Interior design is often an overlooked industry, one that helps to set a valuable image for its customers.
It is not just the outer appearance that matters. What’s on the inside counts too. The internal layout of a building is as much of a concern as the façade. This is where interior designing comes in. With more residential houses, offices and restaurants mushrooming in the cities across the country, interior décor has become a major part of living in a space and finding comfort in its ambience.
“Even hospitals and educational institutions demand attractive interior design,” says Bishnu Pathnee, Managing Director of CAGE Consult. According to him, interior décor is connected to ones daily activities, whether working, relaxing or sleeping. He says that it can affect how a person feels while in a certain environment. “The elements around them can fill them up with energy or make them dull and lethargic,” he mentions, adding, “Thus work areas should always be vibrant. Interior décor is something that needs to be kept in mind when creating a space as it can change the ambience and even the emotions of a person.”
As for private houses, people want to portray a sense of individuality and creating a space reflecting their personality has become an essential component of living inside. But in the past, interior décor wasn’t something that people kept in mind when building houses. And, until recently, in Nepali society, interior décor was an afterthought. People used to have bulky furniture or heavy draped curtains in their homes to reflect their social status. However, with time and exposure to foreign culture, the perception of people has changed. Today, people go for wide spaces and colours that brighten up the rooms, mixing creativity with comfort.
Interior designing is a matter of space and creating one’s identity through it. For public recreational spaces such as restaurants and cafes, interior design has helped to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. People frequent such places depending on the surroundings. The ambience part plays a big role in creating a brand and keeping customers coming back for more.
Thanks to the flexible customisation offered by interior designers, it is getting easier for companies to stand out according to their brand image. Whether they’re going for a classy, sophisticated look or a modern, pop and lively vibe, interior design and décor helps to create an individual space.
In today’s fast paced lifestyle, the amount of time spent at home and hence maintaining it has also declined, say professional interior designers. This is why interior designing is gaining much more popularity. The residential clients do not have to worry about setting up a new house. The interior designing companies provide an entire range of services for them. From designing furniture, kitchens and lighting to landscape décor and plumbing, interior designers cover it all to create a unique space. “We designers aren’t merely decorators. We mix creativity with comfort and function,” says Smriti Thapa Khatri, CEO of Designo.
Often, architecture and interior design are considered to be the same. But Panthee views these two factors differently. “Interior design is a part that comes in architecture but it is only a component of architecture. It is a sector of architecture that requires knowledge of design and creativity. Although they go hand in hand,” he explains.
Besides creativity and comfort, the Nepali market has another demand for interior designers that is significant in this part of the world- maintaining the Vastu Sastra or the traditional Hindu “science of architecture”. Vastu Sastra is incorporated in most of the designs according to the client’s demand. Hence many interior designers keep that in mind. “Many of my clients ask for designs that integrate Vastu Sastra. In fact, we feel that we need to hire a full time astrologer just to consult with our designs,” remarks Khatri.
Traditional interior décor is also a popular choice. Adding elements like terracotta bricks and bamboo furniture creates a décor that is a fusion of modern architecture while maintaining its roots grounded in traditional elements. Traditional décor also uses a lot more natural elements such as stones, bricks, wood and metal, hence the cost is slightly higher than for regular designs. “It doesn’t always have to be western style décor. Traditional elements can be incorporated that creates an iconic Nepali style décor. It also maintains our identity and culture. People look for change so this is a popular choice,” mentions Panthee.
But there is always a question of fulfilling the customer’s demand. “Often the clients want the exact designs that they find in the internet or catalogues, but this is something not quite possible to achieve,” says Khatri. Panthee of CAGE Consult also believes that the local customers still need to develop their sense of interior décor to understand what they want. “People often ask us to copy other designer’s works. They do not trust our designers to create something that will compliment their spaces,” he expresses.
Making people aware about the personalisation of space is a challenge. “When creativity is involved, there is no guarantee that everyone will like the designs. If a certain design is liked by 51 percent of people who visit the space, that is good enough,” says Panthee. But that is not the only challenge in this sector.
Interior design is a work that involves the skill sets of a lot of people such as carpenters, electricians and artists, and hence synergy is required. It is not just the designer who does everything. This is the reason why projects are delayed. Time is a major factor that needs to be considered. “Although we estimate and provide the clients with the time it would take to finish a project, it generally takes an additional couple of months to finish,” informs Khatri. Getting the work done on time despite delays in receiving supplies and hiring masons is currently a major challenge in this industry.
The market demand for interior design has mostly grown in the last decade. Although it is a growing trend, there are still only a limited number of interior design institutes in Nepal, which is reflected in the limited number of interior designers in the market. But despite all the challenges in the industry, market demand is high. “When I and my partner Megha Rimal Pokharel started this business about seven years ago, we would only get projects from family members and close relatives. But now, people come looking for our company,” says Khatri.
With the concept for smart cities in Nepal moving forward and plans to build apartments in such areas, the demand for interior design is likely to rise. Until that time, knowledgeable clients will keep finding new and exciting designs to try out. As the sector grows, so will the designers, which will eventually help to create unique brands in Nepal’s modern interior design and décor industry.