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


Welcoming Baby J!

All photos by NiyaBas.com Photography
The little munchkin decided to come a few weeks before we were ready with his room, but lucky for us we were just a few minor "hiccups" away from completing his vibrant and stimulating nursery.  This project definitely had a couple of firsts for us:
1. Our 1st nursery decor and
2. Our 1st serious exploration with colours and patterns. I mean we've experiemented with colour and we've tried on pattern, but never had the two collide at maximum velocity before.  At least that's how it felt to us as Baby J's room began to take shape!

The inspiration for his room came from the idea of sports, but it is a far cry from sporty.  Taking the concept of "the net", we abstracted various diamond and square patterns to create an explosion of colour and an almost obnoxious experiment with pattern.
We were inspired by these beautiful quilts by Denise Schmidt Quilts. And its funny, our experiment definitely led us down an interesting path, moving from safe and neutral to zany and fun! Much like the order of the quilts on our inspiration board!
A few things we want to talk about with respect to this project that don't really get highlighted on our website. Firstly, the most beautiful feature of our client's home is its age (over 100 years) and the amazing woodwork that has been preserved.  However, with the exception of the fireplaces, we felt baby J's floor somehow got robbed of that artistry. In an effort to tie back to the rest of the house and add a bit more reference to our concept we added white mouldings to frame the custom wall hangings and to provide contrast.
Even the molding aids in the patterning.
For us, styling a kid's room who hasn't even reached 3 weeks old is a toughie. We didn't want to put "our" stamp on him, as we feel that's for the parents.  But if you've ever been a new parent, you know that with the first arrival your primary concern is the major items, breast feeding, and a good night's sleep. The seemingly small stuff is secondary.  So when it came time to shoot the room we realized we had to get a few of those "small" things to give it a personality. And apparently we hit that nail on the head.  Our vintage finds were a hit but our fave was this quirky hearth accessory.  In his unfinished state, we knew there was a fun character waiting to shine.  We brought him to life by removing his shovel and stoke, adding some paint and a tie, sitting him down and creating a real life stick figure.
(l) vintage blocks in a vintage miracle whip jar; (r) our real life stick figure is also a Yankees fan
Pattern and colour ended up everywhere balanced by strong furniture pieces that will transition with baby J as he gets older.  Overall, exercising restraint enabled us to breathe a sigh of relief with our end result:
Baby J's room
Find the rest of the nursery "here", but be sure to come back to the post and tell us what you think.

We strongly believe baby J will be more than stimulated in his new room.  And we are very happy that our youngest client ever allowed us to play with colour and pattern in a way that is beyond our comfort level.  We really dig the end result...do you?



The Birth of a Competitive Spirit

Inspired by India
Today I take inspiration from the beautiful country of India. But before I discuss the how and the why, let me reminisce for a minute...

It seems like only yesterday I was roaming the halls of FIT, wondering if all my hardwork during the semester would result in one of my projects gracing the display cabinets along the corridors of the interior design department.  A project displayed not only meant a great sense of accomplishment but that others beyond your classmates and professor would get to experience your laborious efforts of the semester.  And while that was never a real motivation for me to work my ass off on all my assignments, it was definitely the icing on the cake flavoured A or A+.  So yea, I did pretty well at school and got my fair share of display time, but nothing compares to the real world or even a real design competition, where not only money or credit is involved but actual implementation, production, and PRESS - the holy grail of most deisgners!

I recently came across the Project U Design competition created by BIOH® Polyols.  The competition, open to furniture design students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, allows students to enter their own upholstered chair design, keeping in mind it may eventually be manufactured using the company's BIOH® product. In my opinion, the competition is excellent for three reasons:
1) the winning design will be chosen by us, john public. A great example of crowdsourcing at work in the furniture industry.  I suggest you get your vote heard by visiting here)
2) the winner will receive $1,000 plus royalties from sales, as the winning chair will be put into production by Century Furniture. Woohoo! The student gets PAID!
3) the chair will have internal components that are ECO-friendly: the BIOH® polyols and the suede upholstery. The use of BIOH® polyols soy-based ingredient in the foam component replaces some of the typical "not so friendly" oil-based polyols components often used in foam.  According to BIOH® Polyols, the suede is manufactured using recycled materials in a process that both reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions substantially.  Now aint that special!?!
One of the entrants! Photo from www.experiencebioh.com
After careful scrutiny of the entrants' renderings, I would have to say the Alifair chair by Ryland Quillen featured above speaks to me the most.  It has a good sense of proportion and is substantial enough for a guy but with sensual lines that could appeal to a woman.  Which brings me back to where I started, India, and the inspiration piece for my vignette: the Janya pillow by Hammocks & High Tea:
Please be sure to check out all the gorgeous products by this in-demand design company: Hammocks & High Tea
The "Janya" print is inspired by henna artwork, an incredibly beautiful organic tattooing technique that's artistically and intricately applied to the hands and feet of brides during Indian wedding ceremonies:

