Vasundhara Raje pens her thoughts about friend Adil Ahmad’s work and outlook on life as he celebrates 30 years in the field of interior design.
Vasundhara Raje has known Adil since his childhood, closely observing the evolution of his design and aesthetics over the years. They have collaborated on the interiors of her homes and offices. This makes her the best possible person to capture and write about his design and style in this milestone year of his design journey.
Nestled in a leafy street off one of New Delhi’s most affluent neighbourhoods – Jor Bagh – exists a small colony that was once a refugee dwelling named after a famous freedom fighter. It is off the beaten track and not easy to find. It consists of small houses, all laid out cheek by jowl, in rows facing each other separated by green spaces. It is not the most likely choice of dwelling for the well-heeled.
A road separates this small colony from one of New Delhi’s most expensive pieces of real estate – a study in contrast – on one side affluence and on the other, simple living. On either side, there are well-known nurseries full of the most beautiful plants and trees. The overall impression it leaves on the mind is one of peace and tranquillity.
One can hear the call of the man who cards cotton, the vegetable seller and even the one selling momos and chowmein as they make their rounds through the streets lined with tall trees providing shade and serenity. These are calls that are difficult to hear today in other modern colonies. Here there is little sound of traffic and plenty of bird song. The silence is restful.
Turning in from the main road you walk down the street and come to a nondescript gate in the wall, flanked by enormous marble planters with lush green palms. Between them there is a tall Ashoka tree. As you stand before the gate you can hear the tinkling of water. Step in and you see a waterfall splashing into a pool of goldfish – a veritable oasis in the midst of this concrete jungle. Placed on either sides of the waterfall are two imposing fu-dogs in marble, a Chinese way of keeping the evil eye at bay.
French doors separate the drawing room from the patio. As you step in, the colours of the room, like an old-fashioned kaleidoscope, create a unique sensory experience. When the sun comes in through the French doors the room lights up like a little jewel box.
Let me walk you through this unfettered fantasy world – a little living room with a brilliant red carpet and an oversized chandelier hugging a large silver bureau, on which rests two large Baccarat urns and rare Satsuma china elephants. On either side, the sitting spaces consist of ottoman-style divans flanked by gilt Louis Quinze chairs upholstered in red and black ikat. A mirrored coffee table separates the sofa from the chairs. The walls and the sofas are covered in a modern monochromatic toile by Idli of Jaipur. On the walls on either side hang European oils in gilt frames. Around the sofas, books and photographs of family and friends in interesting frames make the room cosy. Two doors lead out of this miniscule living space.
Profile Photos: Abhishek Khandelwal; Creative Direction: Amber Tikari; Interior Photos: Sarang Gupta
This is an excerpt from an interview from HELLO! India’s October 2023 issue. To read the full interview, check out the latest issue right here.