An interview with designer Nishita Kamdar

22nd Mar '20

Hi all, I’m really excited to share my first designer's interview with Nishita Kamdar, Interior architect and one half of POD – Pieces of Desire, an artisan based design studio that produces the most beautiful collection of furniture all very much with a conscious ethos at its heart. The aim – to promote and celebrate detailed craftsmanship through local Indian artisans with a design-forward aesthetic.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nishita, an accomplished designer based out of Mumbai at this years D/code a few weeks ago. With many accolades now under belt, an infectious personality that oozed a power girl aura – I just knew we would get on. I’m an advocate of celebrating fellow creatives and this lady is taking the Indian design world by storm!

spin_profile_05-1.jpgAbove: Nishita sits on the SPIN swing alongside her partner at POD - Veeram Shah, both humorous yet relaxed - the essence of POD.

Hi Nishita and firstly thank you so much for being the first designer interview on my Journal! We had some great chats over several plates at Bombay Canteen a few weeks ago and whilst you completely took the reigns of ordering me what I had to eat (everything on a strong recommendation from yourself) we also managed to put the world to right talking everything from food, fashion and design to how homes are used here in India that maybe differ to the west. I was really taken on seeing some of your POD collection and I'd love to know more about your background in design…

Thanks very much for having me, I best start from the beginning… I studied at Kamla Raheja VIdhyanidhi School of Architecture and Environmental Studies in Mumbai. I really do believe you get a chance to leave something on this earth. Some of the buildings that I design will outlive me, thus, it gives me the opportunity to leave something behind that is a result of my work and creative efforts. I feel we are all passing on something to generations after us in different forms. Being an architect gives me the opportunity to be responsible and to be responsive to the environment and this was my driving force and the main reason why I chose to be an architect.

At the start of my career, I was fortunate to work with some incredible offices these included Mr Narendra Dengle, MO-OF Architects, Rast Architekten, LAB Architects and Architecture Brio to name a few. I did my thesis ‘The Eyes of the Skin’ for which I won the prestigious Charles Correa award, under the guidance of Samira Rathod. These talents still inspire me and have very much inspired my work to this day.

What we design is not merely to please the eye but to evoke an emotion

Where do you find unique inspiration for your designs?

Design is omnipresent and it touches each and every aspect of being and becomes an inherent part of our lifestyle. What we design is not merely to please the eye but to evoke an emotion, a response to the shapes, materials, textures and colours. It is this very idea that we try to delve into with our clients. The home needs to be tailor-made to its occupants and not be driven by trends. It needs to be a collection of the owner’s memories and not a collection of images they have liked or spaces they have just seen in pictures. Hence we don’t stick to one style when we design - We spend a lot of time with the clients and their family to understand their taste, how they live, socialize, interact and truly understand their likes and dislikes - and then try to adapt to their taste. I think it is really important for the architect to not be selfish and create a home which doesn’t resonate with its occupants. Design has this annoying tendency of being better than yesterday. Design doesn't have a fixed answer ever and that ensures we are constantly reinventing ourselves.

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Above: Studio Nishita Kamdar UNDER THE MANGO TREE project. Photo credit - PHXindia

Can you sum up your unique style aesthetic in designs and furniture?

At Studio Nishita Kamdar we design every project with an extremely passionate and innovative eye. We believe in the simplicity of design to create beautiful complex spaces which appeal to its social and physical context. We love to create spaces that are multi-functional, high on utility and sensitive to the requirements of the end-user. Architecture should indeed not only look beautiful but also feel beautiful and appeal to the other senses of the human being.

We love to use materials and design in its purest form, thus letting them do the talking. We do believe as architects, we are building lifestyles and not just spaces.

screen_shot_2020-03-22_at_17_38_02.pngAbove: A prime example of how materials are used in their purest form at their HOMME HAUS project by Studio Nishita Kamdar. Photo credit - Chitalwala

How was POD born?

The last few years I have keenly observed the rapidly changing nature of the design market, its loopholes, demands and desires I believe it is important for as designers to keep reinventing, this results in an increasing urge to fill these gaps through a new foray in design, whilst also making an attempt to make good design affordable to all, and that is something we are very conscious about through POD. POD is a moment to step back, unlearn but at the same time delve into a much more intense and meditative research driven process and at the same time show the term “good design” in a whole new light.

