Mixing Contemporary Design with a Hint of Spice by Krupali Laxmidas

 PC: Laura U Design Collective

The golden rule of thumb when accessorizing an outfit is to “remove a piece of jewelry you put on before you head out the door”, this loosely translates to adding subtly to an outfit without over accessories to get just the right impact from your look. Fashion and Design are strongly connected in this way – and personally, one of my favorite forms of interior design is incorporating traditional or cultural pieces into an otherwise contemporary home.

The question is, how do you do that without looking dated? Well,  “remove a piece”. Think of a blank canvas; find the style that speaks to you the most to create a foundation that you want to build off, much like an outfit, and then add your accessories. The entire palette of the space needs to be cohesive and neutral to allow you to add in the statement pieces in the design aspect without causing them to compete with each other.

Say you want to incorporate bandani patterns or the beautiful woodcarvings you see in South Asian architecture, but how do you do that without looking like an ashram at the end of the day or nani and nana’s house? Simple – take pieces that are traditional or have meaning and repurpose them! A sari can be turned into accent throw pillows on an otherwise neutral sofa, or turned into wall art if they’re attached to a canvas and placed along the wall. Wood pieces or doors with carvings can be turned into coffee tables, or stand-alone artwork placed on the mantel piece or even back-lit as a lighting element. If a room has been entirely designed with neutrals, your statement piece could very much be the bench that used to sit in your ancestral home in India, but now serves as a beautiful statement piece in your living room adorned with more traditional fabric throws.

PC: Great Big Canvas

With so many varieties of styles that come from say India or the Middle East and even European countries, it is also important to pick a region and stick to it. Although there are many similarities across borders, mixing a Middle Eastern look with an Indian look with a Chinese piece will make the space confusing and look unintentional and can be incredibly unsuccessful! 

If you are looking to avoid aging your space with too much heavy wood, look at recreating a piece to make it more contemporary. A white and gold sari can be used in place of a brightly colored one, or a wood carving could be repainted or made out of stone if you’re trying to maintain a more light wash look.  There are many ways to incorporate traditional styles, and I highly encourage playing around with them, because that’s what gives a design character and that extra feeling of thoughtfulness and intentional design. The important thing is to always take a second look, and see what looks like “too much”, and what can be removed to make sure that your pieces serve as artwork and accessories, rather than take over the entire space. 

Follow Krupali on Instagram for more fashion and design inspiration at @krupalibydesign.

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