When 29-year-old businessman Rishabh Ruia was in the middle of redesigning his house four months ago, he knew he wanted an abstract brass sculpture for his terrace.
“I knew a sculptor in Mumbai, but his designs were all contemporary art,” says Ruia. “So I referred to Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and was able to sketch exactly what I wanted.”
A partition wall in Ruia’s home has also been inspired by an image he saw on Pinterest and, with his architect’s advice, he went ahead and had it installed.
Whether it’s a single interior décor element from images you’ve seen online or an architectural element off a website, social media websites and online resources are offering home-owners a go-to resource that offers curated tips and visual cues.
“The tendency to look for designs on different applications and refer a designer to them began with architecture and interior magazines, moved to websites of this nature and has now migrated to social media networks,” says interior designer Neelanjan Gupto. “It indicates a growing confidence among home owners, and a growing desire to personalise and put their own stamp on their space. People are becoming more vocal about their preferences.”
The added advantage of the crowd sourced platforms is that you can see how others have responded to an idea or a design, and get feedback of your own in real time.“Today’s buyers aren’t willing to blindly follow what a designer may recommend,” Gupto says.
Reshma Chhabria, an interior designer and founder of design firm HIIH, feels nearly 80% of clients refer to the internet to explain what they are looking for, up from about 50% five years ago. “Honestly, this helps the architect understand the client’s sense of style and sensibility much quicker,” Chhabria adds.
The range of websites and apps to refer to has grown as well — in addition to Pinterest and Instagram, there’s Houzz, Housie5, ColorSnap, Zillow Digs and Homestyler, to name a few.
However, experts caution against the overuse of random reference images.
“Technology can only take you so far,” says Chhabria. “If you’re not careful, you could end up with a pastiche of elements that looked good individually but do not thematically belong together. That’s why it’s important to consult your designer or architect though the selection and implementation process.”
Even relatively minor aspects such as size and colour shades can make a vital difference, adds Priya Lakhotia of Chicago Studio Interior Architects.
With the right consultations, though, the world can be your proverbial oyster. “Design practices around the world are now like one big team, with a constant exchange of ideas online,” says Rajiv Khushlani of Khushlani and Associates architects in Andheri.
In addition to offering inspiration, apps have made maintaining a mood board much easier.
“With the help of different apps or the internet, a customer can present all their ideas to a designer on one mood board, and the designer can add related images or inputs to the design,” says Gupto. “Everyone can literally be on the same page.”
With the average client being more well-read and well-travelled than even a decade ago, mood boards can ensure that the designer translates their unique tastes and character into the spaces they are designing.
From colours for the walls to furniture pieces, lighting, even carpet and curtain patterns or funky accessories, people now have specific ideas of what they want, Lakhotiya adds.
The downside of this kind of technology is that unrealistic designs can actually cause delays in the entire process.
“The internet can be misleading,” says Gupto. “There are sites that provide ‘3D views’ of structural and design elements and we have people believing these elements are doable — when they’re actually not. For the layman, it can be easy to get carried away by designs that may seem aesthetically desirable but may not be practical at all, or may not be practical for the specific home or space in question.”
Adaptability is key. Anuj Sorat, 25, a civil engineer and resident of Tardeo in Mumbai recently kitted out his ‘den’ with a projector, gaming consoles and a massive music system — with the interior layout inspired by Pinterest.
“More than 60% of the room was inspired by images I saw on the app,” he says. “I had discussions with my architect before I made any purchases, though, and we had to make some alterations to suit the specifics — such as power capability — of my house.”
It is important to understand your space well before even starting to look through the internet for inspiration, adds Chhabria. “When I say space I mean possibilities and limitations,” she adds. “If you never lose track of that, you will end up with design and comfort that work perfectly for you and your space.”