Design Talk: Grounded Design

Bani Singh proposes a design philosophy grounded in simplicity

12 Apr 2022, words by Laura Beaney in Design & Architecture

Bani, Grounded Design

Grounded Design founder Bani Singh mines her background in the social sciences to cultivate living spaces that facilitate emotional and sensorial harmony. Born and raised in Sweden, her approach to interior design proposes a duality of Scandinavian simplicity and international dynamicism. The designer caught the attention of international audiences through a pioneering development project in Sweden before relocating to Dubai. Over the last five years, Bani has contributed to the aesthetics of addresses across the city from serene Palm Jumeirah villas to lush golf estate abodes. Her airy, light-filled spaces stand apart, punctuated by unexpected elements that are united by a sophisticated material palette. We caught up with Bani to discover how the natural world guides her approach to interior design.

Bani: I’m originally Persian but was raised in Sweden. I moved to Dubai around five years ago. My master's degree is in psychology and sociology, I went on to work in these fields for around a decade specialising in children’s rights. My education and experience in the social sciences continue to be an asset; this background helps me to understand the feelings, needs and complexities of humanity more closely. 

 Bani: I developed a love for the creative fields in my youth. I attended theatre classes and drew, I was a social and expressive artist! I viewed the world in colours, shapes and forms and would spend hours in stores just gazing at designs. I knew at some point in life I would tap into this urge. 

 Bani: I dreamed of going to design school, but my mom wanted me to study a more academic subject. Nonetheless, I took on work as a freelance designer in Sweden, and then I was offered a development project. I took it on to challenge myself. The project received exceptional feedback and I was invited to be a guest on an interior, architecture and design television show. This opportunity for exposure changed everything.

Grounded design
Grounded Design project in Redwood, Jumeirah Golf Estates | Image credit: Grounded Design
Bani, Grounded Design
Dubai Hills dining room
L: Bani at her home R: A Dubai Hills dining room (Image credit: Grounded Design)

Bani: I took a leap of faith and moved to Dubai five years ago. When I arrived, I was lucky enough to discover that people had watched my TV show in Sweden! It was the springboard that contributed to my career in the region! 

Bani: Our company, Grounded Design, proposes a ‘grounded’ philosophy. Grounded, to me, spells well balanced and sensible; that’s what our designs are all about. Our approach to aesthetics draws heavily from nature’s codes - its forms, hues and balance. The natural world is an immense source of inspiration, it’s liberating, whether it's a walk on the beach or hiking in mountains. We do these things to feel something on an emotional level. When you discover nature, you discover yourself. 

 Bani: We try to absorb the sense of liberation and calm stimulated by the outdoors into our interior environments. At Grounded Design we work with a natural material palette - marble, brass, floor-to-ceiling windows are regular features - with the aim of creating balanced spaces. We mix and match and contrast various elements such as the warmth of wood against the coolness of marble to establish a symphony that sparks positive emotion. This might be happiness, peace, safety, intimacy or comfort. 

 Bani: I would describe my approach as minimal yet international. I love contrasts - if it’s too simple I have to spice it up.

Dubai Hills Living Room close up
A Dubai Hills living room close up | Image credit: Grounded Design
We try to absorb the sense of liberation and calm stimulated by the outdoors into our interior environments.

Bani: I love what I do - it’s sheer passion. My creativity and artistry are driven by my passion for architecture and design. I’m very grateful that I could absorb my fascination with human psychology and passion for art into my everyday life. 

 Bani: At Grounded Design, we maintain that “less is more”. We design so that the space whispers rather than screams. The whisper endures because it has substance. The goal is to strike the right cord between ambience and personality - your home should tell your story. 

 Bani: The Redwood Project is one of the many Dubai-based communities that we have had the pleasure of contributing to. The design concept is timeless and polished, livable and tailored to meet the client’s day-to-day needs. The most notable feature is the rotating door that gives the home an artistic feel. We were inspired by the striking view of the golf course and its greenery. A monochrome interior palette forms a contrast and strikes a balance between the indoor and outdoor settings. It’s a cosy, tranquil and personalised address.

Bani: We also have an ongoing project in Sanctuary Falls in Jumeirah Golf Estates. This was our very first project collaboration with our sister company Grounded Estate. The concept is minimal, modern, warm, earthy, serene, and luxurious at once. It will be released and available for sale in December. This is huge for us - we are so excited to witness the reception by the community.

Redwood project
The Redwood home's living room
Sanctuary Hills Living room by Grounded design
Sanctuary Falls living room | Images credit: Grounded Design

 Bani: I have many influences in interiors but my top two would have to be American designers Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler. They have mastered a playful and instantly recognisable signature which I adore. However, my ultimate inspiration is my daughter. She’s so smart and reasonable, having conversations with her inspires my artistry and shifts my perspectives. 

Bani: When reinvigorating your home, don’t be afraid to experiment and work with contrasts. Take your time and create spaces that speak to you and make you feel like yourself. Don’t follow trends, make it personal, and stay true to yourself and the aesthetic that calls to you. Try to strike a balance between materials, colours, and practicality. When it’s right, you will know - it’s all about intuition. 

 Bani: We’re working on many exciting projects at the moment! We recently took on a project in Saint Tropez and we are also pioneering our own development projects with Grounded Estate.