The very creative “sexy-chic, colorful, nomadic Lady” of the international interior design: India Mahdavi…
For her, bright hues express “joie de vivre” and her work always radiates a sense of fun and whimsy… a work that has also been described as “sexy chic”, but I think that she has only created her own identity.. curves, from languorous to hairpin, define the creative world of India Mahdavi, characterized by a relaxed chic and a sublime way with color. Mahdavi’s work is minimal yet playful, and characterized by a combination of humor, elegance, and sensuality..
Ms. India Mahdavi is an Iranian-born architect, designer and set designer -now Paris-based- raised by a Persian father and Egyptian-English mother, Mahdavi lived in Iran for the first year and a half of her life, then spent the rest of her childhood traveling with her parents, living in the U.S., Germany and France. This culturally diverse lifestyle is reflected in her inspired, eclectic designs, which range from homes, hotels, and commercial spaces to airplane interiors and furniture. She studied architecture at the “École des Beaux Arts” in Paris, where she earned her “Architect Diploma”. In 1989, she spent a year in New York, studying graphic design at the “School of Visual Arts”, furniture design at “Parsons” and industrial design at the “Cooper Union”. Then she returned to Paris and joined “Christian Liaigre’s Design Studio” for seven year as “Art Director”. Her solo career got off to a swift start soon after: In 1999 she founded her company “Imh Interiors” and in 2003 she opened also her own showroom in Paris becoming one of France’s leading female interior designers and the very following year, during the “Salon Maison & Objet”, she was elected “Designer of the Year” too.. a really bright career!!
and we can’t forget the cool “Café Germain” in Paris, a perfect expression of her colorful and imaginative style. Inside is a massive yellow sculpture by artist Xavier Veilhan, a really big statue of a woman which breaks through the ceiling and spans all three floors; the head, the torso, and the feet on different levels… gorgeous!
Mahdavi has opened also a boutique just a few steps from her showroom at 19, rue Las Cases in the 7th arrondissement, Paris, which she describes as “a mini bazaar but oriental in style”. Here, took place some pieces of jewelry, vases, lamps, rugs and “objects d’art”, that Mahdavi found in the famous Paris flea markets.
Her aesthetic is unmistakable… she likes lacquer and the challenge of putting improbable things together. She describes her look like a “max of mix” and it often brings together a savvy association of geometric, floral and animal prints.
We can also define her style as “nomadic”, a notion quite firmly rooted in her childhood. In fact, Ms. Mahdavi claims her interest in creating homes for others, comes from her lack of having a permanent one, as she was growing up. She has also published a book called “Home”, which lists her tips for creating a successful interior
and she is constantly adding to her furniture collection, which is distributed through both “Ralph Pucci” (U.S.) and her own showroom in Paris.. actually we can speak of a “non-collection”, because the designer never thought of projects things for a room as a whole. Instead, the pieces are simply creations devised for specific residential projects, that she’s decided to give a second life. Her all-time bestsellers, meanwhile, are a ceramic “stool-cum-table” available in various bold colors, known as the “Bishop” because of its resemblance to a chess piece,
and her lacquered-wood “Flower table”.
Ms. Mahdavi creates places one longs to be, for a moment or for a week. From the irresistible lightness of Miami’s “Townhouse Hotel” to the privileged nocturnal luxury of the New York nightclub “APT”, Mahdavi’s designs exude a sense of well being.
In one of her press clippings the designer mentioned – describing precisely her approach to the project for the “APT”- something about “sniffing the air” during her location research, like she had an enhanced relationship with the five senses. Certainly her work is very instinctive. For instance the “Townhouse Hotel” in South Beach, Miami has a strict relation with his environment. “Miami’s really sea, sex, and sun” and this is what the Hotel is about: the really strong light turn into strong colors: red, baby blue and beige… the whole idea was centered on the purpose to create the feeling of a easiness, a light-minded living approach to the city and the Hotel… a really simple and funny life.. and that’s for the sense of sight only.. but the sense of taste apparently affects also India Mahdavi’s work. Questioned about that, the designer explanation emphasize the relation between “taste” and “texture”. The inspiration originate from her travels as usual, particularly from the Thailand, during her collaboration with Christian Liaigre, where she traveled extensively. She was amazed by the typical mixing of tastes of the Thais, while using at the same time very different textures. The results was a unique bond between contrasting flavors that made possible an exquisite exaltation of every single taste.. the most sweet and the most sour.
