We had the good fortune of connecting with Natasha Shamdasani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natasha, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from the other side of the world. My background and upbringing have been pivotal in who I am today and how I approach my life and my work.
I was born in Taiwan to an Indian family, with a mother whose family had lived in Hong Kong forever, and a father who had bounced around every corner of the world with amazing stories to match. I have family everywhere – from Aruba to Casablanca to Australia. We were moving to London when I was five, when my family decided to call Hong Kong home instead.
In a British school that was expat central, my friends were all multiracial. We grew up with ‘Hong Kong accents’ – we intuitively pick up the accent of the person we are speaking to, because we heard SO many growing up. I still do this!
One of my friends was seven different ethnicities and I thought that was beautiful; that’s how the world should be. We were a total melting pot of cultures.
I’ve always been an artist, but that was not considered a ‘real’ career. So instead, I moved up the corporate ladder in marketing and always had a design company on the side – I’ve had my own firm since 2000! I ended up in luxury travel, which took care of my wanderlust streak, had me sipping champagne first class and staying in luxury hotels. And what I had learned as a child was abundantly clear – your surroundings are integral to how you feel.
My father had taught me that. He insisted on furnishing our homes with the very best and thought design was very important. He loved moving and our homes were always unique and fabulous! I remember once he ordered stunning mustard fabric for our walls, and then designed a Japanese Tatami-style dining room for us, like he enjoyed when he lived in Japan. Another time, he had a navy blue bed with a channeled velvet headboard and attached nightstands custom made for us. There was always a conversation starter. And there was always a story behind every piece.
On Sundays, my father took me to High Tea at The Peninsula Hotel or brunch at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, because “atmosphere matters” and he thought it was the best way get ready for the week ahead. And just as Hong Kong could flit between the East and the West, I danced between Eastern and Western culture and ideas, easily and effortlessly.
Now that wonderful cocktail of global influences comes shining through in my work. I have a passion for pieces from the far-flung corners of the Earth. I especially love figuring out how to blend old-school cultural influences and traditions into modern life in a way that is functional, as well as beautiful.
If you look far back enough, we all come from somewhere. We all have a heritage – a story to tell. I believe in telling that story, so that every time you come home, you are in a space that reflects you and your origins. I weave the experiences that make up the fabric of your life together in a way that everywhere you look, you cannot help but smile. And you are reminded you of the incredible journey you have taken, to be right where you are now.
To me, that is real design. And I learned that from my own journey, my own background
What should our readers know about your business?
Taashki Studio is an interior design firm that takes the overwhelm out of designing a home. Most interior designers have a signature style. In a word, my style is ‘Belonging’.
Because that’s what I search for when I’m designing a home. Everyone has a story. You have so many experiences that led to this moment. And it’s important that ‘HOME’ be the place that feels the most like you; where you truly feel like you belong. If your home looks like it’s straight out of a magazine, but has no warmth; or it’s super on trend, but has no soul, then it’s anything but ‘home’.
So I find the stories that make up the fabric of your life and work them into the design of your home. Did you and your husband honeymoon in Bali? Fabulous, let’s get a beautiful carved bed with some airy white sheets into the Owner’s Suite and turn your Bathroom into a calm oasis that just makes you melt and slow down. Before moving here, did you live on the beach in San Diego? Let’s bring in that cool California vibe and a touch of the ocean with some greens and blues – but not in an obvious way – and push up that relaxed feel with some woven leather accent chairs and a luxurious neutral rug, weathered floors and effortless, relaxed elegance. But let’s not forget where you’re from – let’s dig into your heritage and see if we can’t find some heirlooms, vintage pieces or antiques that take you back to your childhood, or to the sparkle in your grandfather’s eyes. And that’s just the beginning…
I only work with you if we get along like a house on fire. If we can’t share a bottle of wine together, then it’s not going to work. Because trust is integral, and how can I design your home without getting to know you? And this process should be fun, don’t you think?
I want the house to tell YOUR story and reflect YOUR style when we’re done with it; not mine. And that takes time. So the process involves discovering your style and how your family functions. Aesthetics are important, but making your home work for how you live is just as important to me.
The road I’ve traveled with Taashki Studio has been a wild ride! I was as a freelance designer on the side for years before I started my company in Hong Kong in 2000. I kept it breathing in NYC while I went to art school. With my move to Charleston SC, I launched Taashki in a big way with accessories while I rebuilt my interiors portfolio privately. Two babies and a cross-country move meant starting over in Houston. Over the last decade, Taashki has grown and flourished slowly and steadily.
