Firm/Studio Name :
NACL Studio (Natasha Aggarwal Creative living)
How did you come up with the name of your studio?
I’ve always wanted my name to be incorporated in my firm name but not in the most traditional way. It had to be a name that was intriguing, creative, and different. Exploring multiple additions to my initials I finalized on Natasha Aggarwal Creative Living a.k.a NACL, as creative living fit in so perfectly with the design ideology of the studio which was to create designs that were simple and versatile. Interestingly, these properties also define ‘salt’ which in scientific language stands for NaCl, making it an instant choice.
What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
Growing up I was surrounded by creative people which helped me build my inclination towards art and design. Honestly, I never aspired to become an interior designer. I was always inclined towards commercial arts. But I stumbled upon a small renovation project during my college days and that was the starting point to my career as an interior designer.
Designing an entire room felt like my hobby of creating things suddenly became a liveable reality and my creation will stay in existence for years to come. The process seemed like a life-size art & craft project that was exciting and satisfying. It opened up a new design avenue and interest in me, which I never knew existed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. As a result, I pursued it as a career. Coming from a business-oriented family and graduating in Business Management, I was somehow always attracted and diverted towards the creative side of a business. Interior design and the establishment of my own firm was the conjunction of the two.
What kind of projects were you doing when you first started as a designer?
After handling large-sized projects under industry stalwarts like Rajiv Saini & Pinakin Patel for 5 years and gaining some confidence and tremendous experience, I took the plunge to start my own practice in 2015.
I believe in taking baby steps and being slow and steady to achieve my ambitions. Hence, I never hesitated in taking up small projects like a bedroom or living room. In fact, these helped me in building my confidence as an independent designer and the ability to single-handedly take up projects without any fear.
My first project was a 6 x 15 ft bedroom space for a teenage girl which I think was the most fun to design & execute, as I feel I was creating a space that I always aspired to live in as a teenager myself. It was done in a span of 30 days.
What field of design are you most interested in?
Within interior design, I have developed a fondness for lighting design. Lights can change the mood of a space and can become a focal point in any room. We have tried our hands on some designs in a couple of our projects and the end result only strengthens this belief.
What is your favorite book/magazine on design? How about your favorite site?
I am not much of a reader, so you won’t really see too many books on my shelf. But I love traveling and I think that’s the best way for anyone to experience design and architecture by physically being part of it and creating a memory out of it which cannot be replaced by any book. Going to a place, experiencing the culture, the city, and its architecture is truly an incredible way to learn something new.
Fortunately, since I have started NACL in 2015, I have been introduced to varied projects that are absolutely different briefs from one another giving me the opportunity to follow diverse design approaches for each space. Therefore I can’t pick just one as yet. But I loved working on the Colour play home and a weekend home in Madh island. Both were some of my initial projects. Even though the projects came with their own limitations the clients offered complete creative freedom for me to design the space. The pressure to produce a space within an extremely tight budget is not every designer’s dream, but to be able to create a space and then manage to make it look worth more than what was put into it couldn’t be more fulfilling. The spaces have turned out just the way we promised the clients leaving them happy and most importantly encouraging us to do more challenging work.
What is your Signature Style?
At NACL, creative living is the focus. We craft spaces through various intricately designed elements coming together to harmoniously complement each other, instead of each piece demanding focus and attention. Our signature style would entail modern and minimalist spaces that are customized to every client’s needs. Reflective of the boutique firm’s ideology, patterns, and daily use materials all come together in unique textures to create bespoke spaces, by exploring materiality through parameters such as matt vs glossy, straight vs angular, metal vs wood, clear vs textured glass. At NACL, we believe that interior design is a reflection of one’s personal style. Hence, we create customized pieces to be incorporated into the spaces on-site such as light fittings, furniture pieces, etc.
What inspires you to thrive in this industry? Which piece of architecture inspires you the most.
The interior design industry in India has grown tremendously in the last few years which has taken this field from being just a luxury for a few people to a necessity for all. This shift has given new designers and small startups a lot of hope and motivation to pursue it. The variety and quality of work visible in the market only inspires me to do better and prove myself to outdo my previous project. Maybe that is also one of the reasons why I lean towards a bespoke approach to spaces, keeping each project different from the other, allowing me to create spaces that are unique to that particular client and their needs.
I am an admirer of Tadao Ando’s work always in awe of it. His work is a fine blend of modern, minimalistic yet being very subtle and blending into the surroundings without screaming for attention. His subtly is what stands out for me. His “Church of the Light” is an example of how simplicity in the use of materials, minimalist aesthetics, and a novel design can create a masterpiece.
From your point of view, is design an art or a science?
For me, it’s both and much more. It’s an art because it is the result of someone’s creativity and expression and it’s about creating something new. It is also a science, as the design is not merely making things look good. It is about providing functional and practical solutions without compromising on the overall aesthetics of a space. It has the potential to solve problems and ease lives on a daily basis and do it beautifully. Just like we imbibe art and life science, the design should be imbibed and enjoyed through all your senses, which means that it should not just be a visual treat but also have an experiential quality.
If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
A time travel machine to go back in time and observe and learn how architecture was designed, envisioned, and detailed. In today’s world finding such intricacy in design is so rare. I would definitely love to know the nuances behind it.
What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
Get practical experience, learn under designers before taking the leap to start one’s own practice, do not rush into it, most importantly know your technicals – great design does not mean beautifying walls and getting fancy furniture. Practical and durable solutions are what make design long-lasting.