With Hammock's & High Tea's simplified version in mind, I considered the following pieces beautiful compliments to the Alifair and my Indian inspired vignette theme.
1. Metal drum side table from Weylandtz 2. San Miguel Lantern from Serena & Lily 3. Toss up between lamb hair pillow from West Elm or sheep skin throw  4. Hammocks & High Tea Janya pillow and 5. the San Diego footstool, also from Weylandtz 
So go team Ryland! Let's get this baby into production so I can develop this vignette further and build a complete living space around this theme :)

To wrap up though, I want to jump back to competitions as incentive.  Considering the potential of winning a competition myself, I did contemplate staying on another 2 years beyond an Associate's to get a Bachelor's degree in interior design (in addition to the 50 million degrees I already have).  Of note, you are only eligible for the interior design competitions at FIT in your 3rd and 4th year.  In the end I decided that competitions were less important to me than getting my shingle hung, projects really implemented, and the euphoric satisfaction of design actualization and completion.  Three years later, that feeling of accomplishment has not diminished, it's still there at the end of each project.  The difference is that the feeling has become a bit more elusive as I now continually seek the "ultimate wow"...when that feeling of "I cannot top that!" floats in mind...the feeling I once felt in school at the end of each semester as I passed my project in the hallway.  I am my own competition.

anishka for idi


Why remember...

photo by NiyaBas.com photography

Hmmm, I was about to start off this post in typical Ishka Designs style when it hit me: should I be posting about design when I should instead be remembering that terrible day back in 2001?  Do we dwell on form or function on the anniversary of a day when I watched solid design, form and function collapse to the ground? Or as I remember how friends struggled to escape the insanity of downtown Manhattan, witnessing things one hopes never to see in their lifetime or hear things they hope to desperately unhear.
photo by NiyaBas.com photography
Funnily enough, I think the answer is yes.  To remember the past, no matter the circumstance, is but the only way to create a brighter future and within architecture and design, its taking the lessons of how designers before us have best utilized space and how we can build upon that foundation. Our history and experiences allow us to better focus our design efforts: redefining and efficiently maximizing space for a better tomorrow.
Photo by NiyaBas.com photography
So let me return to the original intent of this post.  The featured spaces on our post are unrelated to 9/11 and New York, but my appreciation for them have definitely been inspired by all my experiences in urban dwelling in NYC, including that day. I've lived in and around NYC for the past 10 years, during which time I have developed a pretty good knack for efficiently utilizing small spaces.  I'm sure most urban dwellers can seriously relate to this.  But every now and again I am blown away by architects who take on the challenge purposefully, with flair and consciousness.

First up: I came across the work of Japanese architect, Yuusuke Karasawa, in the July edition of Interior Design magazine.  He turned a 900sf cube of a house into a dynamic, visually tricky space, that in my opinion is nothing short of amazing.  He utilized algorithms, light, and I guess a bit of fun house magic, to create a livable jigsaw puzzle inside an ordinary unassuming looking box.  My thoughts: genius! Yours? Read more here.
the exterior
angles - view of living area
angled kitchen
beautiful thin tread staircase
serene bathroom
Project Photography by Sergio Pirrone for Interior Design Magazine
Our second feature was posted on the incredible eco-conscious design blog Inhabitat.  This odd slice of land in Islington, London got transformed by Amenity Space.  An intriguing urban infill project that is only made better by the eco-conscious decisions that went into its creation.  Decisions such as a solar passive design (read more here) , a living sedum roof (green roof, read more here), recycled materials, an air-source heat pump, and sheep's wool insulation. Read more here.
intriguing interruption in the street fa├žade
windows help with solar passive energy
efficiently beautiful kitchen/dining area
while not a fan of the bathroom colours I do appreciate the use of space
a slice of the neighbourhood.
Project images sourced from: www.inhabitat.com
I wonder what the neighbours think!?!

But back to remembering that day.  One of the lessons learned from our 9/11 experience is definitely one of appreciation and gratitude for what was once, what is now, and what will be.  Use your experiences to create beauty from nothing, find beauty in something, and definitely see beauty in everything. It's there.
Thanks to NiyaBas.com photography for "loaning" us these beautiful Brooklyn Bridge photos.


Landscape Project No. 2 - I just can't decide...

Kudos to NiyaBas.com Photography
Seriously.  We had to do a re-shoot cause this backyard space just kept getting better.  We decided to spray the large pickle barrel (the one with the smoke tree) a glossy black to complement the ceramic pots housing the eunomyous shrubs.  And we waited to get the rainbarrel in, though I am not sure you can see it on our website.  It's there though, trust me!  Finally, we decided to throw in a couple of pillows that were laying about and now we are ready.  Apologies for the delay in getting these AWESOME pictures to you since last we posted, but we think it was worth the wait.  I personally am so in love with so many of the shots, much having roughly the same perspective that I simply couldn't decide.  So when you visit the full project on our website and you feel it's a tad monotonous, my apologies, but seriously I just couldn't decide.  Here are a few teaser shots...
Now see the full project here: ishkadesigns.com!

So were we lying? Was it worth the wait? :)