Hi and welcome to the creative mind of Brooklyn-based interior design firm, Ishka Designs.
This blog allows you to peek behind the scenes of our design process; see the images, products, and events that inspire and motivate us. We are happily biased towards interior design topics with a sustainable undertone. With our international backgrounds, we definitely embrace a global perspective and influence. We hope you are inspired and sometimes provoked by our postings and we look forward to reading and responding to your comments!

One love, idi


Danke Germany! Part 3: More Berlin

Loved the palette of this café.
At the memorial, a section of a sculptural model of Berlin showing the dividing wall.
So I am guilty of being a shopping tourist.  Drop me in a city filled with beautiful boutiques, cute markets and cafés and I sort of lose my mind.  Sight-seeing what???  Well thanks to a niggling conscience buried deep down, I did get in a bit of that…quite possibly the most important site of all. You really can't go to Germany, let alone Berlin and not experience the sobering yet beautiful memorial dedicated to the dividing wall and what was once East vs. West Germany.  With mixed emotions, my travel buddies and I made it through the coldest day of our trip deep in thought and contemplation over one of the most recent and interesting historical moments of our time.

Furthermore, there was a lot of construction to "see".  Two cranes on most empty lots signaling the arrival of new residential complexes.  Again, another parallel to Brooklyn, however, I definitely liked the consistency of the modern architecture popping up over there.  Visually fitting into the cityscape, merging old with new in a seemingly flawless way.  I wonder what properties cost over there...
The minimalist outdoor displays highlighting moments related to the history of the wall.
What looks like metal pavers actually are markers indicating where underground tunnels existed.  
Loving these framed windows, a very modern take on the bay window.

Some of my favourite building materials: wood, exposed concrete and glass.
The museum in the back.
The reconciliation sculpture
A section of what's left of the inner wall
A restaurant inside a bus! Taking the food truck to the next level.
Corinthian-esque columns supporting the coffered ceiling of this tunnel.
 All in all, a great 10 days was spent in Germany.  Where have you travelled to lately?



Danke Germany! Part 2 Berlin

Le sigh.  What can I say?  Berlin is truly all of that plus a bag of chips. The style, the art, the people, the energy, the markets, the shopping, the ivy, the food...and ALL that.  It has the energy of Brooklyn but with an edge of progressiveness that is inspiring.  We stayed in Mitte and ventured into several other interesting sections of the city.  Unfortunately no one gave me a heads up about Kreuzberg prior to.  So just like Bahia in Brazil, I now have a great reason to go back.  Yep, I will cosign the "I would live there" petition being passed around by many of my artist friends.  And to think I had zero expectations of Germany.  Berlin, we shall meet again.

As if this wasn't enough, I'll post more inspiration images and our Berlin wall memorial experience in the next post.


P.S. - to my football fanatic friends, we happened to be there at the same time as the DFB finals between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.  Would've been great to have caught a match.  Alas.


Danke Germany! Part 1 Hansgrohe

Danke Germany...or should I say thanks Hansgrohe!  A couple of weeks ago I spent 10 days in Germany primarily for work purposes.  However, work was what it felt least like, as our trip turned into non-stop pleasure.  Thanks to the awesome team at Hansgrohe, I spent 5 days in the German country side and Black Forest, learning about amazing German efficiency and environmental consciousness through the eyes of the world famous plumbing brand, Hansgrohe.  Their products have always been exceptionally beautiful to us but unearthing the spirit of the brand and its visionary leaders, Hans and Klaus, have only underscored why we will continue to specify their products whenever we can.  What could've been days of tedious brand over exposure became a family affair of bonding with the awesome US team, the other invitees and truly seeing the human side of a brand.  Between castle tours, excessive gummy bear eating, shower world, a day trip to Strassbourg, France and zip lining through the Black Forest, we learned about the Grohe family's unrelenting commitment to innovation, their community in Schiltach and the conservation of their environment.  If only more manufacturers could do the same.  Thanks to Jen, Bill, Jade and Danielle for allowing me to experience the human side of this company.

Trip Highlights:

Zip line gang.  Trip mates minus 1
One of many castles in the German country side.

Just a small glimpse at the Black Forest
Picturesque town of Schiltach, home of Hansgrohe
One day shopping excursion to Strassbourg, France 

Berlin highlights in the next post.



African American Top 20 List... a 3rd Time!

Happy and humbled again to be included on Pink Eggshell's African American Top 20 List of Interior Designers for the 3rd year in a row.  We are beyond appreciative to Kimberly and her team at Pink Eggshell for continuing to value the work we do at Ishka Designs, to bestow us with this honor and to include us among the many giants in this relatively small community of interior designers of color.  As the importance of the list grows within the broad landscape of the interior design industry it is only right that the celebration that accompanies this event grows in tandem.  This year's celebration will be in Atlanta and will be a 3-day event starting with the celebration party on Thursday May 8th at the newly opened Negril restaurant.  See the line up on Pink Eggshell's blog here, and for the full list of the other amazingly talented designers, read here.  If you are in the Atlanta area, we would love for you to join the celebration, say hello and meet the other designers.  Looking forward!
Some of the members of the Top 20 at the 2012 celebration in NYC.  Source: African American Interior Designers Facebook page
Team IDI


Zen Oasis: A Brooklyn Backyard Transformed in time for Spring!

