The Design Questionnaire with Shalini Misra

shalini misra luxurious dining room

In this edition of Love Happens’ Proust-style Design Questionnaire, join us for a peek inside the creative design mind of Shalini Misra founder of the eponymous interior and architectural design studio. Based in London, Shalini Misra specialises in luxury interiors for residential developments across the globe ranging from villas in Dubai to apartments in New York, and developments in London. In addition, the firm’s technical and creative range also incorporates prime residential homes and developments, high-end offices, boutique hotels, restaurants, and exhibition spaces.

Shalini Misra in her home in North London (Photo by Benedicte Drummond)
Shalini Misra in her home in North London (Photo by Benedicte Drummond)

Shalini Misra

Internationally celebrated interior architect, designer, and property developer, Shalini Misra has been creating spaces since she founded her multifaceted practice in 1996. Prior to establishing her namesake firm, Shalini set the foundation for her future. First with a degree in architecture from Delhi School of Architecture and Planning in India. Then through her studies in Urban Planning at the University of Columbia in New York. And further still with studies in Virtual Reality in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

Taking an eco-conscious and holistic approach, Shalini Misra studio is renowned for working closely with its loyal clients, incorporating their needs while creating characterful, functional, and timeless interiors. All while working seamlessly down to the smallest of details with their global network of exceptional industry partners. Curating, collecting, and creating art is a skill and it’s one that holds particular significance to Shalini. Thus art is at the heart of Shalini Misra designs, whether built into the space or as an added layer.

Shalini Misra interior Gilston Road Chelsea London
Shalini Misra interior Gilston Road Chelsea London

Read on for a peek inside the fabulous and inspiring mind of Shalini Misra, one of the Most Powerful Women in Design!


The Lh Design Questionnaire with Shalini Misra


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I’m lucky to be able to say that I spend my life in a happy state of mind, loving my work, my friends, and of course my family. So right now, my idea of perfection will be when we can have our friends and family around us—in a post-pandemic period when the world has got back on its feet… that will make me perfectly happy!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

As interior designers, we are service providers and we are just very lucky to be in the business of helping people visualise and deliver their dream homes for them. And that is just it—every time we achieve this—it is always celebrated as our latest, greatest achievement. However, if you will allow me to subtly re-engineer the question… I can tell you what has made me most proud, over the years, I think I can say from the heart that it’s the way that we always stick to our agency’s core principles when we take on a design project.

Farm House in India designed by Shalini Misra brick round set-in sofa seating area outdoor living room lounge new dheli
Farm House in India designed by Shalini Misra

These principles stem from having an architecture background. I studied architecture, urban planning, and virtual reality before becoming an interior designer and have carried so many of these principles forwards into interior design. So, our projects always start with a spatial appreciation—literally an assessment of the space and in particular how energy distributes itself in that space.

From here we can start to design with the concept of Wellness in mind. Creating a home that has areas of high energy for entertainment and lower energy for reflection. We plan around that energy and, whatever the final project looks like, we can be sure that it is a home that has been planned correctly from a well-being perspective and the people who live in it can live harmoniously. I think the consistency with which we deliver this, is what we are most proud of.

What profession does your alter ego have?

I think for the same sorts of reasons that I love design and working with people I could see myself doing a stint as a party planner. I love arranging events and planning all the details from cuisine, entertainment, staff, decorations, and gifts. There is nothing more rewarding than putting together and hosting a successful event that all your guests have thoroughly enjoyed.

The project you will never forget.

I loved working on a personal property development project in South Audley Street, Mayfair, London, which I developed in 2016. The 230-square-metre Victorian lateral corner apartment, with three-meter-high ceilings, has been turned into a high-concept decorative living space with designs, old and new. We worked with Nilufar Gallery in Milan and two art galleries Gio Marconi and Robilant + Voena. Names include Gio Ponti, Viggo Boesen, and Federico Munari Osanna from the last century; Visconti di Modrone, Massimilano Locatelli, and Lindsey Adelman from this, resulting in an “always lived there” feeling.

Your favorite business tool or resource.

iPad Pro—it’s so handy for drawing and sketching over plans whilst on site. The camera is great for recce walkthroughs or new potential projects and also great for giving an impromptu presentation.

The most timeless design.

I always think there are two aspects of design that have any natural sort of timelessness about them. These are when you design a project with the principles of sustainability at heart. And when you are lucky enough to be able to design a project around works of art.

On the first subject of sustainability, the timelessness comes about in a slightly different than perhaps expected way. It’s timelessness in a modern sense of the phrase—in that we are using sustainable materials that can be harvested or created in a way that sustains the environment on an ongoing basis—a strong element therefore of timelessness. When you think of using cork or bamboo, for example, which you know, if sourced correctly, can be obtained within the context of a virtuous cycle of growth and harvesting.

Shalini Misra in one of her artful interiors (Photos by Mel Yates)
Shalini Misra in one of her artful interiors (Photos by Mel Yates)

My second point revolves around the subject which is dear to my heart—placing and sourcing of art for projects. Something we are lucky enough to do on a regular basis for our clients. It is rare that the art we would place in a home would all come from the same artist or the same era and so an art collection will always give a home a sense of perspective and a sense of timelessness, especially, as is often the case with valuable collections. The interior design is planned around the art, rather than vice versa.

The biggest design faux pas.

Clients sometimes look to have everything and every room matching. We never design all furniture and decor in a single pattern or color. We encourage using contrasting tones to break up space.

Shalini Misra interior Gilston Road Chelsea London - photo by mel yates
Shalini Misra interior Gilston Road Chelsea London (Photo by Mel Yates)

Your design motto.

Good design has a responsibility to the world it inhabits.

If you were to design a room around one KOKET piece, which would it be, and why?

I love the vibrancy shape and contrast of the Barcelona Pouf. This would be a perfect accent piece to any playful chic interior.

pouf round stool with rouched pleated velvet and brass accent koket
Barcelona Pouf by KOKET

Love happens when…

You create, update and renovate!

Explore more beautiful work by Shalini Misra at shilianmisra.com.

Feature Image: Shalini Misra’s personal dining room in North London (Photo by Mel Yates)


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