Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Furniture for Home Interiors – The Build versus Buy dilemma & the changing role of the Interior Designer.

With the unorganized furniture retail market in India touching approx. $20 Billion, early bird online furniture retailers like Pepperfry, Urban Ladder as well as organized furniture retailers such as Lifestyle, Hometown, @ Home & Evok etc. have been busy tightening their supply chain, product designs and quality to capture a fair share of this huge market. IKEA’s phased entry over the next 2 years will signal the second wave of this market consolidation.

To the common home maker while this adds the much-needed choice of furniture and ease of purchase, it brings with it a dilemma - whether to build the furniture or to buy it outright.

The question we are trying to answer in this blog post today is whether the good old days of the “family carpenter” shaving the wood away for months to get the home ready for the family really numbered*? … That comment brings back fond memories of our family carpenter at home, there never was a year when we did not have Shatya ji working the wood, shaving shaping and weaving his magic creating the woody world around us

STOP day dreaming now…back to the article, ahem!

Okay, question 2 - Is the stuff available from the organized furniture vendors good enough in terms of quality, will it last? What things are best bought readymade from the market versus the ones that should be made on site? And finally, how does the role of an interior designer change with impending organization & consolidation in this space, can a customer just do the designing & decoration on her own using the online tools available?

So here goes…the questions have been reordered to build a flow, don’t worry, we will be answering all…read on

Question 1. The question of quality: Can you really trust the mass market and organized furniture retailers to use good quality material that will last?

The answer is both yes and no. If you look at the scope of what is included in household furniture you can classify the pieces into two distinct segments (1) Movable furniture – Things like sofa sets, side/ center tables, dining sets and (2) Fixed Furniture - really semi fixed as everything can ultimately be moved :) – stuff like cots, headboards, crockery units, modular kitchens & wardrobes.

The Movable Furniture segment has always been “buy” heavy because it’s rare for an onsite carpenter to match the factory finish. In addition, movable furniture allows for a decent amount of flexibility as it does not need to fit perfectly into the space provided - compare this to a Wardrobe that ideally needs to be custom sized to fit the space available. For this reason, the movable furniture segment has been topping sales for all organized furniture retailers be it brick & mortar or online. In addition, by now the organized vendors have more or less perfected the balance between material quality and cost to offer products that offer both a good finish and a reasonable price. Therefore, the obvious verdict here is “BUY”

Fixed Furniture on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag. The initial organized retailers in this segment were really modular furniture factories (think Zuari etc.) whose primary objective was to bring costs down. Hence items that they sold, be it wardrobes, crockery units, cots etc. were made from particle board or low cost MDF. Today there are some vendors who offer a choice of material and have differential pricing depending on the base material used, however the cost differential between stuff made from low quality and good quality material is substantial. Since hi quality stuff is expensive, it is uncompetitive. This leads to low sales resulting in a vicious circle (since quality stuff is expensive it is not mass market, the lack of economies of scale keeps the prices high due to which it is not mass market).

In addition to the above, the lack of a custom fit makes fixed furniture not the best candidate for a “buy” decision. For example - a bedroom with a custom-made cot having an upholstered headrest and the electrical switches fixed on a seamless wooden panel above the side tables has a much better feel to it than the same bedroom containing a readymade cot purchased online

That said if one is able to find specific items (say Wardrobes or Crockery Units) in good quality material from niche vendors at a good price during a promotion or a sale and is able to manage the custom sizing constraint via innovative décor - say keeping a vase or a lamp in the free space next to the unit due to the unit availability in fixed size only (more on this in the design section later) then this may be a viable option to consider.

Within Fixed Furniture, Modular Kitchens is a category in itself as it has a fairly large & mature vendor base. These vendors offer a custom fit and a wide choice of designs in different materials & quality based on the client’s budget. This makes Modular Kitchens an easy “buy” candidate. Readymade Modular Kitchens are however not the best option in specific circumstances - say when the builder has given a platform under the counter top or when fixed countertops have been provided by the builder and customers don’t want to remove / replace the same. (Please also read an earlier post on this topic here)

Question 2: The Changing role of the interior designer and whether one can really “self – design” with online tools available.

For long, Interior designing in India has been seen as glorified carpentry. Carpenters self-designating themselves as Interior Designers and the fact that even trained Interior Designers in the country have been “woodwork” focused rather than lifestyle & quality of life focused, has further led to this character assassination of the Interior Designer’s role. I have been of firm belief that customers looking for pure carpentry do not really need an Interior designer (do read this & this) and an Interior design discussion is really a discussion about bolstering one’s life, lifestyle and taste.

