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This Mumbai home is designed to be a sensory overload

  • Interior Designs for Home
Sep 24, 2021
This section of the living room has wallpaper from Asian Paints Nilaya by Sabyasachi - Beautiful Homes

Parmesh Shahani derives his décor aesthetic from his love for fashion, textiles, Bollywood and above all, his queer identity

Parmesh Shahani has very specific adjectives that he uses to describe himself. He has much clarity about his preferences, and his epithets—“rasik”, “sensuous”, “queer”, “maximalist”, “exuberant”—are as if shining from every pore of his being lending him a neon glow that makes everything else in his vicinity appear staid. “Minimalism is a cop-out and makes me gag. I can’t imagine, why, when you can have five textiles layered on eachother would you want to pare it down to one? Only more is more!” he tells me.

At his home it is not just the furniture and art we need to discuss, it is also the thoughts and philosophies that led to those choices. And most importantly his queer identity which defines what fits, woven like a thread through everything he owns, from fashion and books to rugs and art. Parmesh heads D&I at Godrej Industries Ltd and is an award-winning author of two books Queeristan (winner of the CK Prahlad Business Book of the Year) and Gay Bombay. “The larger framework of queerness is a way of questioning the world. It’s not just about your sexuality; it’s about saying that the world can be different. It is about imagining various alternatives and possibilities. So, for example when I wear a kurta-pyjama and then add a bowtie and this leather harness on top of it right—in a sense I’m winking at a bunch of different things in the world through that,” says Parmesh.


Parmesh purchased his first home, a two-bedroom apartment in Vikhroli, Mumbai that he then designed himself. Read on the interview to get behind the inner workings of the man for whom his design choices need to come together like a big, wonderful Indian thali. Edited excerpts:

Parmesh Shahani in his modern house in Mumbai - Beautiful Homes

Parmesh Shahani derives his décor aesthetic from his love for fashion, textiles, Bollywood and above all, his queer identity.

Beautiful Homes: Did you have a clear idea of what your dream home will look like?

Parmesh: I’ve always had an idea. My aesthetic outlook has been very, very clear while growing up and it’s evolved more and more strongly. I think just the way I write as an author, the way I construct my clothes and my look, is exactly the way I did the apartment. They are in a sense my billboards for the world. 

Parmesh Shahani has a very interesting outlook on his aesthetic. He purchased his first home, a two-bedroom apartment in Vikhroli, Mumbai that he then designed himself. He gets his inspiration from his love for fashion, textile and Bollywood.

BH: How would you describe your taste in design and décor?

Parmesh: My décor choices are a leap from my fashion journey. For example, I will combine Ikat fabric with an African print in my outfit, wear those with a bow tie and a slouchy Kimono from Tokyo, along with a tote bag from Bhuj. It is about contemporary Indian-ness for me. I am proudly Indian and very, very invested in craft and tradition. But I’ve also had a range of very trippy experiences around the world whether it’s through travel, or study. So, how do I bring elements of those journeys together? There is also my queer identity, which is implicit in the way I dress and also in the way I make my home. And then in all of this is maximalism, which to me is about many things coming together but not clashing. It is about layering, about juxtaposition. How do you place one thing next to another so that the story of both of them is enhanced right? I like drama and heightened emotions. In my aesthetic I go to the edge of bad taste but I pull back.


BH: Take us through some of the details of the décor.

Parmesh: I was clear that I wanted an exuberant home; every room I enter I want to feel both relaxed as well as turned on. When Sabyasachi came out with his collections of wallpaper with Nilaya, Asian Paints I loved that for my walls. So, of course, I went overboard and now my living room for example has three different wallpapers. I love Indian textiles, so these are like textiles for the wall. I got my couch custom-made to my height from Tranceforme, while Latika Khosla from Freedom Tree printed 20 metres of the fabric for it just for me. My dining table has a mother-of-pearl inlay—I just love the level of craftsmanship available in our country that can be turned into contemporary designs. I have been collecting art for years and a lot of the art is contemporary, by artists who are around my age and speak of the India I have grown up in. I’ve surrounded this with found objects like a sculptural tree trunk that my partner and I got in Coonoor, and even some sculptures from Chor Bazaar. I also love Bollywood and the drama of it. I commissioned Rahmanbhai, who used to actually hand paint posters of movies, to make some for me. In the midst of all of this are pieces passed down to me that are deeply personal to me. It’s all a sensory overload that I love.


Dining room wallpaper is from Sabyasachi for Nilaya by Asian Paints - Beautiful Homes

The dining area has wallpaper from Sabyasachi for Nilaya by Asian Paints; painting by Aditi Singh; handpainted vintage poster by S Rahman, dining table by Viya Home, brass lamp from Ayush Kasliwal AKFD Jaipur; shola flowers from Baro; the red dining table chairs are Ghost chairs by Philippe Stark for Kartell.

