Vivacious, vibrant and bold, India Mahdavi is a Top Interior Designer no one can get enough of.
India Mahdavi’s studio on 3 Rue Las Cases in Paris is full of movement. The space, although a workplace, is immediately contrived according to her design ethos – her quick, thoughtful and passionate hands commanding the objects around her. Drawings on the wall reveal India’s talent for achieving harmony through bold, statement-making elements and vibrant colors. Smooth and polished contours, convex and curvilinear ornaments are pronounced through a confident accentuation of their inherent forms – India breathes life into the objects she creates.
It was India’s cosmopolitan upbringing as well as Iran-Egyptian heritage – her mother is Egyptian and her father was Iranian – that she believes inspired her love of color. She was born in Tehran and then raised in the US, Germany, and France. Her university studies led her to train at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts as well as New York’s School of Visual Arts and Parsons before she settled in the French capital to work as artistic director for Christian Liaigre. “I really think of myself like the French word metissage (meaning the cultural mix of society),” says India. “I am a pure product of the Middle East product –at least by blood – but I actually got to know my homeland much later.” To know where I belong very late in life made it more emotional for me. It was like ‘what did I miss out on’ and ‘how can I integrate these elements into my life today.’” After seven years with Liaigre, India founded her studio in 1999. In 2003, she opened her showroom at its current location on 3 Rue Las Cases, just minutes away from her studio.
Today India is one of the most revered names in design. Notable projects include Mourad Mazouz’s The Gallery at London’s Sketch complex where the entire restaurant is dressed in a pretty pink color. India recalls how the initial brief was for her to design the space and incorporate 239 black-and-white drawings by artist David Shrigley. She told the client that her plan was to bathe the walls, her signature curvaceous chairs and banquettes entirely in pink. He was astounded but trusted her in the end. To this day the restaurant is a sensational hit as well as an Instagram phenomenon. Then there’s the first REDValentino store in London for which India used bubblegum-pink and mustard-yellow velvet panels.
Recent work in Paris includes Café Français on the Place de la Bastille. One of the city’s premier establishments, the café was a once-traditional brasserie now boldly reimagined through an Art Deco-inspired space decked out in the French tricolor, replete with gilded walls, red leather banquettes and ceiling frescoes depicting a dreamy sky. There’s also the Café Germain, a theatrical albeit charming Parisian brasserie run by Thierry Costes who invited India to create the space. She, in turn, used a black and white tile floor and orange and green anise chairs to complement artist Xavier Veilhan’s giant yellow sculpture entitled Sophie that serves as the centerpiece for the venue.