In conversation with Bollywood’s favourite couturier, Tarun Tahiliani

OCT 5, 2018 | By Nitija Shastri
AIS Glass Villa by Tarun Tahiliani/ Ahilia Homes. Tarun Tahiliani's Vasant Kunj plush address. Tarun Tahiliani.

As he forays into the interior design world with his newest venture – Ahilia Homes, we played 15 Questions with the doyen of Indian fashion, Tarun Tahiliani.In a fun rapid fire with ELLE DÉCOR India, Tarun unveils his mind – from his favourite design icons to his desire to work with actress-turned-interior designer Anouska Hempel and more…Your design philosophyMy design philosophy is to create a new voice of tradition focusing on ‘All that we were and more.’ I rediscovered myself through fashion and in my travel to meet the weavers and artisans to understand them on deeper terms. My philosophy is to combine Indian craftsmanship with principles of light, air, and technology to create wonderful homes that are to be lived in.

Exploring a design language with Ahilia Homes My first project with Ahilia Homes are the ones that we are currently working on. It is very gratifying to watch a concept turn into a finished product. I have also been working on interior projects on an informal basis, but the more we do the more we learn. Modern Indian design sensibility according to youIt is subjective – from Sameep Padoras modernism and utilitarianism, Adil Ahmed’s colorful exuberance – each a different take. For me, India is eclectic, at the crossroads of million mutinies. Take your pick and fashion it as you will.
If you had to bring one design icon to life I recently went to see the famous Christian Dior retrospective in Paris. It would be reminiscent to bring the iconic Christian Dior to life, because, in such a short period of time he created a strong identity and legacy that still holds relevance and inspires me till date. I am inspired by the work of architects and how they fold a fabric in a particular way, to name one – Geoffrey Bawa, but there are so many!
If you had to restore a heritage propertyWith the exclusion of the palaces in India, I feel a lot of the other really fine monumental buildings have remained defunct; the Red Fort for me is one of them. I am an advocate for serious restoration. I believe that these structures represent a fine synthesis of the country’s religious diversity that reflects in the architecture – they need to be salvaged. We need to preserve Indian aesthetics instead of only emulating the West.
Tell us how you would incorporate elements of India into your projects with Ahilia Homes
Being a proud Indian, what excites me is, to see how we could fuse our traditions with westernization. Not necessarily the correct thing, but that is how we have been brought up. I love the courtyard, I love the use of natural light and open windows – we use a lot of chiks, Indian stones, pained surfaces, textures, muslins, prints and patterns.

A design style that does not appeal to you.I have never been a big fan of pop and I am a little tired of Indian kitsch or otherwise. According to me, it is a bad design by looping a lot of elements together.

Pick anyone in the world to spend a day withI would love to spend a day with Pico Iyer. I have always envied the absolute calm, the endearing acceptance and surrender in all of his readings.
A go-to monochrome colour schemeShades of beige – the patina of dust.A design period you wish to be born inI loved the era of modern glamour –the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s. That period saw a loyalty to cardinal rules of fashion, it was still fun to be super-glamorous. Architecturally, this was a great time as there are so many possibilities.
An interior designer you would like to collaborate with Alberto Pinto, Ini Chatterjee, and Anouska Hempel are designers I would like to collaborate. Anouska Hempel’s style of layering redefines luxury and sensuality. In fact, her boat is one of the most sensual objects I have ever seen.
If you were to disappear for a month you would go to…A rural country for a spa break. One which is easily accessible to the wilderness, breathe some fresh country air, languid walks, eat organic, grab my favourite read in the midst of complete solitude. Three most iconic designs of all times according to youParliament of India, Falling Waters, The Prince of Wales Museum!
Design process when designing a homeMatch your aesthetic with your lifestyle and environmental responsibilities. Add and make mood boards and add and strip like the swell of tides. Live with the ideas and most importantly, balance form and function that speak to the senses. Your favorite materials to work withDon’t be fussed by opulence that is obvious – a fine terrazzo often means more than an exorbitant onyx. God lies in the details and the passion that created the finesse and perfection.