'Being Human represents a concept.'
'We could have pushed the budget to any level we wanted, but we did not.'
'We wanted to design a place that was easily identifiable and relaxing.'
'When somebody comes in for help, you don't want to have onyx and marble flooring.'
Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon and Shilpa Shetty owe their stylish homes and offices to interior designer Saket Sethi who tells Rajul Hegde what his celebrity clients like in their apartments and work places.
How did you begin?
I always wanted to be an architect so I did a course in California.
When I returned to India in 2001, I wanted to experience more from life.
I got my portfolio done through a friend, and started modelling.
I did that for four years. It was pretty interesting and I got to travel a lot.
In 2004, my contract with the brand John Players was about to end and Hrithik Roshan was to become the next brand ambassador.
I was also getting movie offers. I was offered Zayed Khan's role in Main Hoon Na.
It was an interesting time for me, but I had to choose between modelling and designing.
Modelling was fun because it allowed me a parallel life, where I could travel.
But after seeing what fame was, I realised that I cannot lead a public life.
I'm not that kind of guy. I'd rather do sketches than go for a party.
Tell us about your work with celebrities.
We did not expect to have Bollywood clients.
Our first project was a campus for (industrialist) Kumar (Mangalam) Birla.
You can give me any apartment; scale or size or income does not matter.
All clients are the same to us.
Psychologically, design is very important.
What you wear makes you feel a certain way, but the kind of space you live in defines how happy you are.
How did you become a celebrity designer?
It was accidental. Our first project was for Shilpa Shetty.
We did a spa for her in Bandra (north-west Mumbai).
Raveena visited it and liked it, so she contacted us.
She wanted us to do the interiors of her four-storey building, which includes bedrooms, guest rooms, a terrace and office.
We hadn't done such interiors before, so it wasn't really our thing.
She is passionate and very aware of things.
We had given a makeover to (designer) Ashley Rebello's office, which was shown on NDTV's Whole New World.
Salman Khan saw the office and complemented us.
The next day, his sister Alvira came and said she wants us to do a project for Salman. That's how we designed his office.
What brief do the stars give you?
Shilpa asked me to make it earthy and accessible.
She likes drama and opulence, but when we were doing the spa, we wanted to make it accessible to people. So it was a balance.
Raveena has strong opinions and loves detail and classical work.
So we took what she loved and made it more contemporary.
Like, there is a dramatic king chair against a black, brick wall.
The drama is in sync with her personality.
There is a staircase which has a mixture of marble and wood. It is simple, but has warmth and detail.
The office space is very sedate. Raveena's husband Anil Thadani is a straightforward guy and the place reflects that.
There is a headboard with a planter -- which is like a vase where you can put flowers.
The little details make every project special.
In Salman's case, there was a mix of things.
Being Human represents a concept.
The idea was to have a very down-to-earth project.
We could have pushed the budget to any level we wanted, but we did not.
We wanted to design a place that was easily identifiable and relaxing.
When somebody comes in for help, you don't want to have onyx and marble flooring.
There's just a big billboard that says 'Being Human' under a 'sky' with 'natural light' (do look at the pictures above). It looks de-stressing.
I was quite impressed by Salman.
Once, we were at his farmhouse -- I think it was his birthday -- and his staff had lined up to give him a hug.
Each person would do a little dance and he would also dance, then they would hug and the next person would come.
Have you ever thought of designing the Bigg Boss house?
I would love to design that!
As a designer, I always wonder what have they done to the house!
The brief is probably to provide a jarring backdrop to make the interaction in the house more dramatic.
But every designer would look at that and say I can do more.
The reason Bigg Boss would be exciting is because it already has a format.
The way a space is designed can provoke you to be angry, loving or more of a character.