I had written on this topic some time back on this blog, an updated version of the post was published on Times of India Online . I am replicating the post here for the readers of this blog

The Pandemic of the BOXES – Why Interior Designers need to think beyond the box.

The boxes have taken over, where we live – BOX, our entertainment – BOX (think TV), our breakfast – BOX (think breakfast cereals, tetrapack milk), our lunch – BOX (think Swiggy), our travel – BOX (think Car), Our work space – BOX (think Cubicle), our gateway to the world – BOX (think cellphone). The other day I was asking a client her requirements for interior design and not surprisingly she said Kitchen (BOX), Wardrobes (BOX), TV Unit (BOX) and Foyer Unit (Another BOX). “So, do both you and your husband have a 9 to 6 job”? I ask. “& who cooks at home”? “What about the kids – how old are they”? Do your parents stay with you? no”? “How often do they visit and how long do they stay”? A little offended with the questioning she says “Why are you asking me this”? and I say “it’s not the box madam, I need to design your house based on your life. The boxes will come, but much later.” While we had a great discussion after that, what was clear was that the general impression of Interior Design too in minds of home makers is sadly – BOX

We had a different problem 10 years back, the Home Interiors industry was fragmented, unorganized and it was difficult to find someone to do the job professionally. A part of that problem today has been done away with angel funds churning the wheels of young startups in the field of modular furniture and furniture aggregators. The young ones have deep focus and hunger to capture the untapped potential in this so called “high margin” business and slogans of “we do it in 45 days” and “get a lower quote and we will match it” are not uncommon. But dig a little deeper and one finds that the hunt for hypergrowth and the desire to be acquired by the likes of an IKEA is driven by volume and unfortunately VOLUME again equals BOX – Modular boxes of standard size and shape that can be manufactured in bulk, driving economies of scale, order books, valuations and investor wealth. The appreciation of the lifestyle needs of the residing family and the accompanying design element beyond just the boxes still remains a far-fetched dream.

So What Now??

Now that that the “cat is out the bag” – you are left wondering what you as a home owner should be doing. I think it finally boils down to awareness. Once you are aware what you are missing and ask for it then the industry in the long run is bound to cater. The fact that customers are fine with factory made boxes & expect no more from their designers & service providers reflects the state of maturity of our industry and customer expectations and only time and awareness can change that. We use this tag line in our business – “when you work with a designer then expect more than just boxes & carpentry”. I do hope that appreciation grows and the industry is forced to truly deliver on the promise of good design – that of a good LIFE

Signing off


Nandita Manwani is among the leading women Interior Designers in Bangalore and is the founder of The Studio by Nandita Manwani