Monotony isn’t a part of In­dia Mah­davi’s de­sign vo­cab­u­lary. The Ira­nian-born, Paris-based de­signer shares how her itin­er­ant world­view has in­flu­enced her ex­u­ber­ant cel­e­bra­tion of colour and tex­ture

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In­dia Mah­davi has been her­alded as the new queen of colour—she’s known for us­ing colours in strik­ingly sen­sual ways, while craft­ing in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic spa­ces that are unique to their lo­ca­tions. As she puts it: “A colour is also a tex­ture—it de­pends on the en­vi­ron­ment, of where you are, of what you want to do with it.” Take Lon­don’s Gallery at Sketch restau­rant, one of her most iconic projects. Clad in tex­tures of pow­der pink on ev­ery­thing from the plush seats to the walls and ceil­ing, the restau­rant has since be­come an ex­em­plar of her dra­matic yet vis­ually co­he­sive aes­thetic. Af­ter work­ing as Chris­tian Li­ai­gre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor for seven years, the Paris-based de­signer (who trained in ar­chi­tec­ture) opened her own stu­dio in 1999. This was fol­lowed by an ac­com­pa­ny­ing show­room and a fur­ni­ture line in 2003. Since then, Mah­davi has trans­formed restau­rants, brasseries and re­tail stores into fan­tas­ti­cal realms. In recog­ni­tion of her body of work, she was also awarded France’s Of­ficier Or­dre des Arts et des Let­tres in 2015. Most re­cently, Mah­davi cre­ated the Tal­is­man ta­ble for Louis Vuit­ton, as part of the house’s travel-in­spired Ob­jets No­mades col­lec­tion—a fit­ting col­lab­o­ra­tion for the cos­mopoli­tan de­signer. She shares more about her peri­patetic up­bring­ing and how it has in­flu­enced her tech­ni­colour take on de­sign.

How has your global per­spec­tive shaped your col­lab­o­ra­tion with Louis Vuit­ton?

I would like to say that I am the ul­ti­mate no­mad. I have moved so many times from coun­try to coun­try; I grew up in the US, in Ger­many and in the south of France. I see the Louis Vuit­ton Ob­jets No­mades col­lec­tion in a big sense—it isn’t just about ob­jects that can travel. So the Tal­is­man ta­ble is a mul­ti­cul­tural ob­ject, and a hy­brid ob­ject that doesn’t have to have only one func­tion. It’s in­spired by ori­en­tal ta­bles, which ap­pear at tea and dis­ap­pear for the siesta. This ta­ble en­cour­ages you to en­joy your tea, to en­joy the siesta and to en­joy all those mo­ments that you can have.

Which coun­tries have in­flu­enced you the most in terms of your de­sign aes­thetic?

I think my at­trac­tion to colour comes from my child­hood in the US, in the mid-1960s. My early mem­o­ries are com­pletely in tech­ni­colour. I re­mem­ber wak­ing up to Bugs Bunny and Tex Avery car­toons on the colour tele­vi­sion, with ev­ery­thing in bright colours. The Amer­i­can de­sign from those days is linked to my happy mem­o­ries. I think that I’m also very struc­tured—that comes from my years in Ger­many. I had to start learn­ing Ger­man, which is a very struc­tured lan­guage. When I moved to France, it was French el­e­gance that in­spired me. Those are the coun­tries that in­flu­enced me vis­ually. And I should not for­get my Mid­dle East­ern back­ground, be­cause Egypt and Iran give me a sense of com­fort—it’s sooth­ing, and some­thing that’s very soft and sen­sual.

Among the dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects that you have de­signed, which are your favourite pieces?

I like tex­tiles very much, I like to work with bas­ket­work, as well as ce­ram­ics. Why should I have a favourite? You wouldn’t ask which fin­gers you pre­fer on your hands; no, you like all of them.

Could you share more about your up­com­ing projects?

There are many de­signs com­ing up. Apart from the Louis Vuit­ton project launched at Mi­lan De­sign Week and a rat­tan col­lec­tion called Henri, Henri, Henri, I’m do­ing a lot of res­i­den­tial work—homes in the south of France and in the US. I’ve just dec­o­rated the Ladurée bou­tiques in Geneva and in Los An­ge­les. I have other projects com­ing up, but I can’t re­ally speak about them yet, so you’ll just have to wait for a while. You know, it’s a sur­prise!


LEFT TO RIGHT The Ladurée bou­tique in Geneva; the pow­der pink in­te­ri­ors of the Gallery at Sketch in May­fair, Lon­don; Mah­davi’s trav­elin­spired Tal­is­man ta­ble for Louis Vuit­ton con­sists of an ac­cor­dion­like fold­able base, and a tray

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