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With the outbreak of COVID-19, social distancing has become a part of our vocabulary since the past month. Our lives now depend on staying home to fight against the pandemic. Amidst this global health crisis, we thought it would be interesting to reach out to some of the best interior designers and architects we know who are responsible for creating beautiful living spaces and who value beautiful living, to see how they are coping with being cooped up at their home.

Without further ado, here is our first interview. Architect, Asha Agnihotri, the owner of Iskra in Salisbury Park, Pune, who sheds some light on how she is beating quarantine blues in a freewheeling chat with Berger Paints India.

Berger Paints India:  What does your day look like?

Asha Agnihotri: My current free time schedule is sipping hot coffee, looking out of the window at the front garden and thinking about my new blog as a writer. With the help of my husband, I am taking care of day-to-day house and kitchen work.

Berger Paints India: What is the one thing you are rediscovering love/passion for?

Asha Agnihotri: I am spending extra time in the kitchen experimenting new varieties using few new kitchen tips. You may consider this as my passion. These efforts are soon resulting into my upcoming cookbook which I am going to dedicate to my husband and son.

I am also using this time to upgrade my professional skills and studying projects done by some inspiring architects as part of my routine study.

Berger Paints India: Do you have any tips for your peers in the industry?

Asha Agnihotri: I would suggest all my peers to use this lockdown period at its best. You may never get this kind of paused time in life. So once lockdown gets over, we all are going to start from big zero. But if you are good, hardworking, and open to learn, then every day is a brighter day.

Berger Paints India: What advice can you give to all our readers to make their own home happier and more productive?

Asha Agnihotri: My name is Asha, which means hope. I live my life with a positive attitude. Even if you may not be able to design or decorate your place with costly furniture or curios, you must keep it clean and cool using paints. You may not use very costly paints but just with paints by Berger Paints, you can do wonders with walls and ceilings.

Kanika Chaudhary, Product Design Head for Prithu Homes in CP, Delhi, spills some home interior design ideas with Berger Paints India and what’s her life like amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Berger Paints India: We understand that COVID-19 has made us all coop up in our home. How are you keeping your living space pleasant and productive in such times?

Kanika Chaudhary: It is up to us to keep positive and help the entire family stay positive. My motto is, “the harder the time, the brighter the smile!” This can get hard if you do not have a passion in life to drive you now, so being a designer I fell back to my older passions to drive me (since work is very slow paced).

I have rediscovered a pride in my profession – of creating beautiful spaces which are keeping people safe, happy and content. Many of my clients have called up and shared how they are enjoying the house in this lockdown.

For work from home during the lockdown, we have designated spaces where my husband works, I work and my daughter takes her online classes.

Berger Paints India: What does your day look like?

Kanika Chaudhary: It is an unprecedented time wherein many like me are learning to manage without cooks, servants and house helps. I have been dividing my time sketching, cooking, playing my Ukelele, office work and writing poetry besides cleaning and cleaning and cleaning! All my exercising is coming from the jhadhu-pocha, tidying up the house and cooking three times everyday.

Berger Paints India: Have you tried any home DIYs during this time?

Kanika Chaudhary: I did everything from painting my daughter’s doll house, apply silicon, make a bird house for sparrows to pineapple upside down cake.

Berger Paints India: Do you have any tips for your peers in the industry?

Kanika Chaudhary: I think this is the time when we have to realise that this pandemic may not be a one-off but very easily be the first of more such incidents in the future. I feel as architects and designers, it is our responsibility to take this challenge head on and spend more time and effort in making our designs:

  • Maintenance friendly – easy to clean
  • Water saving and energy efficient
  • Partially self-sufficient with terrace or balcony gardens
  • Solar panels
  • Efficient rainwater harvesting
  • RO and softener waste water utilisation for irrigation or washing

Berger Paints India: What advice can you give to all our readers to make their own home happier and more productive?

Kanika Chaudhary: This pandemic has made us sit up and realise the importance of the home in our life. It is worthwhile to invest time in understanding the design process. If possible, add interaction zones – lounges and common areas, keep a working space in the house and a corner in all rooms for work from home. This concept is here to stay.

