Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom—the dynamic duo behind the globally inspired Ishka Designs—share their design process
A design sketch of a current project in Brooklyn
PERSONAL STYLE Anishka: Call me a cliche but less is definitely more for me. I prefer a spartan aesthetic that celebrates the architecture and materiality of space. Objects should serve a purpose and preferably a multifunctional one. Trends are not important, but old things or one-of-a-kind artisanal things feel right. If the architecture is great—wide open spaces, floor to ceiling windows and doors, and moveable walls—I am happy to not have much else Niya: I like my environments to be layered—infused with art, history, and culturally symbolic objects. I definitely lean towards minimal furnishings and aesthetics, but art and artisanal objects must have a place.
TOP 3 White House, Jamaica: This large, ground-up beach front property utilized every skill set we had and at the same time, taught us a lot about location specificity, working with local trades and artisans, honoring authenticity, and respecting the environment. We developed a lot of furnishings for this project, all influenced by the location, some produced locally, others in Indonesia. TriBeCa, NYC: We designed quite a number of furnishings for this project, which were all produced in Brooklyn. We also sourced mostly US-based artisans and there are some overseas artisans in the home as well. We mixed in a few vintage pieces. We also designed the roof terrace and garden. Overall, the penthouse has a very serene vibe and is more aligned with our personal aesthetic. East Hamptons, NY: We love working with repeat clients. This country home and vacation rental property has floor to ceiling windows and doors throughout, so it was refreshing to design an environment that respects that indoor/outdoor connection.
GLOBAL INSPIRATION Niya: People, location, art, travel, music, and style. Anishka: Location, materiality, nature, and travel. We are influenced by design and architectural genres, namely minimalism, brutalism, African art and architectural design, Japanese architecture and furniture design, Indonesian tropical modern, and Scandinavian furniture design. The last time we were in Tokyo we saw the Tadao Ando retrospective and we were blown away. Recently we learned of Bijoy Jain and we are moved by his work and approach, and we are also fans of David Adjaye.
NEW BEGINNINGS We are working on two out of state projects, one is a new construction home in Colorado and the other an existing home in San Francisco. Very excited about these two, but of course with the pandemic still a full-blown risk, site visits will have to be very limited to minimize potential exposure. Thankfully technology is mitigating the challenge that out of state projects present. Another interesting and inspirational project is for Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy in Brooklyn, to be located in the Bedford Armory, which is itself undergoing a major renovation.
STEP BY STEP All of our projects are comprehensive: entire home renovations, ground up construction, and sometimes commercial spaces. The very first thing we do once we’ve signed a client is an intake session. This allows us to explore the personality, lifestyle, brand, or business at a deep level in an effort to understand function, as well as give us concept direction. We use AutoCAD for plans, elevations, and 3D renderings. The design process is organic, and once what is in our head is on paper or screen, it continues to unfold in multiple variations until it feels right. Sometimes, not until the existing plans are drawn does the inspiration start to manifest itself. If we have the time or it is necessary, we use either Sketchbook and/or the Morpholio apps to hand render on top of our digital renderings for a more artistic feel. Ultimately, technology has definitely aided and pushed the design process for us.
TREND REPORT Anishka: Trends are not important, but old things or one-of-a-kind artisanal things feel right. We find that as the years go by, we are not concerned or driven by trends. If we loved something (furniture, design style) that happened to have been trending at some point in the past, we will use it in our ongoing design solutions whether or not it is in favor. Niya: No to trends.