Priyanka Shah loves designing products that are quirky and playful in character but have a distinct functionality.
Playful yet elegant — as she likes to describe it — products from Priyanka Shah’s brand, Shed, will tempt you to whip your wallet out. Only a year old, the brand specialises in furniture, home décor and even jewellery, and was Priyanka’s project right after college.
“As a child, I wasn’t much of a talker. While I enjoyed maths and physics, I was extremely inclined towards visual arts,” says the graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York, about her love for all things artsy.
The 25-year-old’s interests soon shifted towards furniture and product design and eventually led to Shed being born. “I think architecture and designing are the same thing because there’s no barrier to designing,” muses Priyanka about her shift. “It’s just a shift in scale from a large one to a small one. I eventually realised that I wanted to be engaged in something where I can directly be involved in creating the product I want to make. Since I have a family business of manufacturing, I found a basement in one of our factories, which was my ‘shed’ at a time when I was just starting.”
Her love for creating products also extends to learning about machines and how to operate them, leading to her crafting of quirky products.
Explaining her design philosophy, she explains, “Everything I make will have a playful character to it. Of course, the products will be serious in nature, will be elegant, and will have a specific function. But there will be a physical element to them which will be playful. One can fidget with them, and yet feel a certain smoothness. I make sure that my products encourage the user to interact with them. And I feel that is necessary, especially in today’s world of mass-produced furniture.”
Drawing inspiration from architects like Anupama Kundoo and Gurjit Singh Matharoo, Priyanka mentions that she likes adding extra elements to her creations. For instance, a coffee table will be more than just that, with different patterns on the surface. “It’s like adding a characteristic to the furniture, to make it more fun and beautiful,” she says. “I try to work traditionally. Instead of thinking of new ways to create, I try to ideate with old ways in which a particular product is made.”
For the designer, seeing her ideas come to life, and having people appreciate them is the best possible form of gratification. “Going through the whole process of thinking of an idea and creating it on your own is a great feeling. If a person looks at my product and has a smile on his face, then maybe that’s it,” she smiles.
Priyanka draws attention to a spinning top, a product she loves to create. “The spinning top is such a playful object. It instantly takes you back to your childhood. It engages with people. I love creating things that create a dialogue.”
Ask the Surat and Mumbai-based designer about what she’s currently working on, and her excitement is palpable. “I’m working on a spinning top, which would engage the user to create their own spinning top. I’m trying to combine the action of making a spinning top and playing with it,” she signs off.