Preksha Baid

May 28, 2015 |


Preksha Baid

Preksha Baid is founder and director of Y-walls Design, a space design studio based in New Delhi. Founded in 2009, the studio came out of her passion and love for spaces, culture, tradition and craft. Baid incorporates new designs using interesting and exciting materials, and with techniques that may appear to be unconventional to many. That is also what sets her apart and makes her one of the most unique in the kind of work she does. Her work has been internationally published and exhibited at international shows like 100% Design and Milan Design Week. She was short-listed as the ‘Best Newcomer’ for the Hidden Art Awards, London, in 2006. She received the Elle Décor International Design Award in 2009 and the British Council’s ‘Young Creative Design Entrepreneur Award’ in 2010. She was also chosen as a design ambassador to attend the Dutch Design Week in 2010 on invitation by the Dutch government. In 2011, she was invited to work with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to create commissioned public art installations in Delhi. A visionary with an exuberant personality, she aims to provide design solutions to clients that are culturally relevant and commercially viable. Shristy Chhetri got in touch with Baid on behalf of SPACES Magazine. Excerpts from their email conversation:



Q.What made you so passionate about interior designing? Would you like to call yourself an interior decorator or would you prefer something else, given that the work you do is very precise and unique?

A.I studied commerce before enrolling in a design course. Accounting and taxation never excited me and I knew that my heart was in something else. The ability to transform an idea into a three-dimensional, real space really excited me. I love playing with materials, surfaces and patterns, which led me to explore the fi eld of interior design. It gives the opportunity to tell a story with every space.

As designers we are constantly exploring different boundaries so I don’t mind being called by any name. Sometimes the projects are more art oriented, sometimes they involve a lot of product detailing, and sometimes they are more specifi c to interior decoration. So we wear different hats all the time. Artist, interior designer, textile designer, anything is okay.


Q.What are some of your favourite tools or materials to use as you craft a space?

A.I have worked with a range of materials like textiles, wood, glass and metal to name some, and I feel every material has a mind of its own. I love using lighter and softer materials more. A lot of the time we develop new materials while exploring. Recently, I developed a new material from cornhusk. I was eating Bhutta (corn), which is sold by street vendors in India. Generally, the corn is eaten and the skin is thrown away. It’s a lot of waste generated in one day and I wondered if we could do something with it. With a lot of research and surface development, I fi gured a way to restore the material before it decomposes. We collected waste from vendors for three months and coloured the material with natural dyes like turmeric, beetroot and tea. The surface had great lustre and tactile texture and was light, like air. This material was used not only to make new visiting cards but also to develop lighting products for a project.

I love using textile techniques of printing, weaving, cutting and folding. I apply these in different contexts to my projects. I use such techniques based on what the concept demands, but I don’t fear taking risks and introducing new ways of approaching a material. For example, for my Jewel Peacock art installation project, I decided to handcraft stainless steel which is perceived to be a hard industrial material. It was challenging, but a great experience.

Q.What is your favourite piece of work that you have done so far and why?

A.My favourite is the ‘Ruby Ceiling’, the crafted Kalamkari ceiling at The Park Hotel, Hyderabad. I love it because it involved using a very ancient and traditional craft into a modern hotel space. The collaboration of a design-led client, passionate designer and skilled craftsmen made the project very unique and timeless. I had so much fun working in the workshop with the craftsmen. It was a great learning experience.

I love using textile techniques of printing, weaving, cutting and folding. I apply these in different contexts to my projects. I use such techniques based on what the concept demands, but I don’t fear taking risks and introducing new ways of approaching a material

Q.What was your aim behind founding Y-walls?

A.When I founded Y-walls, the aim was just to have a creative place to work every day, be happy and curious about things. Even today, the aim remains the same. When I drive to work every day, I feel like a kid going to school to learn, explore and share lunch, play and also be a bit mischievous sometimes.

Q.Can you explain to us this whole process of designing and completing a space, from meeting a client to delivering the work? What does it all entail, which is the most challenging, and which is the most exciting part? How long do you normally take to complete a project?

A.Every project has a different process depending on what the nature of the space is. For example, if it is a restaurant interior design project, it begins with understanding the type of cuisine the restaurant serves, whether it is fi ne dining, a casual all-day café or a fast food format. The space should have a narrative which is in line with the brand image. Typically, every project begins with research and context study followed by concept design and technical planning. Once the concept is frozen, the detailing of the drawings, material boards, colour and fi nishes board, furniture and fi ttings gets fi nalised. The last stage is execution on site with the contractors. I think site-execution is the most challenging part for me. It involves choosing the right contractors and making sure that good quality is achieved at every stage of execution on site. The most exciting is of course the concept designing stage because we get to play and have fun on the design board. My favourite part is to work in workshops with the craftsmen to develop the prototype during the research stage. Making things by hand and applying modern technology to design a space on computer excites me. Mixing craft and technology is the design approach for every project.

Q.Are you selective when it comes to your clientele or projects?

A.I am not selective about clientele. I have worked with government, co corporates, and international clients, as well as with individuals who own small offi ces. The project needs to be interesting so I am selective about the projects we undertake. Every client is different and it took a while for me to develop a mechanism to adapt and understand their needs. I spend a lot of time in understanding the brief and the client when we undertake a project.

Q.Do you experiment when it comes to designing? We see that there are many things you research upon. Can you tell us a bit more about what inspires you the most as you search for something new?

A.I always try to experiment and take risks when I am designing, otherwise it gets boring for me and I lose interest. Sometimes it gives amazing results and a lot of time it doesn’t. I get inspired from what I see on roads (for example the Cornhusk Project and the Diya Project for the Ministry of External Affairs, refer to are results of my experiences and interactions on roads. I also love going to social places like malls and parks. One gets to see amazing natural shapes in parks. I once found a nest and a beehive in a park which led me to develop a concept for a restaurant. So there are a lot of things from where I can get my inspiration, because of which I love to explore more every time.

Q.Can you tell us a bit about your work in the context of Nepal? Do you see a prospect for work here? Or have you done anything here?

A.I have a very deep connection with Nepal as I spent my entire childhood in Katmandu. Nepal has a rich cultural and traditional heritage that is so unique and beautiful. I love the simplicity of the people and the amazing food. I have not worked on a project in Nepal but in my recent visits to the country, I found lot of inspiration to use in my current projects.

The urban landscape has changed a lot in the last few years and I think it’s a great time to connect with tradition and blend it with the new to create beautiful contemporary spaces. This will give Nepal a unique modern identity while retaining its culture and values.

It would be great if architects and designers could bring together a new movement where traditional and sustainable materials might be used in modern design


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