Creating ‘Minimal Yet Feel Good’ Spaces
Award-winning architect and interior designer Naheed Mashooqullah has been designing spaces for 26 years now, and she’s perfected the art of creating uplifting yet minimal spaces.
On Interior Design
How do you design a space? Tell us what your process is like.
I detach my mind from the space I design. I generally immerse my mind into that of the user and create ideas from this common space. This gives the client exactly what he wants. All I need to do is to apply my design sensibility very gently to his need. This way I generally get it right the first time. For this to happen, I need to understand both the user and the space in depth.
“I detach my mind from the space I design. I generally immerse my mind into that of the user”
What are your thoughts on the current state of interior design?
Interior design awareness has increased exponentially since I started my practice 26 years ago. There are many young designers now who are contributing very creatively to our public environment.
“Interior design awareness has increased exponentially since I started my practice 26 years ago”
Any particular designers that you like?
Internationally I love the work of Zaha Hadid (as she has broken the boundaries of design time and time again), Jean Nouvelle, Calatrava, Tadao Ando amongst many others.
What design style have you implemented in your own home?
I think the design style any designer uses is a mere extension of his or her own lifestyle. For me I have found great peace in owning less; it is for this reason I designed my house with very few materials and forms. It is very quiet, interactive with nature and meditative. I feel it has an uplifting energy.
“I have found great peace in owning less; it is for this reason I designed my house with very few materials and forms”
On Modern Design
What are your thoughts on modern design?
I find these labels all very confusing. I don’t really know what modern design means, as it’s too vague a term and is used very loosely. Perhaps it means minimal and clean? If so, yes that would be my personal style.
“I don’t really know what modern design means, as it’s too vague a term and is used very loosely”
Any particular modern piece or space that you find interesting?
For me any space that has made me feel good is interesting, but only in that moment. I may want to go back to it, if that memory yearns for it. But sometimes my relationship with the same space changes and I may not feel the same way I did the first time around. It is probably because it has nothing to do with the space itself. It’s always about the observer. We all are in a constant state of change.
“It has nothing to do with the space itself. It’s always about the observer”
Can you talk about a few modern elements that you have incorporated into the spaces you’ve worked on?
I had once seen a Seinfeld show which was themed around the word “nothing”. I loved it so much I made that into my mantra. Can a space have nothing or very little and still have a feel-good element? This is a true challenge for any designer, especially me.
“Can a space have nothing or very little and still have a feel-good element?”
On Responsible Design
What would you classify as responsible design?
Responsible design would be sustainable. The design would take advantage of the orientation and use elements which are environmentally friendly.
How can spaces be more environment friendly?
Using local materials as much as possible is key.
How do you feel about technology?
I design a lot of homes with high technology. Personally I am not a big fan as I find it is not sustainable. It changes too fast and the user perpetually spends both valuable time and resources catching up.
A piece of technology that you can’t do without?
Due to the nature of my work, my phone has become something I can’t do without. I have to work very hard to maintain discipline in using it.
Who do you feel has influenced the design world in a big way?
It has been influenced collectively by all the Masters of architecture.
On Her Wish List
What countries would you like to visit and why?
Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco – all for their vast historical heritage.
If you could acquire any one piece of art or furniture, what would it be?
This is a tough one. Nothing really, I truly have no desire to acquire anything.
Tell us something you would like to check off your bucket list
Every moment is precious. I have had the privilege to see and experience beautiful places. If life offers me more opportunity, I will be happy to take it. If not, there will be no regret.