Keep the extra rooms limited in number and add open balconies and pergolas/swings/ landscaping. Add touches of beauty to all rooms by texture walls, panelling, coves, love seats – small enhancements in beautifying the space for ourselves.

We should opt to spend more time in our homes and make it a happy place where we will not mind being locked in again.

Richa Singh, the founder and Chief Designer of Kuvio Studio in Koramangala, Bengaluru opens upon how she is spending her time at home during quarantine.

Berger Paints India: We understand that COVID-19 has made us all coop up in our home. How are you keeping your living space pleasant and productive in such times?

Richa Singh: Yes, we are all cooped up in our homes and I am using this time to work around the living space in a way that it becomes my favourite place to hang out. These living spaces, by their own character are functional. I am taking this opportunity to arrange it and style it, such that it helps me be calm and peaceful, especially when there is so much chaos all across the world.

I am embracing the slow pace and going with the flow. I am trying to use this time to inculcate mindfulness and fine-tune my energy to be in a state of calm – to transform the anxiety and the urgency into industrious conscientiousness. It helps to have a soothing environment around. Sitar and tabla or some form of zen music plays in the background for most of the day. Lemongrass or mogra fragrance oil diffusers fill the air with positive vibes. Indoor plants add to the freshness. With the reduced human activity and a favourable season for migratory birds, I wake up with the chirping of all sorts of birds!

Berger Paints India: What does your day look like?

Richa Singh: A relaxed and calm morning is often underestimated. Honestly, I am relishing the extra hour of sleep in the mornings and grateful for it. The workout too has shifted by an hour. A bonus 30 minutes with the dogs in the garden is the highlight of the day. We even shifted our breakfast venue from the dining room to our garden.

Berger Paints India: What is the one thing you are rediscovering love/passion for?

Richa Singh: It’s two things. Gardening and pottery! In the absence of all domestic help, gardening was more out of necessity in its first week. But as time passed, it grew on me. This reminded me of a potter’s wheel we had in the house somewhere. Luckily, we had the clay that my husband had ordered for one of his workshops in October. With the time and clay in hand, we were all set to start practicing again!

Berger Paints India: Do you have any tips for your peers in the industry?

Richa Singh: With so much going on around us, designing responsibly is the need of the hour. It is a good time to bring sustainability in our main narrative. We need to educate our clients and help them in making the right choice. We could start with simpler things like using locally available materials, engaging indigenous workers and folk artists, incorporating energy efficient systems and focus on zero waste homes. With more of us designing on environmental friendly lines, it’ll set a trend and this will help to develop an eco-system of clients, vendors, craftsman and allied industries.

Berger Paints India: What advice can you give to all our readers to make their own home happier and more productive?

Richa Singh: We are all feeling the weight of monotony. In order to induce a rhythm, it would do you good to change the activities over the weekend. Clear up the week’s mess, declutter, rearrange furniture, and organise yourself for the coming week. Focus on things which unwind you.

Make your workspace comfortable. If possible, use the extra keyboard and get that laptop screen at eye level. If you are working long hours, set a reminder to hydrate yourself and walk around every now and then.

Golden words, indeed! One thing common amongst all the three individuals we interviewed is how they don’t really mind spending time in their safe haven-their homes. Now more than ever, we believe designers and homeowners need to work on building homes that withstand the test of time and use products and materials that are sustainable and safe. To protect the home that protects you, consult Berger Home Shield Waterproofing Solutions.

Remember that what we all are witnessing is apocalyptic in proportion but we need to behave responsibly and make smart decisions. All of us are spending a lot more time at home than we might like, but the truth is that our home is our biggest safety net in such testing times, Ghar sabka rakshak. Stay home, stay inspired and help humanity!

One Reply to “How Top Interior Designers Are Spending Time in Quarantine”

  1. Molaya says: May 6, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Very inspiring article. Nice to see Indian women so cool and hopeful at this difficult time and marching ahead.

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