One of the most rewarding aspects of creating JODI, has been building a creative community. We came across the work of Sarah Sham via her love for our pieces! And have been crushing on her ever since! Instantly drawn to her stories on Instagram where she shares her design and work journey, what also resonated with us was how openly she spoke about her personal stories and struggles. We spent a lovely afternoon in her charming Mumbai home talking about all things work and play, dressed in new season JODI.
Sarah wears the Palm dress.
How did you get into interior design, tell us where it all started?
Being an interior designer was definitely not planned! Honestly, I always thought of doing something in economics, finance or psychology. Interior designing happened to me by chance. I was in my 20’s working with my father at Essajees (a century old, highly-acclaimed family-led company that deals in antiques and high-end bespoke furniture and antiques) when one of his clients was looking for some decorative lights. I went into that meeting thinking I was going to sell the homeowner a few lights and instead she sold me an idea.She liked my suggestions so much that she suggested I do up her home! I had zero experience as an interior designer. Of course, I told her that she was nuts for suggesting this. But she was quite insistent. So I agreed and at the age of 26, I went back to design school at Rachna Sansad and did a two-year course in interior design, all while designing her home. It was a crazy learning curve for me. in 2014, I started Essajees Atelier.
How would you describe your design aesthetic/philosophy? Do you have a signature style?
My design language is fresh, vibrant, functional and youthful. I don’t like repeating any design element. However, there is one thing that you will always find at an Essajees Atelier project, and that is, plants and lots of plants! We love adding greenery to make spaces feel warm and lively.
Sarah wears the Zeenat choker.
What do you love about being a designer? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love that my life isn’t a 9 to 5 desk job and I get to meet and interact with so many people. I get to learn new things on the job and that makes me really happy! I also love that I have all the creative freedom with regards to my work. I draw inspiration from my travels, people that I meet and most importantly, art.
What was the major turning point in your career thus far?
During the pandemic, I started my social media journey all single-handedly, to offer an online community for interior designers from across the country. In under a year, this effort has seen multiple groups come to life across India, connecting hundreds of design professionals looking for advice, resources or sometimes just a listening ear.
Also, it has helped get more visibility to our work and opened doors for new business.
Sarah wears the Recheado dress.
Which artist or designer has been the most formative for you as a designer?
If I had to choose one it would be Pinakin. He set the path for all of us in the interiors industry and defined what an Indian contemporary aesthetic is.
What colours, textures and furniture pieces do you love the most?
I love pieces where I can see the natural grain. For example, a wood sheet where you can see actual teakwood grain or a sheet with a nice open grain rough texture.
In your view, what distinguishes great design from good design?
The deciding factors would always be functionality and longevity.
What is the best design advice you can give someone?
There is no right and wrong in design. As long as it makes you happy, then it is right.
Share with us 3 tips for livening up small spaces and making them your own?
a) Plants! Lots of plants
b) Add some mirrors, as they help open up small spaces
c) Ensure you have enough colour going through your space to make it bright and fun.
Sarah wears the Half flower earrings.Share your favourite objects from your home. Any beloved pieces of artwork in your home?
It would be my personal art collection at home. Shahid Datawala’s nature prints are my favourite.
Favourite Indian brand to shop for home decor?
If you could invite 5 people (living or dead) for a dinner party, who would be on your fantasy guest list?
Kelly Wearstler, Oprah, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and A.K Essajees, my great grandfather.
Sarah wears the Chapora dress.
Describe your dressing style in 3 words.
Functional, comfortable and luxurious
We love seeing you in JODI. In fact we were introduced to your work because we first spotted you in JODI! What has been your relationship with the brand?
I am a genuine fan of the brand and it is not something I am saying as I’m getting featured on your blog! I have been a real customer for a very long time now. I love that most of your garments are cotton, which makes them breathable and easy to maintain. The designs are eclectic, making everyday wear look vibrant and fun! Also, the fact that your dresses have pockets and don’t wrinkle easily make them just perfect for me, especially when I am mostly running on sites.
You have a great presence on Instagram, is this something that happened quite organically or is it something you've always nurtured?
I have always loved social media and yes, it has all happened organically. Even when Snapchat was all the rage, I used to religiously keep updating people about my whereabouts and what I am up to, so you can gauge that this is something I always innately loved. IG has been amazing and during the pandemic I started sharing all my life updates. And to be honest, I'm happy to share everything, especially my most vulnerable moments because I think it is a safe platform to build your connections and have deeper conversations.
Photographer - Mihir Thakkar