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When I first came across Krishnamithra’s hand drawn illustrations on her Instagram account @krishnamithra, it took me back to my days in design school. “Hand painted renders are so rare these days” she says and I agree, “It seems like we have lost touch with how we begin as designers and artists”. Growing up in Chennai, with an artistically inclined family, she was naturally drawn to art and indulged in sketching and illustration every now and then. However, she pursued different things before she took this up. After finishing her degree in business administration in Chennai, she realized she wanted to be in the design space. That’s when she went to Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology and majored in Interior and Furniture Design. Post which she worked with some of the top architecture firms in Chennai and then went on to join her family-owned design studio, ‘Form and Function’.
Krishnamithra has been an interior designer for most of her career, while romancing her love for art alongside. She describes her personal style as “surrealistic” or “whimsical” even, with a lot of fantasy based elements. "Art for me, is an extension of my true self and an outlet to channel my emotions, thoughts, ideas and issues in the healthiest way possible", she states. Recently, she decided to combine her skill and passion and came up with a new series, ‘Illustrated Interiors’ in which she uses her expertise in interior design and showcases her space styling through hand-rendered illustrations.
Q: How did you start with ‘Illustrated Interiors’?
A: I got married at the beginning of the Corona virus outbreak. It meant that I had to move houses during the lockdown. At that point the situation all over the world was pretty serious and I couldn’t purchase any new furniture. So we had to start off with pieces we already had or purchase online and wait. While thinking of my own space, I stumbled upon this idea. I could design and draw out spaces wherein I get to feature local brands. I noticed how bloggers promote various products by styling them in their own way. I thought why not do the same with interior products. It would be great to show my clients as well as on my blog and display my work.
Q: Why did you choose to draw, as opposed to use a software?
A: When you are using a software, it’s really difficult to make each piece of furniture exactly as it is. It’s quite a headache for me to do the whole process. I find it much more pleasant to draw it out. That way I understand each piece a lot better as compared to a modelling software. I also feel hand drawn spaces are very special because each piece has a little bit of the artist’s own touch.
Q: How do you categorise your work?
A: I would like to call my work a type of dreamscape - a space that has been imagined and drawn out. It could also work really well as a mood board, because unlike a 3D render, it brings out the essence of the space. Essentially I am trying to build an experience for the viewer, that’s how the concept started out.
Q: What is your process from idea to execution like?
A: I begin by curating the pieces that go best with the theme I have in mind. It takes me around a day to finalise this. After that I take a while to compose the sheet and decide what view works best. I make sure the whole space looks balanced, not too crowded or minimal. Then I detail it out a little more before proceeding to the painting bit. The whole process takes about three days to complete. Of course, a lot depends on the situation too. I sit long hours at a stretch to complete the painting. Luckily I quite like it, so it doesn’t stress me out much.
Q: Do you think your practical knowledge as a designer plays an important role while styling spaces?
A: I think anyone can curate products for a space, but it takes a designer to do it right. Not only do we know various brands and products well, but also have a better understanding of visualising spaces. A lot of people order things online and get the dimensions wrong. Which is why, even though clients pick products online, it is advisable to have a designer lay it out for you. Plus most designers have an early access to catalogues too.
Q: How do you plan on taking Illustrated Interiors forward?
A: My immediate plan is to work on spaces that are relevant to the current times. A lot of people are working from home and they are also working out from home. So probably a workout space within the house is next on my list along with a few more looks. After this, I plan on doing this on a commission basis or for my clients who specifically ask for it. I also plan on using this as a way to express a really interesting space whenever I get a chance. I feel most designers are really good artists. In fact, during the first year of design school, we are asked to hand render and sketch a lot. Somewhere along the way we lose touch with it. We end up using only softwares and it becomes very methodical. Every person has their unique way of drawing and I think it will be very interesting to see different styles. I would love to see that come up, and I hope Illustrated Interiors gives a start to that trend.
Inspired by her illustrated work, we asked her to design a series of rooms in an apartment. Take a look at them here
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