Luxury and affordability rarely see eye to eye. Choose one or the other. Just the other, most of us say. The former’s too rich for us. However, Rashi Tulshyan would say, “Why not both?”.
A design graduate from Parsons School of Design, New York, and founder of Home Philosophy, Rashi turns everything into gold with a bit of clever spending and zero compromise. So much so that homes she’s touched tend to look far more luxurious than their actual price tags would suggest. Either she’s a sorceress or she’s just really good at accenting the affordable with the luxurious.
We managed to corner Rashi to dig up the secrets to her interior design sorcery/expertise.
Every artist has their humble beginnings. What was yours? What got you into interior design? Who is or was your inspiration in interior design?
My design inspiration began with my mum, who is a property developer and has had a keen design eye for many years. She’s built some beautiful landed homes, and I got to accompany her from a young age to understand the ins and outs of this industry.
What exactly was your mom’s job?
She was really into developing GCBs and terrace houses – individual projects. She’d do a bit of everything; the development, the architecture, the design.
Photo credit : Home Philosophy
Was there any one development that stuck with you from all these “field trips”?
There wasn’t anything in particular. However, I got to see somebody master the whole process from envisioning the space to picking out the materials, maximising a living space to reorganising the walls. So, from a young age, I understood how making small changes could have a big impact. It might just be moving a window from here to there or changing the facing of the walls.
So by the time you went on to study ID, you already had real life experience?
Yeah. Since then, I was always passionate about design and studied Design Management at Parsons School of Design in New York. Here I learnt the vastness of the design world, and that inspiration can come from anything really- it’s all around us, everyday.
Design Management? What’s that about?
It basically focuses on how to run a business in the design field and the ins and outs of it. It could be anything design related; product, communication, or interior design. It helped me a lot.
But you also did a bit of interior design on the side?
Yeah, I did.
Next big question: Why New York?
New York is the hub of design.There’s a deep-rooted understanding and excitement about design in all senses, from fashion to interiors to product. There’s just so much energy there. I go there once a year for inspiration.
Photo credit : The Straits Times
What would you say was your first real foray into interior design?
My own home! My first home with my husband was really the “prototype” for my entire business. I wanted to test if indeed interiors can be done affordably without compromising the look and style. I also had the chance to create the high-low philosophy that we believe so strongly in and having my first home featured in The Straits Times was such a validation of my vision for Home Philosophy.
How much did you save?
Well, it’s not how much we save but how we applied the high-low philosophy to the design. For the look, most people assumed that we had spent about 25% more than what we actually did. We went for the overall expensive designer look without actually spending as much as people would guess.
You mentioned this high-low philosophy twice now. Tell me more about it.
Sure. The high-low philosophy is basically like how we mostly eat at hawker stalls but splurge on a really expensive restaurant once a month. It’s a mix of having an expensive and desirable life but doing it in a sustainable way. That means finding “low” or cost-effective alternatives. If you can find something in Ikea and repurpose it or find a great-looking way of using it, then why not? Better than spending tens of thousands on custom wardrobes.
Check out this video on 37 Nims designed by Rashi!
Every artist has their proudest work. What would you say yours is?
I’m truly proud of all my work, no matter the size of the project, if I am able to capture and create a home that my clients feel reflects them- there is no greater moment. I really enjoy the challenges of working on bigger homes, for example, the home at 37 Nims has five bedrooms and lots of outdoor spaces- I feel proud when I can create something unique in design that also feels warm and welcoming. I love this home because it also reflects closely the style that I love and feel is not captured too well– which is this modern aesthetic without it being “cold” and disconnected.
Photo credit : Home Philosophy
So what’s your personal style?
My clients always say I live life in colour and I design in colour. So I would say that it’s a warm modern home with lots of color. Lots of functionality. Lots of hidden bits and pieces that double up as something else.
Photo credit : Home Philosophy
What guides your work? What would you say your design philosophy is?
My work is guided by everyday things that inspire me- sometimes I am walking outdoors and see how certain colours layer on each other, or walking past shop houses and realise a pastel pink and blue work beautifully together! I believe there’s no one source of inspiration. My design philosophy is that each space should be unique, I don’t believe in cubby-holing any of my work in a single “style”-- style and aesthetic is fluid, and as designers if we don’t keep changing then there is no growth in our designs and work.
Do you have a workflow or ritual when you first get a job?
For us, the starting point is always to dig deep and dive into what our clients are thinking. Understanding their lifestyle and preferences. That shapes a lot of design. Homes are a reflection of their own personal space and personality. So we meet with them to chat and understand what makes them tick, spending time with our client- even grabbing a quick coffee gives us great insight into their lives. Do they gravitate to a certain place for vacations or like a certain food? These little cues tell us so much about our clients.
Any particular place for coffee?
(Laughs) Anywhere! Singapore’s great for coffee places.
What is one advice you’d like to give up and coming interior designers?
I always tell budding designers to find what makes them come alive, be it colour or texture, or a kind of home- when they work on design they must think about it 24/7. In our minds' eyes we must always be refining our design ideas and that can only come when we take time to look up from our phones (or Pinterest) and notice the world of design that surrounds us. My other advice is also to not copy- be inspired, sure! But don’t blatantly copy, always think of a design you love and find how to improve it, make it better, make it a reflection of you as a designer.
Posted on 31st Mar 2022
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