The job of an interior stylist is to customise a house, handpicking each item once the design plan is ready. People in India spend a lot of money on decorating their homes, but the concept of an expert picking out the upholstery, showpieces, curtains, wallpapers and other accessories is new. For this reason, most interior stylists work as part of interior decoration projects managed by huge designing companies. Surviving as a freelance stylist is next to impossible.
In this industry, everything boils down to commission. On everything purchased by an interior designer or stylist from their regular vendors, a discount is given to clients along with a 12-15 per cent commission for themselves. In huge firms, the commission goes directly into the company account. Smaller firms would have to share the commission with their stylist, so they prefer doing the styling themselves.
One of my first projects was a bungalow in Juhu that an architect from Surat was working on. The family clearly told me that they did not like the architect’s aesthetic sense. They had seen my work and wanted me to take charge of styling the house. I was to work in tandem with the architect. But on meeting him I realised he didn’t want to work with me but instead appoint me as site supervisor so that he could make use of my styling, satisfy his clients and keep me from the commissions.
To be a good interior stylist, good taste is not enough. Unlike styling in the fashion industry, where you just put things that look good together, there is too much detailing required in interior styling. The job of an interior designer and stylist often overlap. On one occasion, we wanted a frame with mother of pearl work engraved in wood for the bathroom and the stylist involved in that project was unaware that a layer of lacquer was required before the work was done since water and wood don’t go very well.
As told to Sharmeen Hakim Indorewala
(This person has been an interior stylist for the past one and a half years)