Inside Uzma Shah's Eclectic Home
"We like to have a lot of fun when designing and where better to experiment than our own home!"
Hello! pays a visit to Uzma Shah’s stunning home in Karachi and chats about their family’s business venture, Dimensions, their eclectic style and more! Read on as we get up close and personal with the interior, furniture and design guru!
Tell us a little about yourself. Were you always inclined to start up Dimensions?
Well, where to start! Dimensions is a family business with a long history – I started painting from a very young age and while growing up, I used to spend a lot of time in my brother’s wood work factory. It was during this time that I developed an interest in design and how things were made. My passion for painting brought a natural love for colour and composition. I did my interior designing degree from Rhodec. Friends of mine would ask for my opinion when designing their homes. It wasn’t long before they were asking me to put together plans for them and I started working professionally shortly after that. My daughter started working with me after finishing her degrees at UPenn and the London School of Economics and then most recently my twin boys joined us after studying at Westminster University and Regents University in London. The company has grown quickly over the last few years – it has been challenging keeping up with the volume of work but we feel grateful that people trust us enough to involve us in the creation of their homes.
What do you believe are the dos and don’ts while doing up a house’s interior?
The two most important things we need to take into consideration when developing a scheme are that the finished interior will reflect the soul of the people who are going to live in it and that ultimately it will be practical for their purpose and lifestyle. Whilst we are more than happy (and actually enjoy) to be experimental and creative, developing some ‘out there’ ideas for interiors, if the format and style does not reflect the people who will live in the house or is impractical for their needs, we don’t think they will be happy in the long run. We believe that a room can be functional and creatively expressive at the same time. So I guess we would suggest ‘do’ think long and hard about how a room is going is to be used and put that at the centre of the design, and ‘don’t’ be too quick to copy the latest trend, as it may not be appropriate or practical in the long run
You have a beautiful house. What was the inspiration behind building your own home?
We like to have a lot of fun when designing and where better to experiment than our own home, which we use almost as a canvas to test our various ideas. We like to change the space often and try to make each room tell a different story whilst ultimately sitting together coherently: one room will have a very contemporary, European, feel whilst another will feel almost like an indoor jungle – we find the shift in moods exciting. Our inspirations come from everywhere – international travel, film, fashion and of course, the amazing culture and tradition all around us in Pakistan. We are influenced by a lot of different styles, both local and international and we try to constantly discover new approaches and influences to thread into our work. If we had to use one word to describe our style, I guess it would be ‘eclectic’.
What is your favourite aspect of your house’s design?
The utility aspect – I think we have managed to make the house both visually beautiful and exciting and at the same time have ensured that it serves its purpose as a family home. After all the planning, designing, research, manufacturing, sourcing and building that we put in, it is the most wonderful experience to finally be able to enjoy it. The house is very comfortable, versatile and reflects who we are as a family.
How do you juggle between your professional and personal demands?
We do work very hard – it’s a seven days a week job and we are constantly on the go moving between client meetings, our office, factory and showroom. Luckily, there are four of us to share the work load and we have a very good team around us, so things go smoothly (most of the time). Having said that, we all have our rituals and ways of disconnecting and relaxing and we make a conscious effort to take some time out, even when things are super busy - it is important to have time to oneself, otherwise we would burn out.
How do you unwind after a long day’s work?
Food! It’s a big thing for our family. We all love to eat and whenever we can, we get together for a good meal, either at home or in town.
What distinguishes the business model of dimensions from other competitors?
We pride ourselves for being able to blend multiple styles together and still execute a coherent and timeless end result. We follow all the best international designers and go to great lengths to experience their work first hand so that we are always current and moving with the times. We are particularly good at mixing the specific styles of different eras together, for instance by covering antique furniture with modern upholstery. As Dimensions is vertically integrated from design to installation, we can be as flexible and creative as our clients would like us to be whilst also keeping a very tight control on the quality of the end product. It’s a lot more work for us, but our clients appreciate it and ultimately we would not want to do things any other way.
Any new projects for the future?
We are very fortunate to be working on some exciting residential and commercial projects in Pakistan and we are working on a few international projects as well which is exciting for us.
Do you believe that there is a formula to success?
Work hard and love what you do.
How would you define your personal style?
A bit like our home – ‘eclectic’.
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