If Noida Sector 27 resident Urmimala Bhuyan Bora has her way, she will turn every Noida home into an Italian design statement, which, as the trend stands now, is all about being down to earth. Rustic and earthy, non-toxic and organic, using low-cost material such as mud. "Mud is an ecologically sustainable material, which is the current favourite of Italian designers," says the interior designer, just back from a four-month-long course in the reputed IED Institute, Milan.
Apart from being a fashion hub, Milan, of course, is also the design capital of the world, and there is indeed no better place to pick up the tricks and trends of interior design. "The natural and rough look is the code of the day," says the designer, who was earlier teaching in various Noida institutions such as JD Institute, IIFT and Asian Film and TV Academy.
So why was this special need to go for a special course mid-career? "I have been teaching for a while. And all this while I have been giving and giving. Now I want to receive — more skills, more information, updating myself on all that's happening in the global interiors market," she says, even as she looks forward to tying up with prominent design houses as a consultant.
DOWN TO EARTH: Italian interior designers' current favourite, mud, makes for a great eco-friendly material
But will Noida be receptive to high-end interior solutions? "Not really," she says, without flinching. "Gurgaon, with all its multinational corporate culture, is definitely the market for interiors."
Of course, she thoroughly enjoyed the intensive four-month course on spatial design that had students from all over the world — Brazil, China, Turkey, Russia. "Normally, the course is for a year, but since I was already a practising designer, I was allowed to complete the course in four months," she says. Packed with practical assignments, she was left with very little time to even miss her 14-year-old daughter or her architect hubby. Yes, the lessons were in English, which was great, but the course also had an Italian-language class that taught her rudimentary Italian — that helped her find her way out on the road if lost or ask for specific items from a store or just to greet people.
Despite little time to spare, Bora managed to throw in sightseeing as well, as she travelled by train ("cheap and convenient") to nearby towns such as Verona — "I took the morning train, spent the day there and returned by evening."
CLASSIC ACT: A Dwarka house designed by Bora
This, even as she relished Italian cuisine all through. She tried a mind-boggling variety of pastas and a selection of wines priced 2 euro onwards. Then there were these great deals where, for 10 euro, you not only got a drink but also a huge buffet spread to choose from. "It is cheaper to eat out in Italy than in India; that's why Italians prefer to have their breakfast, lunch and dinner at cafes and restaurants," says Bora, who also cooked biryani and dal makhni for her flatmates. They loved it and returned the favour by cooking native dishes from Brazil and Turkey. "So I picked up exotic recipes from them," says this foodie, who laments the lack of proper eateries in Noida — because of this, she often lands up in South Delhi.
And how can one forget shopping! She picked up jewellery, neckpieces and boots made of famous Italian leather. Interestingly, Italy doesn't believe in mall culture. In Milan, for example, there are at the most two malls on the outskirts. People there still shop the old-fashioned way, from little boutique style outlets. Even mega brands such as Zara and H&M operate not from malls but from independent buildings.
Back in Noida after a while, is she missing Milan? One tends to, she says, given Noida and its residents have a long way to go in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and civic sense. Besides, Italians have a very high sense of aesthetics — and it is not because they have studied design. "Design comes naturally to them. Even a small cafe, equivalent to a Noida roadside stall, will be well conceptualised, with the right balance of colour and detail — and without spending a fortune," she says.
COZY: Interiors of another house Bora crafted
But then, she isn't complaining. Living here since 1999, Noida, she says, is better connected to Delhi than other NCR towns. The roads are great, too. Cost of living is also lower. As for her own sector, being a well-settled neighbourhood, one doesn't have to suffer new constructions nearby. This sector, almost on the border of Delhi, has amenities such as Kailash hospital nearby. People are very civil — most of her neighbours are bureaucrats and technocrats.
Sure she would love to be participate in RWA activities. But more often managed by senior citizens, she stays away. If the younger lot come in to play a role, she would be happy to.
Well, how about you showing the way, ma'am?