1. Tell us about your firm, and the firm’s overall design philosophy?
In January of 2018, Studio Será was born out of the desire to create a singular vision that amalgamated the elements of storytelling, art and innovation to all aspects of design, from architecture to product, from set design to branding. Our design ethos largely focuses on the harmonious contradiction of modern and aged textural treatments and the expression of unresolved tension between natural and manmade materials – linking classical tastes to a sophisticated modernity of today’s style.
2. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is there a particular person or place you turn to for inspiration?
We often draw inspiration from the past, while planning for the future. Nostalgia plays a large role in helping formulate the concepts that help guide our design process. At times, extensive research goes into subjects that seem unrelated at the time but later appear to be the missing links. Art deco, Italian architecture from the 1950s-70s, Finnish architecture, movie sets from French & Italian cinema are just some of our favorite go-to’s for inspiration. It’s hard to pinpoint a particular person who we turn to for inspiration – the list is long and colorful – from Carlos Scarpa, and Peter Zumthor, to Wes Anderson and Grace Coddington.
3. In your opinion what makes your design firm stand out from other hospitality design firms or What do you find that is a unique selling point in your designs?
What makes our designs unique is the holistic approach we employ for a design concept, the idea being to encompass a perfect mix of precision, light, color, and shadow in order to evoke a balance of naive modernism that looks effortless yet feels timeless. We take special care to design spaces around where life happens and enjoy working in detail because that’s where the design comes out. As a firm, I’m proud to say we stand out also because we have a team that is largely female!
4. What is your favorite (hospitality) design project completed by your or any firm?
Under the Mango Tree is a restaurant is one in a series of projects we have had the pleasure of working on in Bhopal’s heritage Jehan Numa Palace Hotel, in India. Situated right under a mango tree, this fine dining experience serves a modern twist on a bed of royal nostalgia.
The existing all white 19th century colonial structure is given a contemporary look with the addition of soft tones and clean lines. Modern materials such as metal and glass, custom made furniture and fixtures, terrazzo flooring with geometric copper in lays, sleek metal screens between heavy white fluted columns, create a striking dialogue between the old and the new. Large metal openable windows frame the lush grounds of the Palace, and allow uninterrupted views, blurring the line of inside and out. A floating perforated metal stair emanating from a central concrete planter, pierces through an existing skylight and leads one to the rooftop which now serves as an outdoor seating space. The metal structures on the roof are sleek and delicate letting the magnificent tree remain the focus of the space. The entire design, from the branding to the space, is a minimal yet intricately curated homage to the heritage of the hotel and the culinary precision on the Begums of Bhopal.
5. Are you currently working on anything exciting that you would like to share with us?
Currently we are working on a couple of more restaurants in Karachi – a wholesome café that serves organic, healthy treats. The design of that particular café was partially inspired by colonial architecture with it’s lofty double height spaces articulated via the use of metal and stained glass screens curated with precise proportions and elegant geometry. Another restaurant that we are excited about is a Pan Asian cuisine fine dining place that looks to be an ode to Art deco complete with arches, with a bold yet restrained material palette of concrete and dull gold metallic finishes.
6. What is your favorite design element that is essential in any project, e.g. colors, textures, furniture etc.
Natural light and an experimentation with material is an important part of our aesthetic. Instead of relying on loud pops of color, we prefer to create conversations between textures and patterns. Concrete is one such material that we love to express – and experiment with the myriad of ways that can be done. We hope to inspire a new way of inhabiting space that allows each place to feel unique and curated for its function.
7. What trends have you noticed in hospitality design locally or internationally?
Locally, people tend to overlook the importance of lighting design. It’s either overdone – with spaces that feel far too bright and reminiscent of schools or the revival of Edison bulbs seems to be everyone’s go to. On a positive note, it has been interesting to observe the ever popular trend of making spaces “instagrammable”. It may sound superficial but we can definitely see the upside of it! Internationally, an increasing trend of millennial pink has been something that’s caught us by surprise – mostly, because we find ourselves drawn to it more and more!
8. What five words would you use to describe your firm?
Minimal. Detailed. Raw. Memorable. Relentless.
9. How much time do you dedicate to sourcing products and suppliers for the projects you work on?
The short answer is – too much time! Sampling and mock ups is non-negotiable for us. Sometimes we go through multiple rounds of trying to achieve the right shade of white! For some suppliers – such as concrete, we have a go-to team that has proven themselves to be reliable as well as in tune with our obsessive attention to the finer details. Products like lights, flooring etc. sometimes take up to a month to source – particular if we have decided to take the exceptionally longer route of designing bespoke pieces that are specifically being manufactured for that space.
10. What can we expect to see come out of design studio next?
Coming up next, we are looking forward to a jungle lodge in central India, a part of the Jehan Numa Palace Hotel, situated amongst acres of greenery and water bodies. The overall design experience will be driven by the delicate balance of modern and traditional construction methodologies, and materiality- touching the ground lightly with a consideration towards sustainability. We envision a rustic yet refined environment that marries the experiential traditions of the past with superb hospitality for the modern lifestyle of the moment.