Every month, ABC Of Design will have an exclusive conversation with your favorite interior designers and find out everything about their novelties, current design projects, and what’s next. Our first special guest is not a secret anymore! From sunny Los Angeles, California, the mind behind R/terior Studio accepted our invitation, and we had a lovely conversation with Rydhima Brar.
Rydhima Brar needs no introduction. The designer and founder/CEO of R/terior Studio has been making waves in the design industry since she decided to design her own condo and this process actually helped her discover the sophisticated design signature style that turned out to be approachable yet editorial and functional. R/terior Studio is a well-established interior design firm based in the United States with offices in Kuwait, specializing in bold, eclectic, and contemporary interiors. The renowned designer started her own personal project at the beginning of 2019, and her remarkable works have been featured in some of the most recognizable magazines such as Forbes & Wall Street Journal. Are you ready to get to know more about this Los Angeles based designer?
On Getting Her Start in Design
One of the first topics we discussed was her unique name. Sometimes, it can be hard to pronounce it correctly, but the designer soon gave us a quick tip to get her name right. Pronounce rhythm. Did you say it? Now you just need to add an ‘a’ at the end. Simple, isn’t it? The most important part is to see how she started playing different rhythms of design and was able to come up with a beautiful symphony full of harmony.
Rydhima is Indian, but she was born and raised in Kuwait. She moved to New York to attend university and her corporate career took her across the country to the west coast, to San Francisco – that she considers being a “big melting pot” of cultural influences -, the designer believes she already was gravitating towards the eclectic style. However, after getting married and starting a family, Rydhima and her husband decided to move once again, this time, to the sunny city of Los Angeles where she bought her own condo in 2015.
Jessica: Rydhima, you started your incredible career by designing your own condo and this interior design process helped you discover your beautiful and sophisticated design style which turned out to be approachable yet editorial and functional yet luxe. Can you tell us more about it?
Rydhima: Once we moved to LA, in 2015, and when we bought our first condo, due to the proximity of LA and Palm Springs, there was a lot of that post-modern mid-century inspiration. I felt that I really wanted to bring this mid-century inspiration to my own space. A lot of the pieces in my condo reflected that, from the details of the chairs to the colors that I used, they were inspired by the post-modern Palm Springs era. I added my own twist to that design by adding my own cultural elements. You can see those elements such as the Turkish rugs and the sculptures and statues from Kuwait, where I was born and raised. (…) I was able to find a really good balance in mixing both the ethnic traditional side with the mid-century modern aspect of it and really bring my place to life.
J: Travelling is a big source of inspiration. There’s actually no doubt about it. You were born and raised in Kuwait, and we can see how you manage to bring the world to your design projects. Do you think that your multicultural background aided you in this journey?
R: All the cultural elements themselves tell a unique story. It adds that uniqueness to every personal project and I tend to bring that when I talk with my clients. If they have something very specific, something that has been passed down from the family members or something that they remember, for example, a grandmother’s scarf, it is always really interesting to bring those elements and incorporate them. It tells the client’s story by itself. My design, as you know, is about telling stories and evoking a special emotion in the space. (…) These pieces actually turn out to be conversation starters. You walk around the space, and you say ‘this is how I came across this particular piece, and that particular piece was the source of inspiration.’ So, yes, traveling is a huge player when it comes to my design.
“Because of the way things have been for the past year due to the pandemic, it’s nice to be at home, in a place that you love and enjoy, but again, that evokes a particular emotion. When you are sitting in your living room, and for a minute you look up and around your space, and it gives you that sense of calm, that sense of comfort and safety, or even if it brings a smile because you looked at a piece of art you bought in a trip to Amalfi Coast, it brings back memories and happiness. It all goes down to the sentiment you want to feel in the space.”
J: Fortunately, you had the chance to grow up surrounded by great interior design and architecture, which motivated you to follow your creative passion for the design world. What are the top names in design and art that inspire you?
R: The number one name that inspires me is Kelly Wearstler. I aspire to be like her. Besides Kelly, India Mahdavi & Pierre Yovanovitch are my other design heroes. And then there is Olga Hanon. Her work is very colorful and very bright, again something that I tend to gravitate towards. Lastly, there is this Portuguese designer I have been following a lot lately, Nini Andrade Silva. Her hotels are so inspiring and so opulent that I hope that I’ll get the opportunity to design those types of projects in the future. They never seem to be afraid of incorporating too many statement pieces and make it all look so well curated.
On Why This Particular Color Can Define Her Unique Signature Style
Selecting the color schemes in a design project is probably one of the most important steps. Color plays a vitally important role in the way we live. Color can sway thinking, change moods, and cause strong reactions.
