Let your home reflect your personality

Published: April 2, 2014
With European design ethos, the design house attempts to innovate and experiment in order to create organic designs. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

With European design ethos, the design house attempts to innovate and experiment in order to create organic designs. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


When it comes to designing your living space, it is imperative for your architect and interior decorator to understand you as a person. As clichéd as it may sound, your living space represents you and should be in sync with your particular lifestyle.

You will see generic houses or those designed by architects with signature styles that can be spotted from a mile away. Maybe, it is a good idea to not have a signature style when it comes to having a firm that designs spaces.

Architect Yousaf Shahbaz talks about creating a living
space of your choice

Yousaf Shahbaz of Strata talks to The Express Tribune about thinking outside the box and experimenting with various elements to create a space that represents your personality and style.

With European design ethos, the design house attempts to innovate and experiment in order to create organic designs. “We have an interactive approach with our clients,” says Yousaf Shahbaz, Creative Head at Strata. “It’s important for me to know what the clients like to do, how they spend their day, and understand their personalities to effectively create a space that suits them.”

Interestingly, Shahbaz shares how labelling spaces can influence our image of their utility. “By calling a room the ‘drawing room’, what you are really saying is that this is a wasted space that you will never use unless someone comes over for a formal gathering.”

What grab one’s attention at Strata are its unique installations. Its recent installation of the exploding chandelier at The Nishat has to be one of the most elaborate public installations in any hotel around Pakistan.

The cubic design of the installation captures what a crystal chandelier would look like if it exploded and got caught in the cubes.

“It took us three months to create it and since it was being developed as we were constructing it, there were changes made to it every day,” explains Shahbaz. “We don’t have a specific style as a design house. We have a [creative] process and through that, we create pieces that suit the taste of our clients.”

After studying Architecture at the National College of Arts, Shahbaz joined his mother, Saira Ahsan’s eponymous operation and started experimenting with different materials and techniques. He initiated Strata two years ago.

“Even though everything is manufactured in Pakistan, there are techniques that people aren’t acquainted with and for that reason, we cannot outsource and have to produce everything in house.”

The design house now has separate divisions of steel, glass, fibreglass, acrylic, ceramic, brass and other materials they need to experiment with.

“I learn something new with every project we take on because it’s always something we have not done before,” he shares. “It’s all about not limiting yourself either creatively or spatially. People always want to design the elevation of the house, but I feel that elevation should be a natural result of what is happening inside and should be an organic process. It is hard to explain this to people, but those who understand it, trust our work.”

In every industry, there are some trends people want to follow or create. When it comes to trends in the interior design industry, Shahbaz says, “There is no such thing as trends in this business. You have to live in a space and it should represent you. You cannot be expected to be comfortable in a space that is different from your personality that it feels alien to you.”

Many people try to change around elements in their living room and/or bedroom to give their home a fresh look. Shahbaz advises people to invest in artwork for an easy fix: “It’s always the easiest way to change around the way a room looks. You can add an accent piece that contrasts with the rest of the space to give it some character.”

He discourages people from adding print to the room. “You need to really love the print in order to use it for upholstering because chances are you will get sick of it very fast.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2014.

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