decor style. Which one do you like the most and why?
A: Its fun introducing my readers to so many different styles. Its like creating a catalogue for readers to keep coming back and referring, while they search for what they’d really enjoy.
As for my personal preference … I have a very strong leaning towards the Fauji style (grin-grin)… and the reason being my family roots from the Army. Now, you’d ask what in the world is a Fauji style. Well, a typical Fauji home is a home with all things collected and put together from different parts of India and may be even the world. Each piece has a story behind it … things are not matched but just very well co-ordinated. It’s a very personal style statement. And that is me. Each piece in my home is collected, I love things for the story they come with. Some pieces are stubborn to fit in, but eventually I figure out a way to co-ordinate them and my home feels like and reflects us.
My interest in a particular style is very transitional. Its like a infatuation period and then move on … please don’t scream blasphemy. Its more of a case of a kid in a candy store.
But these days, courtesy blogging I am discovering and loving the Swedish Style a lot. I am completely absorbed in understanding how they work with whites … greys and their different tones and yet create very warm homes.
Q: Is photography among your favorites? What are your interests other than interior designing? If Rajee was not designing then what would she be doing?
A: I guess I never really thought about it, but The Camera has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t think of it as, does it interest me or not. But its just always there. And with all the pictures in my blog I guess the answer is yes, it is one of my favourites.
You know, Interior Designing was my whole- soul, life absorbing passion and so somehow it became my profession. And having said that I do admit I have other interests but they all somehow find their connection with my Designing. I am a big history buff… though don’t expect me to be ranting of dates and events, but things connecting to history are constantly playing in my mind. Genealogy, is another of my interests. I have a magnetic attraction to anything and everything related to it.
Travelling attracts me for the sheer reason of exploring exotic markets and looking for amazing new finds. And I love the wild outdoors for selfish reasons of collecting new plants.
If Rajee Sood was not designing, she’d probably be a politician or an environmental activist or an animal rights activist. With a farm full of old horses and strays … shooting off at people not to mess with her… 🙂
Q: You have a new addition to your family, Sofiee! How do you manage your home decor with two pets and a toddler? Some tips on how to manage pets with kids and still keep ones home as good as yours. 🙂
A: I don’t know what pets you are talking about. I have a home with three kids… two of them being my adoptive kids from a different species with four legs and a tail…:). As for the décor, I do make sure I am not impractical… you can’t have your Persian carpet out when your puppy is still potty training. And thank God, for the awesome washable paints in the market, happy writing on the walls.
All those people, with lovely canine babies will agree with me, that teach them and they know their manners and learn good habits (no I am not telling you to go get a dog trainer…I am talking about being a parent to them in the same way).
Besides, deep breathing and counting 1-10 before venting your anger and yelling what mommy don’t appreciate helps…
Let me share that my house is our home, that finds me picking up after the family every morning … from doggy toys in the drawing room to water colour stains on the dining table… furniture moved all over the house for all the fun times … doggy chases, girlie house play and tea parties under the tables. So lets be fair in believing that pictures are to inspire and homes are to be lived in and so they are bound to be a lil’ off here and there ever so often.
Designing does not mean your home has to be starch stiff … it is a place which reflects your style and the more you live in it, more beautiful it gets.
Q: The biggest challenge a designer faces is when he/she has to understand and distinguish between his/her personal style than their clients coming in for design solutions. How do you manage to diffrentiate? How do you visualize things?
A: My personal style is what I like to come home to and feel myself. And as a professional it may and may not influence the projects at hand. My way to understanding the client starts more like a psychologists approach. It’s a sit down with no holes barred … heart to heart discussion. Sometimes it may and may not have to do anything with the design at all. At that moment it is about understanding the person and laying the basic foundation to understanding their style and them as people, Sometimes people believe they love certain concepts in their space but talking and understanding them I may realise they need to be introduced to options which are more them. Those moments of … when your heart says ‘I didn’t think I’d love this’ are very satisfying as a Designer. Sometimes I ask them to do a bit of a homework … a compilation of pictures of the rooms they love. Basically it is a permutation combination thing. No perfect formula.
Once I get their picture a little clearer, then starts my research on what I think is their style and options suited best to that space. Followed by space planning … floor plans… and the process ball rolls on.
In a recent discussion with a prospective client, I did surprise him with my approach and soon enough, out poured his love for art on his walls … pop came the books to introduce me to the artist I had never even heard about. And I knew we were making headway.
Q: In your blog we find many shops that are unknown to many and which have great furniture. How do you go about discovering them? Do shops approach you to promote themselves through your blog? If not, what would you do if a shop comes up to for same?
A: The shops and markets I talk about are the ones that I go hunting for goodies. Initially I was not approached, but I guess as I develop that category on the blog, I am attracting people and I am now being approached. That is actually quite exciting because I get to discover new shops and designers and the ones I enjoy I will feature them on my blog. But incase I can’t associate with any particular ones, then I think I also have the freedom to decline.
Q: Your mother is your inspiration for designing. Can you elaborate on it? Is designing her interest too?
A: Anyone who knows my mother, admits her to be the most humble and down to earth person. A homemaker all her life, who created such creative vibes in our home that today both her children are in creative fields. I always found myself imitating how she decorated and styled our homes. And she was always smiling even when I was stealing her best carpets, cushions and sarees to experiment with. I sometimes can’t believe the kind of freedom she gave me to play around with and the patience she had. My love for flower arranging is completely her doing. My earliest inspiration magazines were Australian House and Garden that my dad would pick up for her. And even now she has tons of lovely things to say to me and about the things I design.
