The first thing that strikes you about fashion designer Rina Dhaka is how fit she is. She talks fast, thinks quick, and even warns the photographer that she’s usually a lensman’s nightmare because she shifts between poses too quickly.
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After letting us in on her fitness secrets (a good metabolism, a voracious appetite, and 20 minutes of running on the treadmill three times a week), Dhaka gets down to telling us about her beautiful and classy home in Sainik Farms, New Delhi, where her family of four occupies three floors, spread across 10,000 sq. ft. “We shifted here close to two years ago, and though it was already built, what appealed to us (husband Ajay Sharma and her) were the clean, simple lines of the building. However, we had to tone down some of the modern gaudy touches, such as heavy-duty leather accents. We had to simplify the house,” she says. What she liked was the continuity of the flooring (“I like the feel of stone under my feet and wanted a break from wood”) and the white lights in the ceiling (“when a house has clean, straight lines, white light works”).
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The ground floor has an expansive sun-kissed lobby with a glass staircase, and large windows replacing walls for added sunlight. In her living room, largely done up in shades of the white family, Dhaka has assembled some eclectic pieces of furniture from Fendi and Minotti, and also some fabricated by her favourite craftsman, a man she fondly calls by his last name, Channi. What lends the home a distinctive touch are the lamps (from Klove, and Philippe Starck at Vis-à-Vis, New Delhi, to name a few) and the pieces of art, such as a Satish Gujral sketch.
The drawing room has three clear seating areas (“we needed entertaining space that was flowing”), and one end has four black and white photographs of Malaika Arora Khan modelling Dhaka’s clothes, shot by Prabuddha Dasgupta. “I didn’t want to use my work in a very overt way in the house, but since this is my line, for me these photographs are art. In fact I have photographs by Atul Kasbekar, Bharat Sikka, Tarun Khiwal, and I think our Indian photographers have immense talent… They are at par with the world.”
Dhaka says at one stage she spent most of what she earned in collecting old pieces such as shawls, artefacts and this was reflected in the decor in her previous homes. “I would also use whatever embroidery or fabric I was using for my clothes in my cushions, or get my printers to do block printing on the walls, and use my access to weavers, etc., but now I use my knowledge of sourcing and access suppliers directly if I need fabric or materials for my house.”
However, Dhaka feels that her home is not yet fully done. “When you hire a designer, you have a complete house with accessories and all. But when you do it yourself, you get part-look ready and you move right on in your life. That’s what’s happened; there’s so much left to do in my home…”
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