Sunita Kohli on effortless art and exquisite craftsmanship

Zoya, the exquisite diamond boutique from the House of Tata, presents ‘Finely Crafted Journeys’ — conversations with women achievers, whose creativity and commitment to their craft have created something distinctive.

This time Zoya met Ms. Sunita Kohli, President, K2 India, an acclaimed research-based interior designer and architectural restorer. She is the first interior designer to be conferred the prestigious Padma Shri Award. She was the former Chairperson of the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal and has in a career spanning almost fifty years, designed several hotels and public buildings, including the Parliament Building of Bhutan.

What inspired you to pursue your craft?

My formative years in a culturally rich city like Lucknow was unconsciously, the inspiration for me to pursue design. The city, its mahaul and my parents’ interest all contributed to it. As a child, I would go for many sales and auctions and would admire and study the beautiful furniture and artefacts that were showcased. From a very young age I was also introduced to immersive reading and Hindustani classical music, which I believe also opened up my mind to different things.

What does creativity mean to you?

I cannot really define what it is! We are surrounded by creativity. Creativity is not only something that emerges out of human imagination and inventiveness. Look at the creativity of a weaver bird, how it makes its nest, its home, it is very creatively done. That creative skill is part of its DNA.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

ALL projects that I have designed and have had the privilege to do so, have mainly been public buildings and hotels. Each has been different and placed in a totally different cultural milieu. I am known as a research based designer and the joy of each project is the research that has gone into it; looking at the country, its culture, its people, its art and its traditions. So each project has added to my learning curve and that I find exhilarating!

 Zoya and you:

My approach to design has always been very meticulous for it to appear effortless and contextual when completed. I believe that something significant, in form and function, emerges when creative design blends with master craftsmanship. This is also Zoya’s approach to its products, with their careful attention to the translation of inspiration...from history, art and culture...through exquisite craftsmanship into a beautiful and distinctive product.