That variety has always been the aim of the versatile designer, something she always try to achieve choosing habitually different materials. For instance, a lot of the wood at “Townhouse Hotel” is sanded pine that has been lacquered… searching for the contrast between the glossy finishing touch and the very rough texture underneath.
“You can have very good design and bad styling and it doesn’t work. I know that I have the ability to take a space without changing any of the furniture and make it look one hundred percent better just by switching things around”… this about Ms. Mahdavi style and her vision.. It’s the way everyone sees things… for her design and style aren’t synonymous nor conditioned one another, good design can have bad style and vice versa. The distinction grow out of the firm belief of the architect that “design” is something concerning the analytical mind, while “style” is something concerning the senses, our nature of human beings and our way to feel. In Miami, because of the restrained budget, everything is very basic. The furniture in the “Townhouse Hotel”, are almost not designed, simple volumes that have proportions… that’s style!
Ms. Mahdavi uses her imagination when designing, that’s clear now, her designs are elegant and fluid. She finds inspiration in film… with the storytelling abilities of a seasoned filmmaker -Mahdavi cites Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick and James Bond as her early influences- the artist has an uncanny ability to convey landscapes in her “Technicolor” objects and interior design not surprising for a designer who cites James Bond as a hero… and like 007, the objects and spaces she designs are sexy, chic, and a little bit mod.
Each work tells a story about its location and therefore the space takes on its own identity. For instance, the “Condesa DF Hotel” in Mexico City fuses the bohemian style with its historic surroundings, creating a playful environment for guests. The Hotel incorporates custom made furniture really allowing one to appreciate the original neoclassical French style of the building. The interiors of the Hotel rooms have a “retro style” through the material palette of moss green, chocolate and cream tones. Mahdavi has charmingly carried her fluid modernity style throughout the classic “Condesa DF Hotel”.
Explaining her way to work with customer, she talk of “mood board”, impressions or better sensations.. every project start in a set of images cut out of magazines, present postcards from a flea market, sometimes simple objects. For instance, for the “Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel” in Monaco, she presented photos took from George Hoyningen-Huene’s work and put them next to a drawing by Matisse and then next to an image of a Riva.. the goal? To present to the client the way undertaken, to present the reasons for this and to visualize the “mood” implicit in the project. For the “Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel” the aim was to recreate a revival of the 30′s: what’s better then the Riva timeless elegance, some images from the 30′s, very “beachy” portraits of bathers, graphic and elegant and Matisse to represents the feeling of the south of France at that time? It’s poetry, it’s the color, it’s the texture. So those three images sum up what Ms. Mahdavi was trying to do of the project.
So this globe-trotting designer spent her childhood in eleven different countries and her eclectic, colorful interiors reflect her myriad influences and inspirations. The diversity of her international projects which explore the fields of architecture and scenic design, interior design, furniture and objects it’s her signature. India Mahdavi’s creations are immediately recognizable by the subtle association of sensuality and elegance, a perfect balance between masculine and feminine… she retains a self-confident eclecticism in the choice of projects, whether it be on the geographical level or on that of objectives. All her creations reveal a perfect balance between functionality and sensuality, an earthy relationship to space, a blend of masculine structures and feminine curves… she has a really unique capacity to instill in every single creations, that so recognizable quality of timelessness and savoir-faire, that standard of perfection allied to the freedom to create places and things that are accessible, sensual and elegant… the sensibility of a self-confident woman and artist.