Get your home interior design budget estimate

Fantasy botanist Priyanka Shah on using nature as a medium for storytelling

  • Interviews
Dec 11, 2019
nature as a medium for storytelling

Priyanka Shah is a Mumbai-based art director, set designer and fantasy botanist. Some images on her Instagram handle @pri_ism look like portraits from the aftermath of Alice’s Wonderland tea-party. Pictures of plants at their Sunday best, rich and elegant, idiosyncratic, like characters in a fairy godmother’s vaudevillian play. In her visuals, botanicals have personalities, serving up sides of humour, joy and idiosyncrasies in a way that you’ll never find in a pretty floral setting.


Priyanka trained as a graphic designer at Rachana Sansad College in Mumbai and has a post-graduate degree from London College of Communication. After working as a graphic designer for seven years she ventured into art direction, set design and event design. Recently her work as a botanicals designer has taken off and garnered a lot of attention, thanks to her penchant for unusual combinations. In the last few months this young designer has been working non-stop on brand collaborations, celebrity Diwali parties and editorial work. For’s yearend celebration season, we invited Priyanka to style a Christmas setting and create joy and sensuousness from everyday things and objects, from pumpkins and lotus seeds to cotton balls. And she did it. Before we show you the images, learn about her style and how she began doing what she does. 


Portrait of stylist Priyanka Shah

Priyanka Shah's list of clients include names from retail, editorial, and of course, celebrities.

When and how did you get started?
I have always worked on branding projects, packaging design, websites, etc. Most of my work was on the computer, and eventually I got fed up. One day at work, while cleaning the table, I found a rose stem (without the rose) and a frangipani flower. I tied the two together and was joking around that I designed my own flower. This got me thinking that nature has always inspired man-made design, but what if it was the other way around? What if I could design nature instead? And I started a series called Fantasy Botanicals. It was an opportunity to express myself through different sculptures and materials. I started telling stories for brands using botanicals, and it took off. I now art direct and style shoots for brands, do visual merchandising for stores, installations and small events.


How do you categorise your style and designs?
I look at botanicals as a medium of storytelling. The outcome could be anything from a brand campaign to an event setup, embroidery on an outfit to designing functional objects, a frame on the wall to designing a cake. It is more about the approach and the process. As cliche as it sounds, nature is very very inspiring. It is under appreciated. My inspiration comes from the details inherent in nature: the patterns and shapes of leaves, the different ways seeds are packed in a pod, the texture and form of fruits and vegetables from the inside. They’re all so unique.


What is your process of going from idea to fruition?
I have always been very rigid with my process. I like to have a plan for everything and know the direction in which things are headed. But the botanical series taught me to take it as it comes. The process includes foraging botanical elements from all around—on my way to work, parks, travel, etc and then building something with it. I have no control on what I will find. It’s a new game every time I sit to design a plant/sculpture. These finds are then tweaked and treated, to take them out of their original context to unearth a new meaning; slowly building a world of my own fantasy. This applies to my commercial work as well. Depending on the brief given, we first gather basic ideas and elements. As humans, we're conditioned to make meaning of objects instantly. But through deconstruction and juxtaposition of these elements, we strip them off their learned meanings and play with the deep conditionings of our minds. It is all about questioning the existing and uncovering our own natural aesthetic sensibilities.

A lipstick placed among some red fruits and yellow flowers with 'fae' written on it

FAE beauty's vegan lipsticks got the botanicals treatment.

Some interesting projects that have come your way…
One of my favourite projects was for a magazine that wanted me to make my botanicals sculptures with a human in it. I really enjoyed how Jim Sarbh added his own character and eccentricity to the stuff I made. Le Mill, a multi-brand luxury fashion house based in Mumbai has been a really fun client that allows me to experiment with their shoots, visual merchandising and events. We recently designed an event to celebrate the work of a fashion designer called Halpern. We took inspiration from his over-the-top outfits and transformed the store to depict layers of indulgence and rebellion.


What do clients ask for?
I have been very lucky with the kind of clients my work has attracted. They have always given me plenty room to play around, experiment and break the rules. We put animals on the fashion week runway or designed a Christmas layout without red and green and shot lipsticks on fruits and vegetables.


How busy have you become?
This question is as real as it gets. I am blessed with the number of exciting opportunities that are coming my way. I hate saying no to 

Portraits of actor Jim Sarbh, styled using different fruits

Jimmy Sarbh and botanicals partnered in a shoot for fashion retailer, Pernia's Pop-up Shop.

A yellow flower with its bud surrounded by red berries hanging in the air

Priyanka's work from the Fantasy Botanicals series.

High end designer bags styled using jute strings

Work for the luxury fashion retailer, Le Mill in Mumbai.

Looking for expert guidance to design your

Leave your information and we will call you to book your preferred consultation slot

Please enter your Full Name
Please enter your Pincode
Please enter your Mobile Number
Please enter your Email ID

By proceeding, you are authorizing Asian Paints and its suggested contractors to get in touch with you through calls, sms, or e-mail.


Thank You!

We value your interest in Asian Paints - Beautiful Homes. We will get in touch with you to customise your package.

Tell us more and you may qualify for a

special appointment!

Get a special appointment
1/ 4

What’s the status of your home possession?

2/ 4

What’s the condition of your home/space?

prev Previous Question

Will you be living in your space during the renovation ?

, Previous Question
3/ 4

Is your interior design budget over 4 lakhs?

prev Previous Question
, Previous Question
4/ 4

Book next available appointment slots with our experts!

prev Previous Question

DEC 2023

27 FRI
31 MON

JAN 2024

01 WED
02 THU
03 FRI
05 MON
06 TUE
07 WED
08 THU

Please Select Date and Day

Previous Question

Something went wrong!

We were unable to receive your details. Please try submitting them again.
To reschedule or cancel, call toll-free
Submit again

Appointment Scheduled!

Thank you for giving an opportunity to Asian Paints Beautiful Homes Service! Our Customer Experience Specialist will get in touch with you soon.

Appointment Date & time

17 Oct 23, 03.00PM - 04.00PM

To reschedule or cancel, call toll-free

Thank You!

Our team will contact you for further details.

Similar Articles