“No amount of fear can take away the human need to thrive in a community setting”
Today we are sharing our conversation with Neha Arora N, founder of Neha Arora N Interiors and India’s leading coliving designer, who will be part of our panel on construction and design for coliving in a post pandemic world.
You started your career in corporate communications and employee engagement, what got you into interior design and coliving?
I began my career in corporate communications and employee engagement with leading Tech MNCs. However, there was always this irresistible attraction towards doing something in the field of experience & interior design.
I finally took the plunge, by consulting part-time with a design firm, FRDC, and also taking on independent projects in the field of experience and space design for hospitality brands.
One fine day, a friend of mine, Ajay Nemani, who had been observing my work, asked me to design the experience and interiors for a coliving venture called FF21, that he and his partners were planning to start.
Before I knew it, I was neck deep into designing one coliving space after the other, and there has been no looking back ever since.
What is most important when designing a coliving space? And how do you go about doing it?
I believe that are 3 important factors (not in any order), that go into designing a coliving space:
- It should be Instagrammable: In an era where finding the perfect shot for Instagram has become a social norm, coliving spaces need to be designed as social media magnets, that residents are proud to be a part of. Larger-than-life elements, quirky décor, colorful palettes, and photographic goldmines that stop them in their tracks and tempt them to click ‘share’, not only make it attractive for residents, it also helps promote your brand and space.
- It should be Inclusive:
The role of interior design in a coliving space, is to create a sense of community among people who are total strangers to begin with.
To do that, one has to create areas that draw residents out of their personal spaces into common areas. Warm, cozy spaces that hug you like home; communal seating that are conversation starters; naughty & fun references that trigger mirth and camaraderie; all create the energy and vibe that foster a community spirit.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind those people who like a bit of solitude and privacy. Hidden nooks and private areas that allow for some quiet time, should also be embedded into the design.
3. It should be Immersive: Good design, is not just about creating instagrammable and inclusive spaces. It’s also about creating an immersive experience that transports people to another world — a magical space that people can escape to. And I do that, by creating a story and bringing it to life through design elements, and then sprinkling it with a little bit of my pixie dust. ;)
People like to say that eating together is what brings people together, do you find that kitchens are the heart of collective houses?
I would say, that it’s a little different in India. While dining does bring people together, what really lies at the heart of coliving homes here in India, are open air terrace decks and chillout lounges. In a warm country like India, the cool evening breeze, the outdoor vibes, and a love for nature, have a hypnotic pull that draw people out.
And when one applies the 3 I’s of coliving design that I’ve mentioned earlier, embedding the space with lush green plants, relaxing music, ambient lighting, and communal setting, it creates a magically inviting experience.
Do you have a personal experience of coliving?
No. Coliving wasn’t even there in India when I was in my 20s. It’s a fairly nascent industry, that has been seeing rapid growth only in the last couple of years.
Now, as I design for them and watch the young joyously thriving in the community, I do wish it was there in my time!
What has been the biggest challenge for your business so far? And the biggest learning?
In coliving, the biggest challenge is to create head-turning designs in tiny spaces, and on even tinier budgets. One has to maximise the ROI (Return on Investment), while at the same time, creating Instagram worthy designs that are engaging, exciting and an experience for guests.
Interestingly, this has also been my biggest learning, that I use in all my projects.
Do you think coliving is here to stay?
Yes, coliving is here to stay.
No amount of fear can take away the human need to thrive in a community setting.
In fact, if anything, the need is only going to get more intense, with the amount of social isolation one is facing in these trying times.
However, in the post-pandemic world, design sensibilities for coliving will have to change, to adapt to the new normal.
Thank you Neha, for this conversation, we are waiting to hear more about design and how it can influence a space and the people who live in it!
To hear more about Neha Arora N and the future of coliving, join the conversation on September 5th and 6th www.colivinghub.co/conference