East meets West in Interior Design: Historic Houses and Interiors of India and Contemporary Design practices

Instructor: Dr. E. Schmidt

Saturdays, 10:00 am – 5 classes – total 12 hrs

Fee: $100 or equivalent INR (as per the AES Business Office exchange rate)

Begins: Saturday, February 9

Maximum class size – 12


The East has always inspired Interiors in the West: From porcelain cabinets and the craze for Chinoiserie in the 17th and 18th century and bedrooms decorated with Indian chintz to the “first” boutique hotel designed by the former Bond girl Anoushka Hempel or Kelly Hoppen’s sleek contemporary version of East meets West. But it also worked the other way: Mughal Emperor’s had their court painters invent new paintings based on European art or they used Italian stone work in their forts. In the 18th and 19th century palaces and country houses were built in India based on European designs or they were filled with European furniture. Maharajas ordered crystal, silver and cars from Europe and created their own Indian lifestyle combining tradition and modernity and East and West. A glimpse of the world in the living room, a curiosity in other countries and the fusion of different styles and cultures has always been a major design inspiration and vision of how to live our life both in the East and in the West.


This class has three aims: First to study interiors in historic buildings that incorporate design elements from East and West from the Red Fort to the Princely Estate of Bikaner House, to the Presidential Palace in Delhi and to the Imperial Hotel. Second to look at how interior designers use elements of both traditional style and Indian elements to create a new contemporary look. Third to create both a mood board and a design concept. The focus will be on Indian textiles, color schemes and accessories and architectural details as design highlights.


Class 1 (2 hours): Introduction and lecture on East meets West in Indian architecture and Design. Preparation for the mood board and collection of images and sources


Class 2 (3 hours): Visit to the Red Fort with a focus on color scheme, arches, building materials and European influences (followed by a visit to Chandni Chowk to look for materials) and luncheon at a Heritage boutique hotel for those who are interested


Class 3 (2 hours): Nancy Lancaster & John Fowler and the Creation of the English Country House style as an example of how to blend colors and different styles and periods. Short workshop on Indian colors.


Class 4 (3 hours): Excursion to the Presidential Palace -Rashtrapati Bhawan. Lecture on Sir Edwin Lutyens and his fusion of Indian and European elements in the interiors followed by a visit to the Imperial Hotel and brunch at the 1911 restaurant of the hotel for those who are interested.


Class 5 (2 hours) Workshop on moodboards and concept development followed by tea at the Princely Estate of Bikaner House.


Participants are encouraged to take photographs (with their phones) to create the moodboard.


Costs: There will be some additional costs for the print-out of color photographs for the mood board and other materials. Also there will be costs for the tickets to the Red Fort and the Presidential Palace.


Dr. Schmidt is Associate Professor of interior design, design history & heritage studies and director of the Centre for Historic Houses at O.P. Jindal Global University, India. A scholar and practicing interior designer she is inspired by traditional design in a contemporary setting. Her expertise is the research, design, development and promotion of historic houses and palaces. Dr. Schmidt studied at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge and received her Ph. D. from the University of Oxford, where she was Michal Wills Scholar and tutor and won the John Lowell Osgood Prize for her dissertation. She is passionate about historic houses.