Designer Nida Mahmood shows us how to create a kitsch décor without going overboard.
Indian kitsch is the muse of the self-taught artist and trained designer Nida Mahmood. With a design philosophy of ´art translated´ in more ways than one, her style of designing is hinged on Indian culture and attempts to create a balanced mix of ´the classic with street´.
Besides designing several restaurants including High on Chai, Bioscope, Sadak Chaap, Machis, The Great Indian Bohemian Tamasha, Sapna Cinema,The Adventures of Capt. Must!Qalandar, Bombay Bioscope, Basanti Foxtrot, Good Luck Irani CafT and Junglee Billee, Mahmood has been associated with brands such as Harley Davidson, Nike, Channel V, Blenders Pride, HCL, NDTV Good Times Absolut, Adidas, Vivanta by Taj. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Amitabh Bachhan, Priyanka Chopra, Kajol, Vidyut Jamwal, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Kochelin, Parineeti Chopra, Esha Gupta, Virat Kohli, Amrita Rao, Kangana Ranaut, Amy Jackson and Soha Ali Khan have also endorsed the Nida Mahmood brand.
In a tOte-a-tOte with SUMISHA GILOTRA she discusses what Indian kitsch really is and how it translates into design.
How do you describe kitsch décor?
Kitsch décor lays a lot of emphasis on mix and match. It is melodramatic and has a colloquial flavour. Colours play a vital role in such décor. Kitsch does not mean forcefully and thoughtlessly throwing garish colours. Kitsch decor celebrates culture. It has a strong mind of its own that has to be subdued. However, it doesn´t mean going all out with everything and anything just to mix and match.
What are the prerequisites of creating this décor?
Kitsch draws a lot from local culture. Pick up elements that talk India. Mix them up with modern contemporary elements. Prints play an important role. Juxtaposing print with print is a fabulous way to do up a kitsch space. Stick to a gentle colour story. Contrasting colours are great but stay within the colours that you are happy living with. For creating kitsch décor, one must keep \mix and match in a planned way. Choose the ideas and elements that you like and weave elements around the story you have in mind. Kitsch décor can revolve around elements thaTt have to do with films, local fabrics, typography and interesting objects from colloquial ideas. Mixing these up in measured proportion of one´s personal taste can do magic to any space.
Kitsch has the impression of being temporary. Is it?
Kitsch is an ever-changing permanent change that can be so exciting. Kitsch allows us to keep changing elements within the décor in order to keep redefining the space and helps keep the freshness alive. The only rule kitsch follows is to have no rules. It is anything but temporary. It is great work in progress, which can be supremely rewarding.
What are the key elements that make up kitsch décor?
Colloquial elements woven with contem¡porary ideas are key factors. There is room for all kinds of diverse unconnected décor items to find bonhomie in kitsch dTcor. The beauty of kitsch is its welcoming nature. One can put diverse elements together, for example print with print, different weaves with prints and solids. One can juxtapose statement print wallpaper with a subtle printed couch like we have done in Junglee Billee, a new restaurant in Delhi. The opposite wall can be dressed up with interesting art or plates to balance the printed elements on the opposite side of the room.
Opt for a white shell and throw in colourful, artistic décor items to create your version of kitsch. Colours must always be chosen wisely. Think of a colour story and make the major decor elements fall within the theme. Smaller elements can be in complementary colours.
Working with local weaves is a great idea. Mixing up interesting art with weaves makes for a great kitsch decor idea. Add vintage objects for an original take on kitsch décor.
What are the mistakes designers make with kitsch décor?
People go overboard with loud colours. One needs to understand the subtle nuances of balancing colours and forms. The simplest trick is to keep the shell of the space neutral and then play with colours and prints in objects, upholstery and cushions. Try to juxtapose solid with print. Focus on one item of decor more and build the look of the room around that with supporting elements. For example, if one is working with a solid coloured bright wall, go for a statement couch to balance the space. Add printed or embroidered cushions on the couch. Use quaint side tables and knick knacks on them to add to the drama. The opposite side of the room can be a more subtle take on this dramatic setting. Curtains must always be understated because they take up a lot of the visual aspect of any room. Keep them low key and play with art on the walls.
What are the tricks to add a kitschy touch to an existing décor?
Simply add fun cushions, knick knacks and paintings. I love bottles as I find them versatile. Try using bottles as vases and candle stands. Paint one wall in a nice colour of your choice and add cool lighting. This will completely transform the room. Add smaller elements in coordinated colours around the room to enhance the wall.
A beautiful way to change the look and feel of any room is to add plants. Do it in a quirky manner - plant indoor plants in cool offbeat containers to add to the cool factor of the room.
Give tips on creating a unique kitsch décor.
One can try an over-the-top look with print on the walls set against printed couches. Control the intensity of colours like we have done at Junglee Billee. The key to a well designed kitsch space is that it must stay pleasing to the eyes while being so interesting that the eye travels all over taking in every detail. I like the idea of marrying diverse elements. At Junglee Billee, we have married modern kitsch with vintage ele¡ments. You can pull out your grandmother´s vintage plates and display them proudly on your wall.
Bring in statement furniture. An old school bench replete with scratches and deformities, for example, can also add up as an awesome quirky kitsch element to build around. Books are a strong element in any room. The kind of books one finds in the room defines the space. Set the room with a collection of coffee table books and display them on quirky book racks.