“I like my design world to constantly be in a state of flow, without pausing in the confines of any city,” says Farah Agarwal, the Chennai-based founder and chief designer of the interior design company, Chestnut Storeys. From sprawling villas to compact apartments as well as vibrant work zones, her signature dynamism runs through the spaces that she so evocatively designs.
Replete with natural light, vivid shades and soft pastels in textured contrasts, there is in every project an edgy vivacity knitted to a sense of contained calm. “My travel powers me immensely,” says Farah, “directly influencing my creativity when I engage in different cultures to take back home anecdotes to weave into my projects.”
According to Farah, nature is a rich ensemble of colours, textures, smells, variations and sensations that collectively play a part in her designs. “It has a very soothing and calming effect, making me feel happier and more optimistic. I bring the outside inside in many ways for nature to wield its positive effects on everyone,” she says.
Ushering in sunshine always visually opens up the spaces. Clever use of glass makes way for seamless views and engagement with the outside world. The strategic placement of mirrors also heightens the impact of available light and creates magic indoors, in addition to plants, wooden flooring, natural stones as ground work or wall cladding adding up to a natural, organic feel.
It is a pulsating mix of energies—from the modish yet breezy Beach House inspired by nautical elements to the 25-year-old Boat House, a treasured expanse of 7,000 sq ft in uptown Chennai that breathes global flavours, to the vibrant themes cupping the kidspace in PlaySchool. Farah describes her own sense of style as “classic yet edgy, soft yet dramatic. I feel my personal sense of style is eclectic, avant garde yet with a strong cosmopolitan stance. I possess the love for bold and challenging palettes built on the belief of quiet luxury.”
Clearly, the innately refined perspectives have led to the remarkable growth of Chestnut Storeys since its inception six years ago. Challenges abound, of course. “On the work front, it is a constant challenge dealing with the lack of discipline in our labourers. It is a learning for me in many ways,” confesses Farah. “As a mother, it is often a big toss-up, balancing time between work and my family. Often, work calls elongate into hours and spill into family time, travel schedules thicken and get a little crazy, and procuring details for multiple projects becomes a bit sapping. But as I always believe, there is a lesson to learn from everything and over the years I have learnt to divide and manage my time more efficiently,” she says.
Up next is international turf. “We bagged our first global project at the beginning of the year and have netted in a second project as well,” she says, building further on the pan-Indian presence of Chestnut Storeys. Clearly, the sky is the limit for Farah’s noveau designs and innovative concepts.