When she moved back to New Delhi with a degree in interior architecture, Ishrat Sahgal did not plan to do what everyone thought she’d do. She was not going to set up an ordinary interior design agency.
The 2011 Rhode Island School of Design graduate had been working in New York before her return to India, where she spotted an opportunity in the market for a new interior design component.
Sahgal had been influenced heavily by her experience in the U.S., she’d received a minor in art history and a studio class called ‘Narrative Museum’ had left an impression on her.
“I’ve always loved fine art and painting, and I’ve always wanted to support Indian crafts,” says Sahgal, “each state [in India] has four or five unique crafts that are so beautiful, but they are fading away because people don’t know about them.”
Setting up her own firm, Mishcat Co, so named because of a childhood nickname given by her brother, was a no-brainer. Her primary focus was the carpet. “I just thought of the carpet as being this unexplored medium that would be interesting to explore,” says Sahgal, “the whole idea was just to disrupt the thought process.”
Noticing that people think rugs are a boring but necessary addition to a house, Sahgal said she wanted to add a bit of “narrative flair” to the product, turning it into a centerpiece. “It’s about using the floor as a canvas, just as the wall is a canvas for a piece of art,” she says.
Mishcat Co helps customers to visualize their space by getting them to first pick out a carpet and then designing the room around the carpet.
Customers can visualize the design on Mishcat Co’s tech savvy website, which allows people to find a carpet and pair it with furniture. Customers can upload photos of their own room, too.
So where does inspiration for the show-stealer, the carpet, come from? The answer is the sari.
The sari is India’s most well-known garment. It is a length of material that varies between five and nine yards. While sari weaving is alive and kicking, traditional hand weavers across the country have struggled in recent years as large sales outlets move towards mechanical weaving looms.