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rocker_07.jpgAbove: Details from the POD collection of furniture.

What is your favourite furniture piece from the POD collection and why?

The Nest is hands down my most favourite piece from POD. POD is all about seamless blending the traditional and the modern. The NEST is an absolutely delightful take on the traditional Gujarati “Ghoidya” which is a makeshift cradle. The Combination of the age-old Rattan and Teak wood coming together in an all-new avatar, form and technique makes it our absolute signature piece.

Frank: I was also completely taken by the piece, in fact it stopped me in my tracks… I love how, dare I say it, ‘on-trend’ yet classic at the same time - it is a complete triumph in how it works!

crib_24.jpgAbove: THE NEST - a personal favourite of both mine and Nishitas.

What is the most unusual project you've seen your products in (if there is one)?

The project, unfortunately, didn’t go through, but we got a very exciting enquiry from Surat, Gujarat. A Client wanted one of our single swings - THE COCOON for their bathroom space. The thought of someone swinging on our swings, while in their towel (or not) was very amusing and left very little to our imagination, but that was a cool request!

shabnam_02.jpgAbove: The COCOON SWING in all its glory.

You won the prestigious Elle Decor International design awards for 'Best Bedroom piece' - How did it feel to be the winner and is there an added pressure to now come up with an even bigger show-stopping piece?

EDIDA India , held by Elle Decor India , is one of the most prestigious award competitions held for Project Design- and one of the toughest. We sent in 3 of our pieces for this competition and were taken by surprise to have won the Best Bedroom Furniture category for our baby cradle, the NEST. I believe good honest work doesn't need any PR, it will speak for itself and find its own place in the industry. POD is only an honest attempt at giving the world of furniture something that not only looks good but is also functional.

Six months into the launch of our maiden collection SWAY, the pressure has surmounted to launch our second collection. But we are all in testing times right now, the future is so uncertain for us as a world. Let's see where it takes us - but yes, our minds are already ticking, and out sketchbooks full of new ideas- so wait and see!

nest2.jpgAbove: Aerial shot of THE NEST. An incredible take on the 'Ghoidya' that won the prestigious EDIDA award for Best bedroom design.

What trends have you got your eye on for 2020?

2020 is going to be all about being Big and Bold.

Monolithic Forms, seem to date back to the primitive times from the ancient rock-cut architecture in India to the Parthenon and Even the Stoneage, where large singular objects and geometries, forms and colours were used to express design. Restraint in Design is a virtue, and monolithic forms are all about restraint. Bold Key moves and shapes of the monolith, not just show the designers impeccable sense of design restraint and need for minimalism, but also manage to make a strong impactful statement, just by its sheer volume and form. The need to cut down on unnecessary design moves is what I forsee this year as well. It will be all about subtle, smart, intelligent design that creates a strong understated sense of drama.

We at the Studio strongly follow the principle of “Less is More” and hence consciously choose to design elements that are true to their function, minimal as well as grab eyeballs in the room. The beautiful Black terrazzo monolith Dining Table we cast for our project The Homme Haus, not only becomes a functional piece of furniture, but also a room divider. It's sheer minimal yet striking cantilevered form and carefully articulated intersections between different planes, makes it a striking feature as one enters the home.

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Lastly, have you got any tips to update your home in these surreal and challenging times where our homes are truly our sanctuary?

We are all in this time and age were there is excessive information given to us, and that we are exposed to - information has become very easily accessible to all. It is important to find our footing, and our path that we want to follow - else it is easy to get lost and not have an identity. Soak it all in, step back, and filter out unnecessary information.

A home evokes a feeling, unlike simply a space. Every corner has to be personalized, full of memories and should be the best representation of one's self.

nishita.jpegAbove: Nishita Kamdar... The lady herself.

Follow Nishita on Instagram - @studionishitakamdar or POD - @pod_piecesofdesire or www.studionishitakamdar.com. All POD photo credits - Niveditaa Gupta

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