With quality “woodwork” becoming available readymade from organized furniture vendors, on site Carpentry is sure to take a hit, at the same time Interior Designers will need to cultivate skills to design homes around product catalogs of established furniture vendors, to make build versus buy decisions based on site needs and focus heavily on the holistic look & feel of the home (not just the woodwork) and the lifestyle of the residing family.

As the Interior Design fraternity learns these new tricks, technology savvy customers looking for just the woodwork and basic space visualization will be able to get this at the click of a button…maybe more like fifty clicks and some rubbing of the touchpad :).

Signing off, as always will welcome any comments and feedback

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Some Photographs of my Home Interior Project at Mantri Serenity - Kanakapura Road Bangalore

This one was keeping me busy over the last 3 months, so apologies for not being too active on the Blog.
This was an end to end Interior design & Execution project including Decor, Furnishings and the full nine yards.
Here are some pictures, shall welcome your comments and inputs


Dining Area

Kitchen Entrance

Kitchen - From Inside

Kitchen - With the Appliances

Kids Room

Kids Room - The wallpaper was customized based on the children's interests :) 

Living, Dining & Pooja Room

Foyer Mural

Dining Space

Guest Bed Room

Guest Bedroom - Another View

Master Bedroom

Another View of the Master Bedroom


Pooja, Foyer Living Room & Kitchen - Full View

Partition cum Showcase

Two Dining Tables :)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Island Kitchen at my latest home interior project in Bangalore

Modular kitchen at a project that I handed over earlier this week. Clicked this on my mobile phone and it just came out well ...felt like posting it on the blog :)

More pics from the project will follow - so watch this space


Friday, February 3, 2017

The DIY Interior Designer Series Bangalore: Home Interior Design Best Practices Revisited

This blog is now over 7 years old and over these years a lot of what I have written about in the initial years has evolved - things like interior design practices, new materials available in the market for home interiors, cost of materials, places to shop for interior work etc. Also, while on this 7 year journey even I have learnt through customers, your own feedback through this blog and my practice in Bangalore.

I am therefore updating some of the most read and relevant articles on this blog so that these reflect the interior design best practices and needs of today incorporating the best of what I have learnt as a practicing Interior Designer in Bangalore over the last 7 years.

In the first of this series of articles...am calling it the "DIY Interior Designer Series"... below is the updated article on Sliding Door Wardrobe design best practices - this has been among the most read and commented article on this blog and also got featured in Deccan Herald's Homes & Interiors supplement today...read on

Sliding Door Wardrobes - DIY & Do it Right

Sliding door wardrobes for homes are the in thing nowadays not only for their look but also for the space they save especially in case of small room sizes.
In our article today we will go through some design principles for sliding wardrobe design that not only ensure the look but also longevity, ease of use as well as safety. You may wonder where does safety come into this - give it a few more minutes and you will know.

1. The Sliding Mechanism/ Hardware
Sliding wardrobe doors must ALWAYS run on slide fittings having wheels on the TOP of the shutter and NOT at the BOTTOM of the shutter. This means that the door hangs and rolls on the runner on the TOP of the wardrobe.
While Top Running hardware is more expensive, it comes recommended for wardrobe shutters because

A)     Since the door hangs from the top it is in "tension" and there is little chance of the door getting warped. In bottom running systems the weight of the door, now on the door itself, can cause it to bend over time.
B)      Bottom running systems (the not recommended ones but cheaper) have a tiny "guide" on the top of the shutter. If the shutter warps then the whole door can fall off as the "guide may come out of its socket on the top" causing both heartache and injury. This cannot happen in a Top Running sliding system. And
C)      Bottom running systems get sluggish over time as dirt gets accumulated in the bottom channel in which the wheel is running making the door difficult to slide - remember the struggle with sliding glass shutters of yesteryear "showcases" that always used to get jammed?

2. Choosing the Material for the sliding door
While deciding the material for the sliding shutters there are two key considerations to keep in mind
a) A material/ design that offers the maximum resistance to warp/ bend
b) Material and design that minimizes the weight of the shutter, at the same time not compromising the ergonomics and the look
One of the simplest ways to ride both the constraints above is to mount 6 mm sheets of Ply, MDF or glass on an aluminum frame to make the shutter. This ensures low door weight and offers maximum bend resistance along with the flexibility of colours and material for your desired look. On the flip side however framed shutters work out to be more expensive than conventional ones.
For plane doors one can also go in for shutters 19mm block board, remember that block board is recommended over plywood or MDF for long panel shutters (7 to 9 feet) as its bend resistance is the best compared to  MDF, HDF or Ply.
For plane doors of over 7 feet it is also recommended to install a door stiffener within the shutter. This is a piece of hardware that is unfortunately not very well known but is readily available in the market and helps improve the overall bend resistance of the shutter.

