10 Indian Interiors in 10 Indian Cities

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Last year, German photographer Karen Knorr published a book documenting the interiors of India’s opulent and colorful old palaces, temples and forts alongside acclaimed author William Dalrymple. That book, India Song, was filled with the sort of fairytale-like images that so many people identify with Indian architecture. I lost myself in these photos again while writing this post, dreaming about the lives of the people that inhabited these spaces and imagining the bare feet of the children of royalty that ran through these marble corridors and the lull of hot afternoons behind sugary stained glass.

But there is a new generation of  cafes, restaurants and hotels to bring this incredible architectural and design heritage into the future. Humming with cultural fusion, new talent bringing international perspectives and of course the craftwork that binds it all together, these contemporary interiors are changing the landscape of design and architecture in India. Today I’m sharing 10 of my favorite spaces in 10 different cities across India. –Rohini


  1. Lena says:

    It’s quite embarrassing and dare I say colonial, that the editorial on these photographs constantly compares the Indian spaces with those in the West. Can’t they be lovely and interesting in their own right? And how about some less gentrified and exclusionary spaces?

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      The writer of this article was born and raised in India and I’m very sure that her intention was never to imply that these spaces (or their “Western” influences) mean Indian design is “less than” in any way. Most contemporary design and architecture is influenced by a wide mix of worldly styles and aesthetics, and I think these spaces were meant to show the way international cultures (and their styles) have started to mix into Indian interiors, too. She’s already written several posts on wonderful Indian design, if you’re looking for something more traditional:




  2. Clare says:

    So fascinated by the restaurant ‘inspired by Australian cuisine.’ As an Australian, I always think of us as lacking identity/ culture (including cuisine), and grasping at anything that comes our way. Absorbing (cannibalizing), rather than giving out. Interesting to see that outsiders can see a distinct culture that they can draw on!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Hi Clare, yes I was too – it is headed up by Australian chef Sarah Todd – all about fresh and simply cooked food flavoured by a charcoal grill. Sort of a perfect fit for a Goan restaurant! : )

  3. Donatella says:

    It’s Karen Knorr, not Korr. I have loved her photography for a long time.

  4. These are gorgeous!! Makes me want to go to India sooooooooo bad!

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      MS.Weatherbee, thankyou! It makes me want to go as well – alas India is so vast no matter how many times I return it doesn’t feel like I have experienced even a fraction of it. I am dying to hole up in that Darjeeling retreat this winter when I visit my grandmother in Calcutta… I will probably just end up rolling around on my bed in her home however – only waking to be fed ; )

  5. Rae says:

    @ Lena
    India has a cultural history spanning 4500 years. It is currently home to 1.2 billion people, and shares borders with 6 countries. Add to this increasing trade, tourism, migration, and internet access, you get design ideas that are constantly shifting as cultures influence each other.

    The influence of 87 years of British rule in their design aesthetic is just one moment in a culturally rich and diverse nation. I would go so far as to say the ‘western’ architecture in India is unlike what you’d find anywhere else due to the influence of traditional Indian design, religion, neighbouring cultures, materials, climate, & workmanship. Yes, it’s western influenced, but it’s become an iconic part of Indian design & history.

    1. Rohini Wahi says:

      Wow Rae you sound like you have a real grip of design history, especially India’s I am sure I could learn a thing or two from you. Do you work in / are schooled in this area?

      1. Rae says:

        Hi Rohini
        No, not trained in design (but I read A LOT), & my day job couldn’t be more unrelated.
        Although my grandmother was born to an English father in Lahore under British Rule, and her mix of English & now-Pakistani heritage was a huge part of my childhood, I’m in no way fully conversant in India’s history.
        But I am interested in adopted/ blended cultures. From influence on a small scale (e.g. marriage), to decades of influence from colonisation (India/ Britain, Cuba/ Spain, Vietnam/ France).
        Plus, it annoys me when someone writes off part of a culture as ‘inauthentic.’ You can’t devalue a culture or label it inauthentic because its history offends you. People do crappy things. But out of that can come beautiful (and rebellious) creative expression.

  6. Shibani says:

    I LOVE this piece! I’ve been to The Pantry in Mumbai– great space and delicious food! I love seeing pieces on Design Sponge from my hometown!


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