Bright, mismatched colours. Fun, young, kitschy things. Fashion designer Nida Mahmood’s workplace looks a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Just like her own designs, nothing here is ordinary. Each piece is a story in itself. “I love to put disharmonious elements together. I love to match together things that people think do not fit,” says Nida. “The concept of minimalism, whether it’s in clothes or interiors, is alien to me. I don’t understand it.”
The curtains prove her point. In front of every window and door flutters something different – one is a sequinned fuchsia pink, another is a yellow-maroon tie-n-dye, there’s a mehndi and blue, a dull yellow printed curtain, and a lehriya. Like the cane sofa with printed purple upholstery and green leather pillows, everything screams for attention. But in a good way.
Nida’s office is where her ideas materialise. But the only sign that this is an office is the small computer table and cane chair in a corner and a notice board that carries a set of funny instructions for her employees and photographs of her brother and dogs. Otherwise, the room looks like a dress she has designed.Nida has covered one wall with newspapers. Against this, she has hung up samples of the clothes she’s designed. Their colours are beautifully offset by the black and white of the paper. "A wall should have a character, it can be much more than just a wall," she says. "All negative space can be utilised. Doing it up with newspapers was easy and also logical, because I draw inspiration from everyday things and people."
Since she spends more time at her office than at her home, Nida insists on being surrounded by everything she loves. So books on fashion and art are piled on the colourful rug on the floor, postcards she has taken a fancy to are stuck on the wall, and paintings she herself has created are also on the wall. “My office space is a creative cauldron out of which so many ideas come,” she says. “And I like being surrounded by things I have designed myself.”
So her glass is kept on a Nida Mahmood-designed coaster, there’s a bag she’s designed by her side, she’s sitting on a cushion she’s created, and writes in a notebook designed by herself. “Sometimes, I lounge on my Don chair, which was part of a collection I did a few years ago. For me, my office is the most creative space.”
Postcards painting: From Nida’s series on postcards. Every painting features a postcard on which Nida has painted a face that reflects the emotion the postcard conveys.
High on chai painting: From a series called “India Cool”. Nida loves to pick up ideas from Bollywood. High On Chai is a tribute to that.
Don and Gabbar chairs: Part of a collection she did a couple of years ago called The New Bioscope Co., the idea behind the Don and Gabbar chairs was to rehabilitate the people who used to paint Hindi film posters. “I managed to find only five in Delhi and got them to work with us,” says Nida. While revamping an old theatre, she picked up a few wooden seats and had the poster painters work on them. One chair is dedicated to Gabbar Singh, and the other features Amitabh Bachchan as Don. “I liked them so much, I brought one to the office,” says Nida.