Architect & Designer Profiles

Venus Williams is serving aces with her interior design firm V Starr

The tennis titan’s successful South Florida-based interior design studio V Starr in many ways reflects her career on the court

When interior designer Sonya Haffey first met Venus Williams, she didn’t recognise her right away. “Maybe it was because she was sitting down, but I remember thinking she looked familiar,” says Haffey, now principal at the Williams-owned, South Florida-based interior design studio V Starr, who recalls the faux pas as being equal parts amusing and embarrassing. After all

5 interior designers on why Modern Prairie is the next big thing

Chances are, you’ve never heard of the Modern Prairie aesthetic. After all, it is one of cowboy country’s best-kept secrets. A sophisticated take on traditional farmhouse, it’s a style that traces its roots to America’s Prairie movement of the late 1800s. Lately, we’ve seen a resurgence of the aesthetic, with interior designers across America reinterpreting the style in their own unique way. Here, five designers take us through what Modern Prairie means to them, how it has informed their work, and why they think it’s only going to get bigger.

How HGTV star Ali Budd built a design studio spanning the globe

The Toronto-based interior designer has projects in Canada, the United States, Costa Rica and Antigua—with more countries in the pipeline

Even as a little girl, Ali Budd always knew she was destined for design. “I’d spend countless hours with my dad drawing, hunting for furniture to rebuild or refinish, and turning various rooms into elaborate forts,” recalls the Toronto-based interior designer and founder of her eponymous design studio. “My parents were entrepreneurs, and I grew up at their ad

[Print] Rooted in Africa: Designer Jomo Tariku on Reimagining African Furniture

Growing up in Ethiopia in the 1970s, Jomo Tariku was always surrounded by beautiful things. His father—a US-educated colonel in the Ethiopian army, designated the first military attaché to Kenya—was a consummate collector of glassware, furniture, rugs and objets d'art, acquired on his travels within Africa and beyond. “I believe that left a lasting impression on me and what I do now for a living,” says the Nairobi-born, Virginia-based industrial designer. At the behest of his father (who wanted to keep his two young sons out of trouble), a young Tariku did a summer apprenticeship programme at a local furniture builder in Addis Ababa before moving to the United States in 1987 to pursue a degree in industrial design at the University of Kansas. It was there, while he was completing his thesis on contemporary African furniture, that his design practice was born. And yet, it would take another thirty years for the world to truly sit up and take notice.

[Print] Meet the Makers: Pavitra Rajaram and Bharat Floorings & Tiles

Seven years ago, on a boat ride to Alibaug, designer Pavitra Rajaram and Bharat Floorings & Tiles Vice Chairman Firdaus Variava pondered a collaboration in passing. By the time they disembarked, the idea became a thought. But for the next seven years, it had little room to grow. That changed in 2020. To mark the centenary celebrations of Bharat Floorings & Tiles, Firdaus was keen to launch a special centennial collection. And that long-ago conversation with Pavitra seemed like a wonderful thing to manifest. “We were looking for someone to do a spectacular collaboration with, someone whom we loved and respected enormously and who would give us timeless designs—and who better for this than Pavitra?” he says.

[Print] Name to Know: Thierry Journo

When Thierry Journo named his lifestyle brand IDLI, he wasn't paying homage to the much-loved South Indian breakfast food. Instead, he was tipping his hat to the country in which it was born. "Not many people know that it's simply an acronym for 'I Do Love India'," says the Tunis-born designer. The son of French-Italian parents, he spent the first six years of his life in Tunisia, before moving with his family to Paris, where he completed his schooling. As he got older, it was clear to him that his interest lay in art, more specifically in art history. He thought: what better place to learn it than the Louvre?

