Accessories as pieces of furniture, colour as light and texture, India Mahdavi crafts spaces as cosy scenographies. Often referred to as the queen of colours, Mahdavi mixes her cross-cultural background to create a visually comfortable design that inspires and engage the senses.
“They aren’t looking for mainstream, They tend to be people who are looking ahead” Mahdavi explains about her clients.
Photo by Claire Israel
Born in Tehran of an Iranian father and a half-Egyptian, half-Scottish mother, India Mahdavi spent her childhood between Massachusetts, New York City, Heidelberg Germany, the South of France and Paris. She graduated in architecture (from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris), in industrial design (The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NYC), in graphic design (School of Visual Arts, NYC) and in furniture design (Parsons The New School for Design , New York), before becoming artistic director of the leading furniture Maison Christian Liaigre from 1990 to 1997.
Her studio, created in 1999 in Paris, is known for the diversity of its international projects exploring the fields of architecture and scenography, interior, furniture and object design. In 2012, she opened her shop “Petits Objets”, a place designed to promote a palette of craftsmanship and traditional techniques as well as her signature colour chart.
Photo by Pierpaolo Piccoli, RED Valentino boutique, London
Constantly moving between countries with her family following her father’s academic career, India Mahdavi diverse cultural background exposed her to a wide range of influences. The one she fondly recalls the most belongs to her childhood in the United States. The amusement of the bright colours of the 60s and the first TV shows in technicolour give her the first memory of colours.
“My childhood was very much under the sunshine in the South of France and in the United States. They were really sunny days. I realized I used colour to replace light” she shared in an interview with Atelier Doré.
Her visual universe shaped around her passion for movies, with a fascination for the pioneer of expressionism in cinema Fritz Lang and futuristic scenography of Ken Adams’s James Bond set. Her background in architecture was functional to develop the structure and skill set for her work as a designer of interiors working with a scale she was closer with.
Photo by Young-ah Kim, India Mahdavi in her Paris showroom
Colours and texture are stripped of their romantic nostalgia to convey meaning and intentions while creating enchanting scenography. With a style resembling the geometric perfection of Wes Anderson’s movies (or vice versa), her aesthetic has a lot in common with her cross-cultural background. The collection of carpets “Interior Garden” for the French heritage brand La Manufacture Cogolin is inspired by bohemian and Oriental culture. It exemplifies her ability in playing with her multicultural roots to create her signature style. A design that she likes to define as “pop-orientalism”, holds the rigorous structure from her architectural background, with the joyful visual impact of colours and texture:
“I use colour as light, I’ll use textures as colours also. That’s how I mix things together”.
Playing with light and space without losing a sense of comfort and cosiness, her design has become a reference for exclusive brands looking for a sophisticated and eclectic touch. Her iconic interiors and design objects can be found in renowned hotels such as Condesa DF in Mexico, on Rivington in New York, Monte Carlo Beach in Monaco, and the Townhouse in Miami. Her other accolades include showrooms such as RED Valentino, flagship store London and Rome, and amazing restaurants in Beverly Hills and Geneva for Ladurée, the French pastry brand renowned for their macarons.
A recipient of honorary French decoration as an officer of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in 2015, she has been repeatedly awarded for her work since her first international recognition as 2004 ‘Designer of the Year by Salon Maison & Objet.
Harmonising colours and texture with simple yet noble materials such as wood, lacquer and ceramic she collaborates with traditional manufacturers to produce what she likes to describe as “visually comfortable design” which “appeals to engage your senses”.