From the romantic islands of Seychelles and Thailand to vibrant streets of South Korea and Vietnam, fashion designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja have travelled the world. Inspired by the art and culture of these locations, the duo launched their eponymous luxury swim and resort wear label in 2010. Since then, they have wowed global stars Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Deepika Padukone with their flamboyant bikinis, kaftans and the iconic ‘bikini saree’.
Now almost 11 years later, the two NIFT Delhi alumni has diversified their home décor and spatial design arm, Shivan & Narresh Homes. It all started in 2017, when they first designed Narresh’s New Delhi residence, Primera. Two years later, in 2019, they collaborated with modern-quirky décor brand Bent Chair for their first-ever furniture line. Now, their latest offerings, launched during the pandemic, include eclectic rugs, art wallpapers and table linen.
In a conversation with LuxeBook, the designers discuss their passion for design, home design and décor trends and future plans.
How did Shivan & Narresh Homes take shape?
Shivan Bhatiya: The starting point for us to diversify and launch Shivan & Narresh Homes was the pandemic. In the lockdown, we spent a lot of time at home. It motivated us to go back to our drawing board and envision a lifestyle that’s not only laidback but also imbibes lounging at the heart of living well and with ease. Keeping true to this tranquil state of mind of always being indoors, be it for work, workout or leisure, we launched an independent home vertical.
What is the design philosophy of Shivan & Narresh Homes?
Narresh Kukreja: A Shivan & Narresh home embodies three key aesthetics – artistic, bold and sophisticated. These keywords will always remain constant for any space we design. We imagine for our design to capture attention and spark conversations. To translate our design to a four-dimensional space has been immensely creatively satisfying. We are grateful for being able to express our design language in its entirety on a much larger canvas, keeping the brand’s core intact.
Which of your signature prints are also on your new Art Wallpaper collection?
Shivan Bhatiya: Keeping in mind the spirit of escapism, the Art Wallpapers are a distinct rendition of invigorating colours, stories of travel and intricate motifs that lend striking accents to modern-day interiors.
Inspired from five evocative stories — Seoul, Araki, Edomer, Patu & Wilding 20’s — from our brand archive, wallpapers are illustrated across ten unique prints that promise to immerse you in the exciting wilderness of Seoul, picturesque eminence of Seychelles, indigenous tribes of Asia to the whimsical romance of a glorified past, viewed from the kaleidoscopic lens of art and culture.
Many Indian fashion designers have turned to décor and interiors in the recent past. What do you think is the reason behind this shift?
Shivan Bhatiya: The sentiment during the pandemic has been rather similar for all creative people who were bound indoors. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise to see many luxury brands expanding into home and interior offerings as an integral part of their product umbrella.
What kind of an impact will this evolution from fashion to home interiors have on the Indian luxury market and consumers?
Narresh Kukreja: This is actually a very good opportunity for luxury houses and designers to really expand their portfolio. It has led to a horizontal expansion of categories. Not only has it facilitated Indian brands to exercise their influence on offerings that are beyond traditional means like fashion, but also help tap into the entry price-point market through more commercial offerings for homes,
In a way, brands are now engaging with a more diverse demographic audience, which was probably not attracted to the brand before.
Is Shivan & Narresh Homes similar to its fashion counterpart?
Shivan Bhatiya: As a brand, we’ve always thrived on creating experiences rather than just a product. Given the times we are in today, it becomes even more imperative for us to build on the foundation of bringing fashion home to ultimately build a curated lifestyle community. The real essence and DNA of Shivan & Narresh is universal across all product offerings. Wallpapers, cushions, table linens, rugs are some core products under our home vertical. There is an undisputed sense of art, boldness and sophistication, common to these categories, which is similar to the kind of fashion that we believe in.
The moment our home offerings fit into any spatial setting, it immediately sparks curiosity with its eccentric aesthetic and makes heads turn.
What is the process of bringing a décor collection to life?