Vinu Daniel on the glory of garbage in architecture and Chuzhi House

Vinu Daniel never aspired to be an architect. Born in Dubai to parents of South Indian origin, he was always expected to pursue something mainstream, such as law or medicine or even chartered accountancy. ‘Certainly anything but Carnatic classical music,’ jests the founder of Wallmakers of his childhood proclivity for the arts. In a bid to reconcile his passions and his family’s hopes, Daniel moved to India for university, enrolling at the College of Engineering Trivandrum for a degree in archit

[Print] Heartfelt Memories: Melissa Joseph

As a child growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Melissa Joseph was deeply influenced by her father's Malayali heritage. "From the lungis he wore everyday to the appams he taught me to make, and the Malayalam music and movies that were constantly blaring from speakers around the house, there were reminders of Kerala everywhere," recalls the Brooklyn-based artist of her bicultural upbringing (her mother, an American, hailed from Pittsburgh). And yet, for Joseph, the only tangible reference to her Malayali roots was photographs. "These images were my connection to family far away, whom we would visit every few years. I would see my aunts and uncles and cousins, my grandparents and my great grandmother, and hear stories about them at the same time I was learning about figures from the bible and reading fairytales. All of these characters took on an almost mythical existence."

Julien Sebban of Uchronia on his love affair with colour | Effect

At the age of six, Julien Sebban was gifted a Kapla set for Christmas. “I started creating structures right away,” recalls the founder and principal of Paris-based design firm Uchronia, for whom the game—which involves constructing 3D objects—sparked a fascination for the built form. “I come from a family of doctors and lawyers who wanted me to follow a similar path, but after repainting my room dozens of times as a teen, I quickly recognised that I was destined for design.”

[Print] Getting Candid With Smita Thomas

Of all her memories growing up, Smita Thomas's most significant are those of her mother. "Specifically, her fingers. She was always very creative, making intricate dolls, painting with oils and watercolours, doing needle art and conjuring up the most exquisite puppets," recalls the founder and principal designer of Bangaluru-based design firm Multitude of Sins (MOS). "I never appreciated her then, but as I reflect back, I realise she was so much more creative than I could ever be. I am a designer, but she was an artist." Today, MOS is a manifestation of her flair for the outré, where projects aren’t just projects; they are whimsical experiments with each having a story to tell.

[Print] Meet the Makers: Khanoom

Priyamvada Golcha was raised with a deep respect for craftsmanship. After all, her family had been in the business of clay and particle technology for the better half of a century, and she had grown up around artisans and makers breathing life into the most beautiful ceramic objects. "And yet, it took the pandemic to prompt me to venture out on my own. Well, that and Simon," she laughs. This would be British-born, Jaipur-based designer Simon Marks (who has dedicated the last two decades to working with artisans in India and Indonesia), whom Priyamvada met through a mutual friend. "He was designing tiles for a commercial kitchen project at the time, and was looking for someone to make them. We kept brainstorming, experimenting, and the ideas kept flowing. At one point, we realised we were remarkably compatible, so why not set up a studio together?" says Priyamvada.

Legeard Studio on their compelling yin-yang partnership

The designer and architect duo of New York-based Legeard Studio are known to create magic with their complementary design styles

She grew up in Kosovo and left the country as a war refugee. He hails from the Loire Valley in France where he grew up appreciating its architectural marvels. And yet, Valmira Gashi and Julien Legeard’s paths were destined to cross in a country that belonged to neither. “Growing up in Kosovo, architecture wasn’t exactly on my radar. I was always drawn to maths and art

[Print] Meet the Makers: Vāhe Ensemble

It was during a summer trip to Delhi that Vaishnavi Walvekar first met a Naqaashi artisan from Srinagar. It was in Dilli Haat, she recalls, and his name was Riyaaz ji: "His stall had all these lightweight, ornate products—all made of recycled paper. I was pursuing my MFA in Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco at the time, and had flown back for the summer." That this particular summer would change the course of her career—and her life—was something she would only discover later.

