One can hear water trickling somewhere hidden in the backdrop and smell the sweet and heady fragrances from candles and incense waft through the store’s warm confines, transporting one to a place that is sacred and sheltered — a place you would love to call home.
By creating a store that looks like a lived-in space with sofas and beds abound with pillows, soft toys and notebooks, fashion designer turned interior designer Zahra Saeed’s Lifestyle store, presents a slice of the modern life. A life cultivated with good taste and peppered with objects that have their own personality to add character to a dormant space. “I pick up all these things while I’m travelling,” reveals Saeed, pointing to an old map of London to prove how deeply she combs through quaint hidden stores that are usually off most people’s radar.
The store looks like an eclectic but chic garage sale, with highly sophisticated and stylised objects, where everything resonates a certain spirit. Be it the Buddha wall hanging, the oversized plush sofas, the aromatherapy zesty candles or something as basic as napkins that carry witty statements like ‘I’m not a nag, I’m a motivational speaker’, ‘Life’s too short, so let’s drink the good wine now’. There just isn’t any stationery available that literally talks the way these knick knacks do.
“We’ve now begun to get a select clientele that come just for these fun stationery items and regularly visit the store to pick up post-its and note pads with amusing sayings on them,” says Saeed.
The idea of Lifestyle is derived from ‘sampler stores’ that dot Europe and small towns in the US, operating almost like private home museums to reflect the taste and preferences of the owner.
However, apart from stocking lovely home decor items like fancy dishes, potpourri, mirrors and lamps, Saeed has also begun to create her own line of furniture. “Some people may not like my taste,” she admits. “But my idea of living room furniture is something that is soft and all embracing. I’m experimenting with furniture; let’s see where it goes since I’m still learning how to use heavy upholstery.”
It has been two months since the store has been functional and Saeed states that customers are especially interested in buying lamps, frames, candles and bookends. What she doesn’t understand, however, is why ‘people in Pakistan aren’t so big on bath accessories?’ “In the US, we change the look of our bathrooms every
Much akin to trends in fashion design, Saeed identifies that this season the colour magenta is very much in fashion as are lanterns and bird cages. The one thing that fascinates her in all her travelling is “how culturally, spaces are so different,” citing the example of how most people here want stiff furniture for their lounges when the whole purpose it to have something supremely comfortable to be ensconced in. With a myriad of creative options for gifts and home decor, Saeed inadvertently spells out that there remains no excuse for an ill-dressed home.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2011.
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