J: If you had to pick a color that would represent you and your unique design signature, which one would it be?
R: Green. I am saying dark, emerald, or hunter green. For some reason, lately, I have been gravitating towards that color a lot. On a cultural level, it has a very deep meaning, because it translates to prosperity, good luck, and abundance. I feel it is MY color and I try to incorporate it in my design, in some shape or form. It can be a big beautiful oversized lamp or wallpaper, even cabinetry if I can. It has been exciting to incorporate it in a lot of the projects that I’ve been working on and my clients have been very open to it.
“I feel that it is my color, and I try to incorporate that in my design, in some shape or form.”
J: Can we consider it a neutral color, because it blends so well with other color palettes that are not similar to this hue?
R: I would not necessarily call it a neutral, but it adds a really good pop without making it too strong. Certain clients are not big fans of colors, and it still works. If not color, I bring it into my designs in the shape of plants and foliage. The greenery warms up space instantly breathing life into space.
On Why She Chose To Focus on Sustainable Mid-Century Design Projects With A Contemporary Twist
“There is no Planet B” – This is a quote Rydhima shared on her social media account a few months ago. As a member of the Good Furniture Design Alliance, an organization that comprises the design and build professionals who are willing to innovate their businesses for the planet’s sake and to reduce waste. The designer has shown us multiple ways of being more sustainable such as incorporating antique pieces or re-upholstering existing furniture that add a different glow to her designers. Another way is to follow the upcoming eco-friendly brands. The designer shared that she came across an interesting design brand that creates children’s furniture from old toys, and that really inspired her because they are using creativity and transforming these items into pieces of art.
J: The world wouldn’t be the same without great role models. We need to inspire and be inspired. It can be a difficult task nowadays due to the pandemic crisis, but being a designer is always finding the best solution in a hard situation. You have been featured on Forbes as one of the top 10 best home school design projects with your lavender inspired room. How do you think interior design is changing?
R: Everybody is spending 99% of their time at home, right now. The majority of companies have informed their employees to work from home and many schools have been homeschooling as well. In many ways, the home has become this place where a lot is going on. Instead of being a place for relaxation, at the end of the day; our home has become a multi-purpose space. It is an office, it is a playroom, it is a place where you cook, where you relax, workout, everything is happening in the same space. From a design perspective, everybody has to get creative, including me! My husband and I have been working from home right now and I have a toddler who is running around, all in the same space (laughs). Now, more than ever, you can play with design and aesthetics. People are painting their walls because they realize how much impact color plays in their life when they’re sitting at the same desk every day. The colors, the comfort, and the emotion have become important.
J: The world is changing, and our house has to be prepared for the extra tasks: home school, home gym, home office – and the real question is – when will we be able to leave our home? Can design be considered a tool to aid people or bring consciousness to these problems?
R: (The emotion) literally changes room to room, now. In many cases, when I had some friends or clients’ calls, especially those for whom I did virtual design projects, is literally about ‘ We live in a small space, but how do we make this work for us?’ You need to create different zones in your house, and different rooms have different purposes. Your bedroom can be your office, so how can you change the living room, so it doesn’t have that feel? At last, when you walk into a different room of a house, you get a different feeling, and it changes your mood.
It’s time to Freshen Up The Mood and Play This or That with Rydhima!
✔️Mid-Century Style or ✔️Contemporary Design
✔️Classic Blue or ❌Lavender
❌Fabrics or ✔️Wallpapers
And probably, the most complicated one:
❌California or ✔️Kuwait
On What is Next For Rydhima
The designer shared that one of her biggest goals for the next 3 to 4 years is to work on hospitality projects and, if possible, create an exclusive furniture line in collaboration with Essential Home. Essential Home is a mid-century Portuguese design brand and one of the designer’s favorites!
Portugal is one of the first countries the designer wants to visit the moment the pandemic crisis allows.
Rydhima’s Exclusive Design Projects:
On Her Blog’s Feature: Cocktails & Interiors
J: Design is always changing, but design aficionados are always prepared for that! Your design company also has an incredible design blog, and one of the features is called Cocktails & Interiors. To end this lovely conversation and to make a proper toast to celebrate design, if the design was a cocktail, what ingredients would it have?
R: My personal favorite is a cocktail with whisky, that is why one of the first features of Cocktails & Interiors was a Lavender Old Fashioned. Whisky is the sour element, which is deep, has texture, and is bold, literally waking up your tastebuds, but I always love to balance that with something sweet or something that has an unexpected flavor like lavender. I approach my design similarly: there is a feminine element, there is a masculine element and it’s about marrying the two.