3. Keeping the dust out
Sliding door wardrobes have an inherent weakness against their hinged counterparts in that dust creeps into them via the open spaces between the two sliding doors and between the carcass and the shutter especially on the top. Hence dust proofing has to be planned for at the design stage itself. 
One needs to install a brush strip in the tiny space between the 2 doors all the way from the top to the bottom. This prevents dust getting into the wardrobe and messing around with your "trousseau". For covering the gaps on top of the wardrobe there are dust blocking pelmets available from hardware vendors that can be used.
 4. No Locks:
Sliding doors WITH locks stand a risk of damaging the wardrobe if the door bangs on the side with the lock engaged. Also the keys (if not taken out) tend to get stuck when the doors overlap in the open position. Hence it is best to do away with the lock itself. If you still need to keep things away from a privy eye then a lockable compartment or drawer within the wardrobe is recommended

5. Avoid that door bang and finger injury
Sliding door wardrobes are notorious for pinching fingers the wrong way as well as closing with a shaking loud bang. To avoid both injury and accident one must insist on soft close mechanisms that are available as optional with sliding door hardware. Also ensure that the mechanism is installed by a trained carpenter. If you don’t have one then get help from the hardware company who have specialist carpenters on their roles who are available for support.
That does it I guess, enough to give you bragging rights when you go checking out those sliding wardrobes in the market or at your neighbors’ place

Happy homemaking

Signing off 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Chickpet & City Market Bangalore for Home Interior Shopping

Found my way to Chikpet/ City Market today after many many years. All this while I have been doing my shopping for light fittings in and around South Bangalore, however for an an ongoing project I have been on the look out for specialty lighting hence thought of checking out what the most touted wholesale lighting market in Bangalore has to offer...all for goodness, was pleasantly surprised

Most of the shops dealing in light fittings are in around BVK Iyengar Road hence the good thing is that it does not take too much googling and navigation skills to explore the market. If you plan a visit just ensure to take Uber/ Ola to get there as there is no way that you will find parking or peace of mind if you are in your own car.

Back to the shopping experience and the good shops. So assuming that you are booking an Ola you should punch in "the junction of BVK Iyengar Road and KG road" as the drop off point (look it up in the map). Why, you may ask ... we will get to that in a moment. Also ensure that you are wearing a good pair of walking shoes.

Why the Junction of BVKI & KG Road is important is that it is the only sane place till which the speed of motorized transport is greater than that of human walk. Beyond this point you are in a car (or for that matter even on a scooter) you will be overtaken both in speed and self pride by normal walking humans - hence the importance of good shoes. The second reason is that the junction is close to the main Electrical Market that is some 300 meters away.

In terms of the good shops I would recommend starting your trip with a visit to Aditya Lamps, they have a very wide range and some exclusive pieces that at least I did not find in other shops. In terms of price however Aditya is positioned at the top end of the market and maybe not ideal (economically) for regular & bulk lighting needs. The same lane has some 20 to 30 other shops dealing in light fittings that you should also check out. Further out on BVKI road there is Kingdom of Lights that too has a decent range. If you spend a couple of hours in this area of some three by four hundred meters you would have seen most of "the Lights" that City Market has to offer.

The surprise entry of the visit was the brass-ware collectibles market that is situated at the southern most end of BVKI road. I get a number of questions from readers on this blog on where to buy decor items in Bangalore and to them and especially for brass ware I would strongly recommend City Market for both the range and the price. I came across a couple of Krishna statues in brass that I just fell in love with and am now in the process of finding place for them at home :)

That sums up the trip today, if you have any experiences on shopping for Home Interiors in Bangalore then do share in the comments section below for the benefit other readers of this blog

Signing off for now


PS: I am not associated with nor do I endorse any brand or vendor mentioned in any of my blog posts. As a policy I do not blog or write for endorsements or money (thankfully God has been kind enough) as that defeats the entire purpose of what this blog stands for.

© Nandita Manwani - Interior Designer & Founder The Studio Bangalore

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Featured among the top interior designers in Bangalore

Featured among the top Women Interior Designers in Bangalore by Nearfox Magazine :). THe original article can be found at https://nearfox.com/bangalore/e/female-interior-designers ... read on,

Seven Female Interior Designers From Bangalore Who're At The Top Of Their Game

Are you conscious about the aesthetics of your home and do not want to compromise on décor? Get an interior designer on the job to have your home transformed completely. Not only will they keep your needs in mind, they'll also customize the design, the hues, and the furniture of the house specifically according to your tastes to turn it into a real home. And as we all know, women today are leading in every creative field there is, these female interior designers from Bangalore are at the top of their game. Take a look!

