In this edition of SR FRANKLY SPEAKING, SURFACES REPORTER (SR) spoke with ace luxury designer Sarah Sham. Sarah is also a WADE ASIA awardee who runs the Mumbai-based interior designer and founder of Essajees Atelier.
Returning home after studying Art History at Duke University in the US and Oxford University in England in 2009, Sarah Sham joined Essajees, her family business of antique dealers and art collectors which spans four generations. After learning the nuances of design from father and grandfather, Sarah realised that she was ready to turn her true passion for interiors into her career. To fulfill her desire of becoming an interior designer, she enrolled for a 2-year degree program at Rachna Sansad, Mumbai. After her course, she founded her own design business- Essajees Atelier, which is involved in the interior styling of both residential and commercial projects. It’s been 6 years she has been heading her own company in Mumbai that has an enviable portfolio, including GVK, Taj Hotels, Lower Parel, World One Towers, and the Reliance group.
Listen to Sarah talk about the perks and downsides of being from a design-oriented family business:
The Pros and Cons of Being From Design Oriented Family Business
While talking about the pros of being from design oriented family business, Sarah says, “some of the memories I have are all around art, design and furniture. I have memories of my grandfather showing me some amazing antique pieces and explaining to me what makes them beautiful and teaching me about scale, proportion, size...so these are the lessons that have never left me. My father is incredibly passionate about all these things as well. So, that's the kind that gets into your blood and system and it helps you develop a very deep love and understanding for certain things because it's a family business and you have grown up around it. So, that's a massive pro you really can't deny.”
Pointing out the cons of working in a family business, Sarah tells, “You have big shoes to fill. I always felt quite pressured because I have come to a fourth generation business running for 120 years. And I felt a lot of pressure and I felt overwhelmed by the entire enormity of the situation of having to have such big shoes to fill. So, the expectations are really large from other people as well and from your family because everyone has already achieved and done so much. So, it becomes very difficult and design is something that is very subjective.
There is no such hing as good design .It is what you think of as a good design but I may not see it as a good design. And when it is a family business those kinds of opinions become much more complicated. So, I think those are the pros and cons of working in a family business but it gives you an amazing set up and amazing confidence boost to start up. It's been an amazing journey so far.”
Sarah also shared with us how pandemic has treated the luxury design space and the true meaning of luxury in the new normal. Check out the video:
New Normal for Luxury Design by Sarah Sham
Sarah thinks that the luxury design space has not been impacted too harshly from COVID, Infact it has been some spike in requirements.. She sums up three Points that have become crucial for luxury lliving amidst the pandemi, “First of all, luxury means having an amazing holiday home. So, there is a lot of interest from a lot of people for their holiday homes and for their spaces from where they can escape from the city and they not be locked up in their homes.
I think the second thing the new normal means is integrating a lot of nature to your spaces, especially when you can't go out or when you can't be in a garden, you can't be in a park,you are stuck in your apartment. I think a lot of people want to feel that connection with nature and then you want to bring natural elements and plants into the space so that's very important.
I think a lot of people have already realised that in luxury spaces having a really amazing equipped homes offices is also important because if you are in a pandemic situation where we have been working from home for 6 months, having a dedicated room that is a fully home equipped office is going to be a very key element when it comes to designing luxury spaces. so nature, home office and having an amazing holiday home where you can escape to when you want to get out of the city.”
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