We thought it would be highly interesting to exchange thoughts with Shalini Misra as she is involved in both interior design and architecture. We were not disappointed. With her multi award-winning luxury interior design studio based in London, Shalini has become an expert in finish and detail. Luxurious and timeless, what strikes us the most with her design is that it never feels predictable.
What inspires you the most for bathroom designs?
Nature. Bathrooms are spaces that we experience privately. Nature provides a link to this intimate space of our being. After a long day amidst the urban landscape we often feel disconnected. Bathrooms should help us restore this connection: clean lines, natural stones, earthy-hued tiles, wooden pieces, scents and sounds can transform your bathroom into a sanctuary that welcomes you with a warm and calm embrace each time you cross its threshold.
What would you always advise a client to consider when designing a Bathroom?
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with tiles and materials. A choice of dainty ceramic tiles on one wall doesn’t oblige you to give up on a sizeable piece of statement marble spreading from the opposite corner.
Be more confident with darker and more dramatic types of wood. Mahogany and chestnut are no longer reserved to gentlemen’s clubs. In our South Audley Street project, for instance, we brought together black stained oak, timber and oak veneer mahogany to add panache to the space.
On a less glamorous front, always consider technical aspects of the space, including plumbing and drainage layouts. Wet room or concrete floors typically require special gradients – I can’t stress enough how much of the final effect depends on a skilled preparation of the existing flooring substrate.
How do you combine aesthetics and practicality when designing a bathroom?
Today, bathrooms are no longer viewed as merely functional spaces. They are powerful mood enhancers: whether you crave a trip to a Scandinavian day spa in the morning, or a glamorous escapade to a jazz bar in the evening, a well-designed bathroom should facilitate all your whimsical moods. Vanity units, sinks, storage shelves, partition walls and lighting should help you navigate intuitively around the world of your own creation.
Do you have a key feature or element which your bathroom designs would never be complete without?
I consider a bathroom complete when it speaks with its own distinctive voice. One that is harmonized with the voice of its owner and the rest of the house. Addition of a statement piece can facilitate this purpose. Think of an oversize stone sink, an antique shelf or a period chandelier – they can all serve as a personal signature.
Can you tell us about a particularly challenging Bathroom you worked on?
Small spaces shouldn’t limit your imagination but they are definitely challenging. Indeed, the smaller the bathroom, the more space you have for creative solutions. One of our projects presented a common challenge in bathroom designs: the space was uncomfortably narrow. A statement 360 degree bronze mirror wall opened up the space and created an optical illusion of expansion.
If you could own just one stand-out design piece in your bathroom, what would you choose?
A statement piece that doesn’t typically belong to a bathroom repertoire. I love playing with the unexpected: in our New York penthouse project six plaster hand sculptures resurface from the side wall thus providing an unusual system of hand towel holders.
You can even go a step further and add a full-size sculpture or a hanging installation. We were very lucky to have a chance to experiment with this concept in our recent project in Chelsea, where the basement spa room was pampered up with a striking selection of clients’ existing collection of abstract art.
Which of the project bathrooms are you the most proud of and why?
Working on an Art Deco-inspired bathroom in the South Audley Street apartment was a tremendously empowering experience. The design had to reflect the rich heritage of one of the most fashionable streets in the heart of Mayfair.
On the one hand, we have vibrancy and geometric precision – Bianco Carrara and Nero Marquina marble stripes intersect on the bathtub wall. On the other, suppleness and gentle curves – halo-lit vanity area, where emerald green glass lamps perch comfortably on the black stained oak shelf. Final feeling – Great Gatsby meets Gio Ponti.
What is your bathroom at home like?
At the moment under construction. We are giving our house a total makeover. Before heavy artillery stepped into my bathroom, it was a serene asylum with handcrafted porcelain tiles on the walls, warm Carrara marble on the floor and a statement Moroccan fish scale stainless steel partition door set in luminous graphite.
More importantly, it was and it will be spacious. There are mornings when it’s just you and a cup of coffee, but there are others when you wake up in a busy hive filled with sweet noises of your family. On those days, a big bathroom is a dream come true. You don’t get to choose where your family life will unfold, but you can make your bathroom spacious enough to accommodate anything that life brings you every morning.
Which new / up and coming designers do you currently have your eye on?
There are so many fantastic new names in the industry. I have just came back from Paris where I fell in love with a few designs at the Maison&Objet show. Dooqdetails definitely caught my eye –voluptuous silhouettes and seductive colours of their designs hypnotize with feminine sensuality.