Sunita K Reddy
One of the most accomplished interior designers based out of Bangalore, Sunita K Reddy lives with a belief of boundless imagination to create extraordinary decors with divine perfection. Having worked previously with acclaimed designers at Ramoji Film City, Reddy also has experience of working as an Art Director in movies. Currently, she is working as a theme-based interior decorator. She excels in both commercial and residential projects.

Ranjani Yogeswaran
Currently the Creative Head and Founder at ‘Interiors by Ranjani’, Ranjani has varied experience of over a decade with renowned names in Bangalore. Thriving on her inclination for old hues, efficient lighting, geometric designs and custom furniture, she has completed numerous projects spanning from luxury apartments to high-end villas and from corporate offices to retail stores.

Nandita Manwani

Nandita Manwani is the founder of The Studio, a design & interior-works boutique based out of Bangalore that caters exclusively to the needs of Home owners. She is also the author of one of the most read blogs on home interiors in the country. Over the last decade, through her writing and her work, Nandita has helped numerous families realize their dream project called “Home”. Nandita is a regular guest columnist with Deccan Herald & her work has been featured in various national and international print & digital media.

Seema Shukla
Starting off as a rookie with smaller design houses in Bangalore, Seema Shukla has come a long way and is currently the Creative Head and Managing Director at Artis Interiorz. Shukla has a incomparable taste for white interiors and her forte is residential interiors and exteriors.

Suniti Bhimani
With a passion for art and design, Suniti Bhimani grew up to graduate in interior design. Her bent of thought for all things dynamic got her into designing. Starting out with practically unheard of designers and architects in Bangalore, Bhimani is now a well-accomplished freelance interior designer, and she works independently under her brand ‘Interiors by Suniti’.

Menaka Singri
An established designer with almost 13 years of experience, Menaka Singri is a kitchen design specialist. Singri presently works as a home décor and contemporary furniture ideas consultant. She has previously worked as a design head for over half a decade after kickstarting her career as an interior designer.  

Sanjana Gajjar
A young and enthusiastic interior design consultant with over six years of industry experience, Sanjana Gajjar is the owner of Zanyana’s Designers Studio based in Bangalore. A writer at heart and dancer by passion, Gajjar has been involved in turnkey projects on residential interiors.
These interior designers are standard-bearers, their work flows with imagination. Homes they transform appeal on the onset, and are inspiring and intelligently done.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Some pictures of Interior work done at Salarpuria Greenage

Some pictures that my client sent me last week of an interior project I did at Salarpuria Greenage nearly 3 years back. Great to see that the home still looks to be in top shape. Have also posted these to the FB page https://www.facebook.com/homedesignbangalore

Living Room design with False roofing and tv unit
Living Room Design

TV Unit design with concealed wiring
TV Unit Design

Bangalore Home Interior Design Pictures, Crockery Unit with painting
Crockery Unit Design

Pooja unit with lighting
Pooja Unit

Modular Kitchen with Breakfast Counter and lighting

Kids Room in Pink with Study table
Children's Room Design

Crockery unit with pebbles and lighting
Crockery Unit Design

Living room with false roofing and lighting
Living Room & False Roofing Design

Wardrobe in Hi Gloss with integrated TV unit and concealed wiring
Wardrobe Design

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Additional Home Interior Photographs of interiors done at Concorde Napa Valley Villas in Bangalore

Additional Pictures of Home Interior Design & Turnkey Interiors at Concorde Napa Valley Bangalore. These have been taken in daylight to reflect the true colours of the home

Wallpapered wall with Couch & Lighting
Living Room Design

View of the Dining room and lighting, false roofing from the living area
Living Cum Dining Room

Couch in Fabric with Cushions
Living Cum Dining Room - Another view

Crockery unit in glass shutters
Crockery Unit

8 Seater Dining Table
Dining Area

Murals on the staircase wall
Dining Area - Another view

Staircase decorated with murals & photo frames and kids play area
The way up

Decoration Pieces

Living room with center table and couch
Living Room

Wall Texture and lighting
Textured Wall

Pooja unit with a temple in marble
Pooja Unit

Wardrobe with Book Shelf and space for decorative items with lighting
Bed Room Design

Bed with headrest and lighting
Bedroom Another view

Interior Design Bangalore

Concorde Napa Valley
Living Room - Another view

TV Unit with wall papered back panel to hide the wires
TV Unit - Awaiting the TV

Modular Kitchen in Hi Gloss shutters

Modular Kitchen Showing Hob Chimney and storage shelves
Kitchen - Another view