Catching up with Shweta Kaushik - The Ace Interior Designer Behind Mumbai's Most Instagram-Worthy Restaurants

Priyanka Parmar
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Shweta Kaushik

Many of Mumbai's stunning and Instagram-worthy restaurants and cafes are the result of one woman's creativity and passion. It's none other than Shweta Kaushik!

We live in a time where everything is about collecting experiences be it exploring an exotic location, swimming with wild sharks, picking wild strawberries or even dining. Especially dining. With so many options available out there, the millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z populations are looking for spaces that can give them a new and Instagram-worthy experience. Many of Mumbai's new and upcoming restaurants are designed to ensure their customers get just that with an unforgettable experience and they're doing so with the help and creativity of ace Interior Designer - Shweta Kaushik.

Shweta Kaushik is an award-winning Interior Designer and stylist based in Mumbai. Amongst her numerous accomplishments are also various restaurants and cafes that the design maverick has breathed life into, under the banner of her studio called, Shweta Kaushik Interior Design. The spaces she designs match the pulse of the target audience a brand is looking to capture along with optimal functional usage. What makes it all the more interesting to the netizens is how Instagram-worthy all of her carefully designed and imaginative spaces are.

Some of Shweta Kaushik's most famous projects in Mumbai include The Homemade Cafe, Terttulia, Bayroute (Palladium, Juhu, BKC, Powai and Cuff Parade)Out of the Blue etc. But her work isn't restricted to Mumbai, the talented designer has left her mark in several other cities including Delhi and Dubai. Her commendable work has been featured in prestigious periodicals and magazines and she has also been listed in the Top 50 designers of the next generation in India by Architects and Interiors India.

We recently caught up with Shweta Kaushik and got the opportunity to peek into her extremely creative mind. Here's how the conversation went...

1. How did your journey of designing interiors for Mumbai's culinary circuit begin?

"I always found restaurant and bar design interesting and engaging. when I started out my career as a young professional I made a conscious choice to work with design firms that specialize in hospitality. Working with these firms helped me understand how hospitality design differs from other space design and how there are many layers to the premise of creating an experience for the patron of the space."

2.  What is the first thing you do when someone approaches you for a project?

"When someone approaches me for a project, we usually have very long lengthy discussions to answer the 5Ws: Who, What, Why, How, When. I encourage my clients to give me as much information as they possibly can which allows me to perceive and pre-empt what they are expecting from the final space. Once I have all this information, I work on the concept and story which when approved, becomes the "core design" of the project to which every design decision must adhere to."

3. Out of all the projects you've worked on, which one's your favourite?

"I would have to say any of the Bayroutes have definitely been my favourite so far. Bayroute's design concept has been so much fun to play around with. It's been challenging due to our decision to make each outlet different in terms of experience yet staying true to the "core design" of our original mood board. Each Bayroute outlet has a unique ambience but what remains constant are the hot air balloon lights which are synonymous with the brand."

4. How important is it to create the perfect ambiance for the end customers?

"A great ambiance is imperative for the customer experience. A customer is going to have an opinion of the place within minutes and it's crucial that the experience is exactly what you want them to feel as they spend time. Ambiance includes getting the ergonomics of the furniture right for comfortable dining, using lighting to set the right mood for the restaurant, making the design cohesive with the ambiance you want to set and who you are designing for. If we get this right, with great food and great service, a restaurant can have a customer for life."

5. How important is it for you to stay up-to-date with the digital trends and pop-culture that the youth likes?

"Design is ever-evolving and ever-changing and it's crucial to be aware of what direction are people all over the globe leaning towards. This is usually reflective of the conditions during that time. This information is important as it helps us designers stay current and even pre-empt the next big trend. I am always scouring international design blogs, current design trends and youth culture to be able to design for the next generation."

6. Can you tell us a little about your process, right from visualization to selecting physical elements towards the end?

"The process of designing a space starts from getting a detailed brief which we respond to with a material palette and a design direction. I like to spend time researching the concept as much as I can, mull over it for a few days and then sketch out ideas that are developed into full-blown detailed drawings. Vendor selection is important in our line of work because SKID's designs require a lot of customisation as I don't like to pick out readily available materials off the shelves. We spend a considerable amount of time developing wall textures, tile designs, wood finishes etc. to ensure that it stays true to the design core. We do also pay a lot of attention to our decor and art pieces and more often than not, these are also customised. We source them from various different vendors right from online retailers, famous decor shops or even Chor Bazaar."

7. Do things you see every day or around you inspire you as well?

"As a person with a creative bent of mind, I like to keep an open mind. I have been inspired by travel, movies, books, artists, textiles, technology, nature."

8. What are the trends that you see taking over the interior design space for restaurants and cafes?

"Currently, I have observed Biophilic design to be taking over most hospitality spaces. Biophilic design seeks to connect our inherent need to affiliate with nature in the modern built environment. This can be achieved with simple interventions like just adding plants in a space, or making it part of the decor and design language in a more complex scenario. You will find the use of a lot of greens, foliage, flowers and fruit and even animals. I believe this is symptomatic of climate change and deforestation that we are experiencing. People want to recreate around them the important parts of our ecosystem that we are losing."

9. Do things you see every day or around you inspire you?

"As a person with a creative bent of mind, I like to keep an open mind. I have been inspired by travel, movies, books, artists, textiles, technology, nature."

10. Internationally, have the interiors of any specific restaurant or cafe left a mark on you?

"Any work by Tristan Plessis Studio. I absolutely adore his sense of style."

11. Could you define your favourite style of interior design in a few words or lines?

"I would say my favourite design style would be the transitional style. It's best described as a modern version of the classic design style. I love the charming details of the old world styles but brought forward in an elegantly modern and minimal design language but with the use of natural materials like stone and wood and lime plaster. A well-positioned statement plant is definitely a signature SKID element you would find in most of our projects."

Shweta is also the Founder and Creative Head of 42 Design Studio under which she designs and self produces handcrafted limited edition lifestyle products which she creates with just as much love and passion.

Check out more of her amazing work on her official website.

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