From designing a nursery for film director and producer Karan Johar’s twins to designing the flagship store for Ralph Lauren in the national capital, Gauri Khan, founder and chief executive of Gauri Khan Designs, has established herself as a designer who can work across a wide range of projects with equal élan. That is why the 47-year-old, a National Institute of Fashion Technology alumna, makes her debut on the Fortune India Most Powerful Women list this year. The last year has been particularly busy: She designed a party room for Nita and Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia, opened her flagship store in Juhu, Mumbai, and designed interiors for the ‘one night only’ party in Mumbai by London-based nightclub Cirque le Soir. In an interview with Fortune India, she talks about her work style and plans. Edited excerpts:
You work across an array of projects. How do you manage expectations?
My design style is focussed on comfort and my speciality is mixing colours. As a designer, it is easy for me to understand what each assignment stands for. It is not just a job. For example, designing a nursery comes naturally to me. I have raised my three children. Apart from designing a place which looks beautiful, I think for a nursery, the most important aspect would be the comfort factor; you have to keep a lot of factors in mind for a baby who is coming into the world.
The designing has to be very calm and soothing.With experience, you tend to understand people’s minds better. As you travel more, experiences in life equip you to design multiple spaces for people from different backgrounds and age groups. I have gathered that experience through my travels, of being a mother, a student, and a designer now. These experiences give me the comfort and confidence to design for different spaces.
What has been your best decision so far as a designer?
Opening the Gauri Khan Designs store was one of my best decisions. I started with a 500 sq. ft. store in 2011, and then went up to 2,000 sq. ft. I wanted to see where the business goes, how it grows, and what kind of opportunities I have.
And I think we have done well. Over the past seven years, business has been growing more than 30% year-on-year and that is when we decided to open a bigger space in Juhu.