By Nazanine Nouri
India Mahdavi — the French-Iranian architect and designer dubbed the “virtuoso of color” by the New Yorker Magazine — has launched a colorful collection of crafted ceramics and textiles in natural materials, in collaboration with H&M.
The India Mahdavi x H&M Home collection bears the designer’s signature rainbow style on everything from plates, serving bowls and vases, to cushion covers, throws and rugs. It was launched in select stores and online in April. She designed this collection during lockdown to bring joy, optimism and color to the world of interiors.
Mahdavi, whose work until now has been mostly high-end, in limited editions, or made to order, said it was important for her to democratize her work and to “make it accessible to everyone.”
The H&M Home collection is a way for her to “spread beauty on a large scale,” she told AD PRO.
India Mahdavi was born in 1962 in Tehran to an Iranian father and an Egyptian mother, and lived in Iran for the first year and a half of her life. The family left for Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1964 after her father received a grant to study at Harvard University.
Mahdavi returned to Iran decades later — between 2012 and 2017 —
and took a portfolio of photographs which she published in a book titled “Portraits de Villes – Téhéran.”
“It took 50 years for me to discover this country, this city,” Mahdavi notes on her website. “I wanted to show an intimate part of Tehran, with some inhabited interiors and others empty, abandoned. I like the contrast between this [megapolis] of 18 million inhabitants and the sweetness of the tea, the hospitality…”
When she was still a child, in 1968, the family decided to move to Europe: first to Heidelberg, Germany, then to Vence in the south of France. There, India and her four siblings attended a progressive school where they were encouraged to be autonomous.
Mahdavi studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, earning a degree in architecture in 1987. In 1989, she spent a year in New York, studying industrial design at the Cooper Union, graphic design at New York’s School of Visual Arts, and furniture design at Parsons School of Design.
She then returned to Paris where she worked as artistic director in Christian Liaigre’s design studio for seven years.
Mahdavi went on to establish her namesake atelier, IMH Interiors, in Paris in 1999, designing hospitality and residential projects worldwide, before launching her furniture collection and petit objects designs with two showrooms in 2003 and 2011, respectively. In 2016, she received France’s highest cultural award, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and was inducted into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Mahdavi’s iconic projects for public spaces around the world have created some of the world’s most photogenic interiors. Notable projects include the most Instagrammed restaurant in London with its iconic pink interiors at the Gallery at Sketch between 2014 and 2022; Ladurée tea rooms in Beverly Hills and Tokyo; Le Germain in Paris; the Hôtel du Cloître former monastery in Arles; Coburg Bar at London’s Connaught Hotel; Monte Carlo Beach in Monaco; and Townhouse in Miami.
Mahdavi’s work is influenced by memories of her nomadic life. Her culturally diverse lifestyle while growing up is reflected in her eclectic designs. Each of her projects, be it a bar, restaurant, hotel, private residence or a piece of furniture carries in it modern yet familiar elements. The designer’s work is minimal yet playful, characterized by a combination of humor, elegance and sensuality.
The designer has a particular reverence for craftsmanship. “The know-how of craftsmanship is at its best when serving the imaginary,” she notes on her website www.india-mahdavi.com. “When the might of the hand is combined to the might of the mind, the magic is revealed. Beauty only results from this encounter.”
Mahdavi is the author of “Home Chic,” a guidebook to interior style, published in 2012; and “India Mahdavi,” her eponymous monograph published in 2021.