In the 1990s when the Indian fashion scene was in its infancy, Adarsh Gill, a well-established designer overseas, returned to her homeland after making a mark in the West with her unique creations. Her designs were patronised by legendary actress and ballerina Natalia Makarova who got married in her gown, while the stunning Jackie O (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) donned her very first creation after Adarsh launched her label.
It’s been almost 25 years that she has been residing in one of the most upscale areas in Lutyens Delhi, in a bungalow on Rajesh Pilot Marg, and when we were invited to meet her at her palatial residence we couldn’t help but notice her exquisite collection of silver furniture and dazzling décor that speaks volumes about her refined taste.
“I have a very eclectic taste in décor,” says the veteran designer, who started her own furniture and décor line in 2007, Adarsh Gill Homes. “I have been designing and collecting silver furniture for quite some time now, almost eight years. You’ll see all kinds of influences in my home furniture — some pieces are colonial, some are art deco and some are classic Chippendale. Even though the décor is in silver, the overall look is subtle, and most of the furniture in my house is designed by me. In fact, I have supervised it while it was created in my own factory in Noida. I was always interested in doing my own homes, and when I was living in New York and Paris, I kept changing homes and decorated almost 15 homes before I finally arrived and settled here.”
As you enter Adarsh’s home, a beautiful silver-coated swing (jhoola) with two matching Nandi bulls greet you at the entrance foyer that faces a lush garden with a beautiful fountain.
A spacious guest room with a silver king-sized bed and tasteful interiors leads you towards a lavish lobby decorated with chandeliers and artworks on the wall. As you enter the living area, a Victorian era inspired set-up with silver coated furniture and a huge mirror takes you to a royal realm.
“Each room in the house has a different colour scheme and I have designed furniture according to the mood of the area. Everything that we have at home is made of teak wood, which is later coated with silver,” says Adarsh, as she elaborates, “My favourite piece in the collection is the centre table — it’s an art deco design and has very fine craftsmanship at the silver base. It has a centre glass table top and a silver pot on it that holds the focus of the entire room seamlessly. I also like the mirror hanging in the living room, which I picked up from Austria, and is one of the antique pieces that I collected from my travels.”
She adds, “In the beginning, when I did my house, I picked up a few Chippendale furniture pieces. I also had a few pieces from the 16th and 14th century restoration period. My personal taste is all about quality, and design-focused. I have access to a lot of different furniture and fabrics, so I keep changing these every two years. I do this because I get bored with the same thing. For me, it’s like changing clothes.”
The designer mentions that her house and its furniture does catch the fancy of her large circle of friends, and this prompted her to start her interiors brand a few years back. But it’s also been the focus of unwarranted attention at times. She recounts an incident: “My house was featured among an issue of ‘Palaces of India’ by a French journalist, who loved the house so much that she published the pictures of the residence despite a written embargo. Although I try to keep a low profile about my personal space, every time there is an article about my house I get many queries. It also attracts a lot of phony people, who come posing as potential buyers and try to steal the designs and ideas.”
The veteran designer, who has worked with iconic labels like Armani and Versace, has been running her couture label for 30 years, but still enjoys designing fresh creations. In India, Neeta Ambani, Maureen Wadia, and Zarine Khan are seen in her ensembles, as are her regular patrons. “It’s a good feeling when the who’s who of fashion comes to you for new ideas. For me designing clothes or furniture is like songwriting, it’s within you, and you have to keep coming up with new things.”