[Print] Getting Candid With Gunjan Gupta

Growing up, Gunjan Gupta was her mother’s accomplice in all things design. “Whether it was laying the table or matching her jewellery to her sari, my opinion was always considered. At a young age, my mother seeded in me the confidence to go against the grain. My father, too, had an egalitarian outlook and gave me complete freedom to pursue a career of my choice,” she says. What she also remembers is that she had a mind of her own when it came to aesthetics, arranging the plates and crockery in her own signature style. But that was just the first glimmer the world would witness of the now-acclaimed designer rewriting the rulebook. More than two decades later, Gunjan’s penchant for upending convention remains just as steadfast. Today, she helms three design verticals: her eponymous design studio which specialises in limited-edition collectibles, furniture and objects; Studio Wrap, her interior design and custom furniture firm; and Ikkis, her affordable furniture and object range. Her limited-edition pieces have been internationally acquired by renowned museums including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

Designing Miami star Eilyn Jimenez on interior design inspiration

The founder and creative director of Sire Design—and star of hit Netflix show Designing Miami—is all about the 3Ms: monochrome, minimalist and modern

Eilyn Jimenez dreamed of being a lawyer. “A judge would be more accurate,” quips the Miami-based interior designer, and founder and creative director of Sire Design. After graduating school at 16, the Costa Rica native immediately enrolled at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica for a bachelor’s degree in business. “I thought it would come in handy fo

How Mary Maydan came to define ‘California Modern’ architecture

The former journalist and Palo Alto-based architect has a flair for breathe-easy design

As a toddler, Mary Maydan had a rare proclivity for maths. “My mother noticed that I was very good and she would keep asking me harder and harder questions and delighting in my answers. Like any first-time mother, she bragged about me to everyone. I grew up seeing myself through her eyes,” recalls the former journalist and founder of Palo Alto-based Maydan Architects. But for Tel Aviv-raised Maydan, architec

Linde Freya Tangelder’s Latest Exhibition in Antwerp Is Bold, Brutalist and Beautiful.

Destroyers/Builders is an unlikely name for a design firm, but it suits its founder. After all, Linde Freya Tangelder has never been one to fit the mould. The Dutch-born, Belgium-based designer, whose first solo exhibition—titled FUNDAMENTS—is on exhibit between 1st September and 1st October at Valerie Traan Gallery in Antwerp, has upended the rulebook once again with furniture and objects that riff on brutalist: Basel sandstone objects, brick backrests, untreated oak wood stools, hand-sanded al

[Print] Fresh Off the Farm

As a child growing up in San Francisco, Amalia Graziani dreamed of becoming a philosophy professor. “The fact that I now spend my days on construction sites still surprises me,” jokes the owner of Noor Property Group, who at 31 has made waves as one of Hudson Valley’s pioneering developers.

In retrospect, the unconventional career choice might just have been written in the stars. “I’d grown up doing renovations with my dad and loved the design process but wrote it off as an impossibility. Although I found my way into development inadvertently, I was methodical about making this dream happen once I recognised its creative potential.”

How Gideon Mendelson found his flair for whimsical design

The Brooklyn-based designer has a modernist signature that nods to his beloved late mother, eminent interior designer Mimi Mendelson

Growing up in Scarsdale, New York, Gideon Mendelson was his mother’s biggest admirer. “She had impeccable taste. Everything she did was flawless. And while her personal style was traditional, she appreciated all types of design and could execute almost anything,” says the Brooklyn-based interior designer. So when he launched Mendelson Group in 2003, calling his mo

[Print] Name to Know: Golda Pereira

As a child growing up in Goa, Golda Pereira would summer at her dad’s ancestral home on the island of Divar, along with all her cousins. "We’d spend our days playing in the village, fishing, and walking through the dusty summer fields. At night, we’d sit together on a long dining table for dinner, and then convene in the balcao to exchange stories," she remembers. But the highlight of those annual vacations was a makeshift hut, or homti, that the cousins would build in the backyard, along with some help from their uncles. "Every year, we’d build it at the start of summer, and take it down before the monsoons arrived," she recalls, adding that as the years progressed, the homtis became more complex, and the cousins would try to outdo themselves every summer. "There was a feeling of excitement of having built it with our own bare hands. Today, my outlook on design comes from these experiences, besides the more obvious influences: Goa's heritage homes, our beautiful village lanes, rivers, and the environment where they coexist."
Load More