Narresh Kukreja: The process shifts from finding creative inspiration to finding the right balance when it comes to proportion, size and scale. It is a very different process compared to couture. With couture, everything is intricate and meticulous, and emphasis lies in attention to detail and bringing newness to every piece with a focus on finishing, fit and comfort.
In case of homes, logistical standards are not pre-fixed. They have to be incorporated during the design process like a product’s scale and size. For instance, understanding how large the print will be for wallpapers or the kind of fabric needed for rugs or how user-friendly table linen will be indoors and outdoors. The whole design development tends to be a lot more technical. It is a refreshing challenge as you deal with a different problem-solving skill set as designers, which has personally been a very creatively fulfilling progression for us.
We loved your collaboration with Bent Chair in 2019…
Shivan Bhatiya: The Shivan & Narresh collaboration with Bent Chair imbibes our collective passion for art, design and innovation. It captures elements of the Indian geography by illustrating them in intimate spatial designs. The Patu Series with its strong influence of Dravidian Gond art and Andhra’s Tholu Bomalatta were translated into iconic prints namely Fagun & Koi Coal. An element each was taken from these signature prints to add a new dimension and contemporary spin to imagine it into furniture that’s synonymous to a piece of art.
We designed the Shivan & Narresh X Bent Chair Living Room for the urban home, featuring 13 creations of The Husk sofa, Brute sofa chair, Tusker Coffee Table, Ebony Ash Console, Tangerine Stool, Cinnamon side tables, Udder Bench, Fagun & IconoEye Cushions and IconoEye Rug.
In 2016-17, you designed your residence Primera. Did it turn out exactly how you’d envisioned it?
Narresh Kukreja: Yes! Primera was a big steppingstone for us to get into interiors years ago. With Primera, the focus revolved around a project, where we were physically putting together interior spaces. Back then, as a personal evolution, we envisioned the property to be an extremely minimalistic canvas space that would grow with us over time, and we could keep adding elements to it, given our personal inclination towards collecting art during travel and holidays.
Thus, it started as a very contemporary and minimalistic house. And as the project went along, it started to imbibe some interesting aesthetics. I remember it being one of the first few residential projects to feature Corten steel plates in its exterior façade that we had specially deployed from an engineer in Maharashtra. We wanted the house to externally change colours with seasons. Corten Steel changes from red in the summer to a bright orange in the monsoon to a dark brown-blackish appearance in winters. We found this extremely exciting. Whereas the interiors were kept very lush and light. A lot of greens were brought in to balance the negative white spacing punctuated with art. This project was really like a living oasis.
We just finished The Bohemian House by Shivan & Narresh, in May 2021. It is a reflection of comfort and solitude. Each space has been reimagined to create an intimate sanctuary of modern ethnicity with subtle, bohemian accents. The Bohemian House personifies quiet elegance with beautiful arches, glistening greens, gilded mirrors and a walk-through bar that decorates the space with invigorating colours.
What’s your idea of an ideal home?
Shivan Bhatiya: The pandemic is going to have an immense lasting impact on how interior designers and architects view residential projects. Now, consumers themselves understand and want a certain aesthetic to their homes. This is going to lead to a tremendous change.
It will allow them to demand more room for including unrestricted spaces that are multi-purpose. The idea of having open connecting spaces leading from the living room to the dining to the kitchen or living rooms that can also serve as lounges or work-from-home set-ups is going to be something new and necessary. The fact that you will spend a lot of time indoors, and thus, want to move around freely in a wider space, will win over the sense of always creating more bedrooms that has been a common ask in all Indian interior settings. There will be a gradual shift towards decorating more common areas within the house that can be used for multiple events – for work, leisure, fitness, get-togethers – depending on the requirement.
What’s next for Shivan & Narresh?
Shivan Bhatiya: While Shivan & Narresh Home collection will not be a seasonal launch, we are looking at introducing multiple drops annually.
In the coming months, we will launch a decorative range of luxurious lifestyle accessories that would help our audience narrate a personal story through their home. We will also incorporate a complimenting range of eclectic rugs and decorative cushions that will add comfort, style and life to one’s abode.
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