I don’t believe in beautiful design that you can’t live in. I’m looking to design a home that reflects YOU but one you can actually live in. One that is stylish, but not too precious – so your kids don’t feel like they’re bulls in a China shop! A space where you belong. And I recognize that your time is precious and when you have time off, you’d rather be vacationing with the kids than looking at countertops. I have your number. I take you from ‘Dream’ to ‘Done’.
What sets me and my interior design business apart?
I’m not looking to design MY masterpiece. I’m looking to design YOURS.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
H-Town is truly the best-kept secret. Out-of-towners have NO idea how fabulous it is. One of my besties is single, so I’d tell her to stay at the Hotel Zaza just so I could stay with her! How fabulous is their decor? For friends who have family, they’d either crash at our house (more fun for their kids and mine) or stay at the Marriott Marquis where the Texas-shaped pool is sure to thrill!
Most of my friends love art, so we’d hit the Museum of Fine Arts, tour the Sculpture Garden and the Contemporary Museum of Art. I can’t believe those gems are right in the center of town, can you?
We’d have to lunch at Bistro Menil – one of my favorite places ever – and their eggplant fries would be a must-try, and there would definitely be some bubbly involved. After lunch, we’d head over to the Rothko Chapel for some stillness. I love spending time there. I always find it so inspiring. The afternoon would end at The Menil Collection, which is SUCH a treasure. I love that there is so much green space (and that swing!) for kids to run around outside before and after the museum – it makes for much better behaved kids while they are inside!
If I had it my way, I don’t think we ever need to leave Montrose. We would start the next day on Westheimer and browse in the shops. Space Montrose would definitely be on the list for their ever-changing menagerie of beautiful products and Le Labo is a fun place to make your own perfume (!!) And The Guild Shop is fabulous fun too.
If the Rodeo was in town though, we’d have to leave Montrose after all, because that is SUCH an experience, whether its your first time or you’ve been here for a decade. And if it’s not Springtime, then a stop at Tecova’s is definitely on the cards for a pair of bonafide cowboy boots.
The James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University is a not-to-miss experience, as is NASA of course, whether my guests had kids or not. And if kids were coming along, then Houston is a veritable paradise! The Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, the Oil Ranch, Blessington Farms, Ice Skating at the Galleria, Discovery Green, and that’s just scratching the surface!
As far as places to eat, where we went would depend on whether we had kids or not. With kids, Lupe Tortillas, 100% Taquito and Fajita Pete’s just win. We’ve tried all the Tex Mex places we can find and those three just call our name. And the Vietnamese food in this city just cannot be beat! Our favorites are Saigon for Pho and Le Givral’s. Oishi makes for a great kid-friendly sushi experience if your kids have the same expensive habit that mine do, and Izakaya Houston in midtown wins for every other Japanese dish we like.
When the babysitter shows up, the BEST sushi is truly at Kata Robata. I know everyone else has a another favorite, but trust the girl whose father lived in Japan for 20 years and who spent PLENTY of time there, Kata Robata is the real deal. And as far as real deals go, let this Indian girl tell you that I didn’t like Indian food until I went to Pondicherri. Then Kiran’s blew my mind and most recently, my husband proclaimed that Musafeer was the best Indian restaurant he’s ever been to in the world, period. And for our favorites, we go back to State of Grace or Ruggles Black. More recently, Kasra and Hamsa have been topping my list.
I think truly, you could go anywhere in Houston and have a grand time. This city is so diverse and the people are simply amazing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I believe that life is made up of a lot of serendipitous moments and people that lead you to where you are, so there are so many shoutouts I could make!
My two girls, Ziggy and Olive, are everything. They inspire me to show them what is possible when you dream big dreams. They have been my guiding lights and I will not, cannot, fail because of them.
My husband, Loki, is my best friend and my true North. He constantly pushes me to be the best version of myself. He also is the only person that can make me take a break – I love what I do, so if it were up to me, I would be working 24/7!
And nothing – and I mean, nothing – happens without believing in yourself. But that belief has to originate somewhere. And I was lucky enough to be born to parents that told me I could literally touch the stars. When you’re told you can create magic, you do.
Between them, my girls new and old – Heidi, Jay, Caroline and Aja, a plane that almost went down, New York City, everything Richard Bach every wrote and the jukebox that never stops, I find myself in this incredible place. So H-town deserves a place on my shoutout list too.