The timeless designs

By Adeela Akmal
Tue, 11, 18

In an exclusive interview, this week You! talks to Karachi-based interior designer, Sabiha Rita Hasan regarding her design philosophy...


In an exclusive interview, this week You! talks to Karachi-based interior designer, Sabiha Rita Hasan regarding her design philosophy...

Like any craft, a good interior design, besides the style, is determined by its cohesiveness and practicality. Sabiha Rita Hassan, a Karachi-based interior designer, is of the similar view. “When you live and breathe design, and keep imagining the world in your colours, a name has no value. What stands out is your product vision and good service,” she explains.

Known for her exquisite furniture pieces, Rita shares that she knew early on that she wanted to become an interior designer. “I attended Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Canada and also Indus Valley School of Design in Pakistan, to acquaint myself with the local design style. But, at age 15, standing in front of a small boutique style interior showroom at the prestigious Hazelton lanes area in downtown Toronto, mesmerised by all things beautiful, I just knew!” she narrates.

Sabiha Rita Hassan

With two decades of experience freelancing nationally and internationally, in 2010, she fully committed to her furniture boutique ‘Design 19’ in Karachi, co-owned with her architect husband. This week You! has a tete-a-tete with Sabiha Rita Hassan regarding her design philosophy and current interior trends...

You! How would you describe your style of design?

Sabiha Rita Hassan: I have an appreciation of the world of aesthetics and a firm conviction that beauty is objective. I build upon that conceptualisation and have my designs mirror that.

For designing a space, I take into account the desires of my clients, their needs, and their aesthetic concepts to materialise regardless of the budget. I feel beauty can be created on any budget if you have your fundamentals correct. My client’s personality, lifestyle and choices are always my inspirations.

You! What is your specialty when it comes to designing furniture?

SRH: I work with any material bestowed to this Earth by God: organic, non-synthetic and a green philosophy that I’d like to introduce in our industry. I create contemporary designs with sheer attention to detail which formulate my own realisation of aesthetics but with implementation of bygone eras ranging Renaissance to Art Deco.

You! How do you maintain a balance between functionality and design?

SRH: I firmly believe that art without a scientific process is too chaotic and lacks structure to create a more confident approach. I also believe in the formal study of design and beauty which pays respects to the pioneers of our field; rather than a purely introspective idea. By that study, I understand clearly how to strike that balance without any compromise.

You! What kind of furniture is trending these days?

SRH: Personally, I am not a trend follower, but I keep an eye in my field to stay updated. I am excited that we are heading towards more simpler and uncomplicated forms. More natural materials are being used verses synthetics, and clean lines and solids colours are in focus. I believe timeless designs are more sustainable and suit the psyche of our average client.

You! What sorts of colour schemes are being favoured by your clients?

SRH: Incorporating colour is something that still challenges my clients. We live in a concrete jungle and a very noisy one at that. Our homes and work spaces have to be tranquil, soothing and more importantly bring us joy. Controlled use of proper colour has a psychological factor on our minds which ‘off-white and gold’ simply cannot achieve alone. The understanding of colour and its more scientific use is my goal. I will be advocating touches of violet and lavender into my spaces this year as it soothes and refreshes. Look out for these shades in the coming seasons.

You! Are people in Pakistan open to trying quirky designs or do they like sticking to the classics?

SRH: The reactionary self-conscious nature of our nation (bar exceptions) generally has them stuck on classics oddly enough due to conventionalism.

You! Imagine your client asks you to design a room in a way that is visually pleasing but not practical. How would you react?

SRH: By laying out more practical factors and create the blueprint to implement their visually ambitious ideas. Simple.

You! What was your first ever project?

SRH: Designing photography studios for the ‘Hudson’s Bay Company’ all over Canada. My first official project in Pakistan was for ‘Labels’, where I introduced a children’s play area in the boutique so parents could purchase in peace.

You! What piece in your portfolio are you most proud of?

SRH: We were lucky enough to collaborate with architect Arif Hasan, who did a series of rest houses in the Thar region of Sindh. It encapsulated self-sustainability in the form of solar panels, water irrigations, and a food source. To this day, tourists regularly book and take interests within its culture.

You! What was the most challenging project that you ever did?

SRH: For a multinational cigarette company in Karachi, we were supposed to create a smoking lounge, but we chose not to go through with it. I do not promote areas in which smokers can thrive and the challenge was more internal and in its final phases, I backed out.

You! What is the downside of your job as a designer?

SRH: The downside is that being in a creative field you can essentially become lost in the process and detailed orientated creation. Its obsession can have you lose focus on other segments of your life.

You! What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a designer?

SRH: The continuum of learning, along with the subsequent challenges that may seem daunting at first but only help to evolve your own creative think-tank; and of course leading other younger inspirational minds to find their footing in a highly overlooked industry in Pakistan.

You! If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?

SRH: I would create institutes that supply the fundamental to advance tools for under privileged youth to harness their untapped creative talents.

You! What are your plans for the future?

SRH: To create an interior environment system that consistently changes by the year, by the season, by your choice, and even by your mood.

You! What advice do you have for young designers or architects?

SRH: You are in control of your future, be your own hero.  Interdependence always trumps  independence.