Study desk has lamp from Roshan Contractor's chandelier collection - Beautiful Homes

Work from home has made the study an important part of Parmesh’s house. A part of his desk has a vintage glass table lamp from Roshan Contractor's chandelier collection, and the wallpaper is from Sabyasachi for Nilaya by Asian Paints.

BH: How has the pandemic and lockdown changed your relationship with your home?

Parmesh: When I did my house design, I was alone, but since then my partner moved in and that changed a lot for me. He doesn’t care about things and has made me also feel less precious about the home. Pre-pandemic our life was different, I was travelling a lot so we would essentially be using the bedroom a lot for sleeping. Our fabulously done living room was hardly being used. Post pandemic the guest room became a study, the sofas in the living room were re-arranged because we spend hours of our life now lying down flat and watching Netflix. So, we had to reconfigure the furniture in a way that was conducive to us just spending 8-9 hours in the living room; it’s no longer a show living room. The more you live in the house, the more you kind of re-configure it as per your needs and not what a magazine might think.


BH: Do you think your home is going to see some more changes?

Parmesh: I don’t think my home is complete at all. I hate the fact that I have white ceilings. Why do I have white ceilings? I want to paint clouds on all my ceilings. I just realised all my doors are so boring. They’re the same old wooden doors and I want to do stuff with the doors. I realised that there are still some corners in which we can squeeze in some more art. My space is a work in progress and also you evolve, learn more, see more and then you want to translate that as well. I think I am going to be adding layer upon layer of things. We will not remove anything, but what goes below will kind of fade away while another thing will come on top.

Room design has designer wallpaper, huge wall art & tea plant branch as home décor items - Beautiful Homes
Parmesh enjoys using found objects in his décor which includes this tea plant branch from Coonoor, arranged as a sculpture.
Parmesh Shahani's living room with wall paintings, art & sofa design from Lucknow - Beautiful Homes
The living room has paintings by Aditi Singh; Vidhya Soumya, Sudarshan Shetty, Mithu Sen, T Venkanna, Shreyas Karle, Deepak Tandon, photographs by Kalyan Varma and Anusha Yadav. There is also the original framed vintage Bollywood poster of Kagaz Ke Phool, one of Parmesh's favourite films, and a Kalamkari rug from a crafts bazaar. The sofa has a chikan cotton throw from Lal Behari Tandon, Lucknow.
This section of the living room has wallpaper from Asian Paints Nilaya by Sabyasachi - Beautiful Homes
This section of the living room has wallpaper from Asian Paints Nilaya by Sabyasachi; paintings by Aditi Singh; the handpainted divan is covered in Raw Mango by Sangay Garg gold Benarasi silk shawl with a Shift by Nimish Shah white cotton kantha applique blanket, and pillows from Pinakin Patel, Rasa, Idli by Thierry Journo, Nicobar, Rouka by Sreejith Jeevan, Rasa Jaipur and others. Sculptures on coffee table include pieces by the late Mahendra Pandya, Lekha Washington, Kallol Dutta, Sahej Rahal and Shaik Azgharali.
A section of drawing room has paintings & home décor items - Beautiful Homes
This section of the drawing room has a painting by Ankita Deshpande, rose quartz and malachite coffee tables by Vayu, black and white console by Moonriver, sculptures by Amit Agarwal (rainbow unicorn), Sameer Kulavoor and others.
Study room has wall painting, chair footstool & lamp as home décor items - Beautiful Homes
The study has paintings by Aradhana Seth (big) and Aditi Singh (small); the chair footstool and lamp have been passed down from Parmesh’s parents; recycled bamboo and plastic rug is from Vayu; copper side table from Tranceforme; Spartacus the cock is from the weekend flea market in Mumbai.
Parmesh's study desk has metal vase, hand painted wooden box & walls with Asian Paints Nilaya wallpaper - Beautiful Homes
Parmesh’s desk has a paperweight by Gucci, metal vase from Good Earth, handpainted wooden box and papier mache box both from Cottage Industries Emporium; the painting is by Aditi Singh on walls from Sabyasachi for Nilaya by Asian Paints.
Parallel modular kitchen design with brass lamp & window treatment - Beautiful Homes
The kitchen has art by Devdutt Pattanaik, Inder Salim, Jehangir Jani and others. Brass lamp from Tranceforme.
Coffee tables & lamp from Parmesh's parents make the bedroom decor  - Beautiful Homes
The bedroom has coffee tables and lamp passed down from his from parents, art by Reena Saini Kallat, Aniketa Deshpande, Sanjeev Mirajkar, Mehli Gobhai, Aditi Singh, Ekta Singha and the Plated Project.
Bedroom bedsheets & quilt have layered prints for bedroom décor - Beautiful Homes
Parmesh loves to layer prints even in his bedroom which has bedsheets from Soma Jaipur with pillow covers from Soma and Freedom Tree, the handmade Godhari quilt is by Geeta Khandelwal.

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