Though I wonder if she knows how much she has influenced me.
Q: What suggestions will you give to the people who plan to take interior designing as a career or to those who already have? Any designing tips?
A: Well! Honestly I am not someone who has made a mark for herself, to think I can go about advising. But probably as some one in the midst of it, all I can say is real designing starts after you step out of the Design school. Treat it as an art not just as a job to be executed with available resources. You have to get out of your comfort zone to go and find your experiences and inspiration. Interior Designing according to me needs you to always be fine tuning yourself and keep in touch with the trends and styles and new things happening in this field.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now in terms of designing? What are your future plans & your current projects?
A: Oh! Dear I don’t know if I am that definitely planned out … like Govt. of India, 5 year plans. But all I am sure of is that I will have a lot more time to my disposal. As my daughter grows up and I settle down in Gurgaon, I sure have some plans to toy around with. I dream of a store of my own some day, may be a design line of my own, or about writing books on styling Interiors … but I think I’ll just let things unfold for themselves and take it from there.
Q: There must have been times when you wanted to decorate something your way (in your home) and your family wanted it the other way. So which is that one corner you still haven’t decorated your way? If you bought another house, how differently would you decorate it than your current home?
A: There are no particular corners and spaces but yes, I have a way of shocking my husband with my choice of colours for the walls and finishes on the furniture. And I do tone them down so that everyone in the house is comfortable.
So give me another house and we’ll have some experiments with colours and finishes. But nothing much besides that. I usually manage to find uncontroversial common grounds and my family pretty much agrees with me.
Q: What’s your take on blogging about interior designing in general? Do you think every designer should have a blog to showcase their designs and talent? Is it helpful for the designers and their niche audience?
A: Blogging gets you more interaction with your target audience and unexplored prospective ones as well. With a whole fraternity of design bloggers from around the world … you are faster to pick up on design trends, styles and solutions. As a designer, blogging is a great medium to get out there. If I was looking for a designer, finding one with a blog , where he showcases his designs … shares and discusses them, would sure give me more insights to his work and how updated is he.
But there is such a lack of Indian Interior Designer having even their basic web sites to showcase there work, that blogging is a big question mark. Infact, besides a few firms … most don’t even show their work on the websites if they have one … you’ll find pictures from some international media being showcased to state they do that kind of work.
Q: Which are your favorite blogs in the Indian Blogosphere?
- An Indian Summer
- The Latin Sardar
- The Urban Gardener, and most recently
- The Mad Tea Party… but honestly there are a whole load to the list.
Q: We all know your love for gardening and plants. How and when did this inclination towards gardening start?
A: That is my heritage from my dads side. I was always his assistant. And he was very clear that, that’s about how far I could go in his garden. So the frustration made me a rebel… I took over the fruit garden … stole a lot of his plants. Killed them all and kept trying with newer steals from his side of the garden. But design school made me more professional over years. And I designed this water garden on the 5th floor terrace in Pune. My first project and the tryst with gardening and landscape design continues.
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: Oh! Absolutely … many times the pictures I take don’t turn out like I planned out things in my mind … or somehow the whole theme of the post does not suddenly appeal to me, or I go brain bunk. Initially, I used to fret a lot about it. Now I am learning that it is okay because I don’t want a post that’s not justifiable on the blog. So I guess junking a post is better for me than having a junk for a post.
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
A: I do. Lets face it, no matter what you have on your blog, you have to promote it so that your people get to know about it … since reaching out to larger and growing readers is what I am aiming for to be able to develop it as a platform.
I use Facebook in a very big way and along with that the networked blogs application again on Facebook. Both get me readership from Facebook. And all the readers along with the friends on their list can access my blog instantly … the domino effect of people following what their friends are reading has more than doubled the number of people I get to reach out to.
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: For me to interact with them is important. If a reader takes the effort to leave you a comment, it feels nice to hear back from the blogger. After all for me and most bloggers I assume the whole idea of blogging is to reach out and … that can’t be one way. I absolutely make it a task for myself to respond to all the comments. And it is so amazing to hear what my readers have to say and the way my work makes them feel that it is impossible for me not to reply.
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A: Getting to hear from the readers how they were inspired by a post of mine … the pictures they send me to show what was their own interpretation in their home. Can’t describe in words how that feels. Its an amazing feeling and very humbling at the same time. Makes a very special bond with your readers.
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
A: No reason why you should not have one. It is a great medium to make it work for you. The creative options possible with blogging are so many, that you may figure out the world of blogging very differently from what someone else may be interpreting it as. It’s quite a world of, each to his own. And his way.
Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?
A: Oh! That one goes into one of my new year resolution. I look forward to attracting some interesting sponsers.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Color: Creams and Beiges but I love Black as well.
Movie: Devil Wears Prada.
TV Show: Spooks.
Book: I am coffee table books person so I am still enjoying the Jewels of the Nizam.
Time of Day: Early morning.
Your Zodiac Sign: Gemini.
Thank you Rajee for the detailed answers in this wonderful interview. We didn’t split this into two parts, since it is an enjoyable read as a whole. We are sure our readers would be rushing to read your blog and re-decorate their houses. 🙂