March 20th just passed and while we did indeed have a truly spring like day this past Saturday, the next few days will be right back to the 30's, cold and devoid of green.  That, however, will not stop us from willing Spring into permanent existence, allowing our lucky clients to enjoy the beautiful backyard we transformed for them awhile back.  From a pile of dirt with no hint of promise, we turned their lifeless backyard into a private escape, a zen oasis in the heart of Brooklyn.  
Spring where are you?  A peek at our client's newly transformed backyard featuring spotlights by Hinkley.  All after photos by: Niya Bascom Photography
The backyard underwent two transformations.  The first occurred when the entire brownstone was renovated by the architect, Robert A. King.  During that initial go around, the architect claimed square footage from the yard to extend the back of the owner occupied portion of the home, adding a deck off the parlor floor and two small bedrooms on the ground floor.  One exciting feature of this renovation was the addition of large sliding doors on the parlor level, which now allows amazing light to flow into the home.  For those of you who know brownstone living, getting daylight in can be wishful thinking.
Before any renovation of any kind, the back of the house looked like this.
Architect, Robert A. King, did major renovations to the brownstone including adding a deck to the back, sliding doors and a stair case to access the back from the parlor floor.
Before any renovation of any kind, the backyard looked like this
While the building saw major change, the yard still looked unwelcoming from the newly added deck.
The second transformation happened once we came on board.  We took an otherwise ordinary and bare backyard and created a lush oasis replete with a metal and wood pergola, outdoor lighting from Hinkley and flexible seating in the form of movable planters.  From a construction stand point, we added another drain to resolve ongoing flooding issues and built a deep cement pit underground to restrict the spread of the bamboo in the back.  We love, love, love this backyard transformation and have visions of sipping cocktails all summer with our clients surrounded by all its lush glory.

The Afters:
That view?  So welcoming now.  
Once we got our hands on the space, we immediately went for warmth, employing cedar for the privacy fence and adding pockets of greenery throughout.  
A key request of the clients was for us to include a private space within the backyard where they could relax together.  Our pergola design with a cement accent wall to break up the monotony does the trick.
Zen backyard design by Ishka Designs.
Do you love how we transformed our client's backyard?  Let us know in the comments below.  Want us to create your own backyard escape?  Call or email us!

Photo credits: Niya Bascom Photography (all after) and clients (the before's).



We are on Lonny Magazine's List of "Next Big Names"

We are popping bottles over here, thanks to the awesome Lonny Magazine for including us in their 2014 list of "Next Big Names" in interior design!  Honoured.  They labeled us "The Curators"...adding that to the bio :)  Happy to be among a great group of designers.  Please check out our feature "here" and show the magazine some love.

A recently completed dining room (photo credit: Niya Bascom).  Us (photo credit; Rayon Richards).


To Come in 2014

Blink.  It's almost the end of January.  Seriously?  Can we get a quick rewind please?  You know the kind that gives us back maybe a week or two.  Unbelievable.  Time is really flying...but I guess that happens when you are busy.  With new projects, ongoing projects, classes, events, meetings etc., its been quite a whirlwind at the officina.  Definitely a good thing!  No complaints.  No sir-eee.  As a matter of fact, the energy is high and positive and we are loving it.

With that in mind, we wanted to do a first and share a couple of looks from our latest projects.  These two projects commenced in the heart of December, when practically everything, except us, grounded to a halt for the holidays.  So while the first 3 weeks of January have been a blur, it's been par for the course since December.  Not a bad start to the new year we think!

A 3-bedroom apt transformation...more details to come.  Rendering and design property of Ishka Designs Inc.  All rights reserved.
An apartment facelift inspired by a Matisse...lots more details to come.  Rendering and design property of Ishka Designs Inc. All rights reserved
Backing up a bit, we completed and photographed one of our best projects to date last year.  Here's but a peek at the final outcome.  More to come.
The serene nursery.  Niya Bascom Photography
In addition to working on projects, we are taking time to work on Ishka Designs too.  We were one of a few firms chosen to be a part of the Tory Burch Foundation/Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, a 5.5 month entrepreneurial program focused on women-owned businesses.  An excellent but time consuming program that has given nothing but golden nuggets since we commenced classes back in October.  New insights and fresh perspectives are exactly what we need to get re-energized about IDI.

All told, 2013 definitely had its moments, challenges and successes.  Midway we dubbed it the "closed mouths don't get fed year" in addition to having adopted a "balls to the wall" attitude from the jump.  For 2014, we are seeking to add to the mantras...any you'd like to share?  What is your attitude for 2014?  This is the year for serious growth and we say bring it.  Ready for the ride?

One love,

P.S. - apparently there might be a slight undertone to this post, what with the specific title and mantra...purely unintended.