Visions: Shimmering Architectonic Brilliance of Payal Kapoor’s Design Genius


We live by our visions in the currents of time, transcending the concurrent streams of an ever-changing reality. As our present remains a blur sliding on the edges of the passing waves of moments and the coming tides of future visions, there is an impulse within us that defines, confines, designs, and decorates our three-dimensional, colourfull, and worldly reality.

In fact, we live inside the architectonics of the world envisioned by our senses for us. Our deepest wishes, innate desires, and ornate dreams fill the panoramas of the interior of time’s droplets moment by moment.

This is what life is all about. While the expanse of our past’s incompleteness embodies our present demands, a glimpse into the window of time by a creatively passionate mind of designing genius like Visions’ Founder, Director, and Interior Designer, Payal Kapoor, can reshape the future of our world by fulfilling all our demands, needs, and expectations from the spaces we live in.

On Life’s Canvass

Payal says, “I do try and infuse the neoclassic style with contemporary classic and create a fusion.” Keeping the tones subtle, merging architecture landscape with interiors by creating spaces that flow from inside to outside – Large windows, Subtle palettes, Huge bright canvas on wall that speaks for itself and extends vibrancy and colour – Lamps chandeliers and perfect lighting that set the mood.

Over the years with experience one becomes picky and critical of one’s own work at times and cannot compromise. “More so in my case as we execute turnkey civil and interiors works.” Hence it becomes imperative that the finish Tones, Choice of colours, Materials used both hard and soft are absolutely in sync with each other and there is a perfect marriage between architecture design and landscape.

Modelling Magnificence

Payal and her magnificent Visions are preceded by her fame as the world-renowned interior designer of ‘The Palace on Wheels,’ The Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur, The USI Building for the President of India, and The Imperial Hotel, Janpath New Delhi. She, as a visionary, saw the world as an open canvas on which her fanciful torques could shape the interiors of human space-time to her own visions.

Payal studied at the renowned Carmel Convent School in New Delhi as a young girl, except for one year when she moved to Mumbai due to her father’s stationing there, “He was a naval officer.”

After finishing her higher education, she pursued interior design at the Polytechnic College for Women for three years before moving on to hospitality, hotel, and commercial design.

The Executive Director of one of Delhi’s leading Interior Designers handpicked her after she graduated from the Interiors School in 1987, sensing a magnificent creative spirit in her. She was offered a challenging opportunity as senior advisor of their design firm ‘Craftsmen’ by the promoters of ‘Dream City after gaining sufficient exposure at Manasara. This firm’s projects were mostly completed on a turnkey basis.

“After working with one of New Delhi’s leading design firms, I gained valuable experiences and nuances of design and later joined another firm that exposed me to sites-civil interiors and furniture making,” she says.

Under Payal’s direction, the company expanded from making panel doors and windows to producing high-quality furniture and completing several Turnkey projects.

Vanquishing Obstacles

“After working for both firms for about three years, I decided to strike out on my own and launch ‘VISIONS‘ in 1990,” she continues. I admit it was difficult at first because I had no connections or ideas for acquiring projects because I had no business background. However, for any minor assignment that came my way, I worked hard and met every deadline.”

Her ordeal was far from over. She faced numerous challenges in the design industry because she lacked a godfather, godmother, or even a family member with a design background. Her relatives worked in medicine, engineering, services, and business. “I was the sole business owner,” she says.

Communication was slow thirty years ago, when there was no internet, WhatsApp, smartphones, and so on. There was a lot of reliance on research through books and libraries, and she was completely hands-on, so speed slowed as communications were physical or via landlines.

There were also concerns about entering a male-dominated profession, dealing with labor, which is always dominated by men, and traveling long distances for work. Clients were sometimes extremely unprofessional and never paid on time, and others would complete the job but never pay, despite a formal contract. Payal, who was only in her twenties, was devastated by these events. Working hard, not getting paid, and facing harsh criticism was discouraging and demoralizing.

According to Payal, each day is a day of learning. Learning lessons from every bad experience meant that she educated herself to gauge the human mindset and reactions, learning to understand various personalities in her line of work. It also taught her necessary interpersonal skills and the art of dealing with difficult clientele and circumstances. Apart from learning to be patient, she maintained her self-respect and stayed strong, keeping her head high and focusing on the work at hand. She adds, “Such experiences meant I was ready to handle any situation professionally.”

Accomplishing a Farsightedness 

These experiences and her creative instinct guided Payal in designing some of the best iconic structures in and around India. They include luxury trains like The Palace on Wheels and Sambhar Express, over twenty hotels, and royal palaces, six schools, twelve offices such as TATA’s corporate office and Reliance Industries’ New Delhi office, forty residences including French Embassy Guest House in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Mint Casino Ship, PVR Mega Mall, Gurgaon, five showrooms including IGI Airport Departure, and many more.

Adding to her already escalating fame, Payal has also received numerous awards, including 

  • Excellence in Architecture & Design at the Festival of Architecture & Interior Designing (FOAID) 2019.
  • WADe Asia 2018, Baron’s Who’s Who (USA) of the World Global Edition.
  • International Design Award
  • Adex was also bagged as the Best Indian Designer from India
  • Chosen as the Best Indian Designer in 1998-2000

Also, Payal has been featured in

  • Greatest Designers of the World Coffee Table Top Book, By USA
  • Barons Who’s Who of the World
  • Best Spa Designer 2007

Payal recalls a few moments of epiphany that launched her on the path to success. Her first milestone came in 1991, when she was awarded her first independent hotel consultancy project, The Imperial Hotel, Janpath, New Delhi. Following that, The GD Goenka School in Vasant Kunj, the USI building for the President of India, The Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, and The Palace On Wheels were absolute highlights until today.

Payal never wanted to be stereotyped as doing only one type of work throughout her career. “I always wanted to experiment and take on challenging projects,” she says, “and after successfully overcoming all hurdles, those were ‘aha!’ moments for me, as I also received much-deserved recognition.”

Achieving Monumental Milestones

Out of these, she says that without a doubt, The Palace on Wheels luxury train project remains her monumental achievement so far. “Converting it from a meter gauge to a broad gauge was a significant turning point for me, despite being associated with previous multi-million projects,” she says.

Payal won this project out of the country and successfully completed it, putting India in a neck and neck position with The Royal Scotsman train, bringing The Palace on Wheels to a number one ranking. Previously ranked number ten, this luxury train received much press coverage with its bespoke décor that depicted the rich cultural history of India. Also, with it came a high since Payal, along with her Visions, became a force to be reckoned with in her field.

Sharing the design USPs of Visions, Payal says she does not impose her design ideas on any client and tries to incorporate their style and needs in the final design. Visions prefer to work as a team to achieve the end result per clients’ sensibilities.

It is important to adapt to the client’s needs, budget timelines, and aesthetics and handholding them till the end. “And I guess that’s what makes our Visions different,” she states, “With us, the client does not have to look for people to execute their work as we have an in-house team of civil, interiors, and landscape fit-outs.” Visions is a one-stop shop, so the clients have no headaches as they deal with only one person.

“As with technology advancing so fast and competition becoming strong with new professionals entering the industry it becomes important to keep yourself abreast with trends and also at my level to ‘set the trends,” she adds. Create something out of the box. “That is timeless has been my idea of a perfect design. I would want people to walk in even after years and feel that the interiors are fresh and classy.”

Envisioning Your Own Dreams

In her advice for the young designers and women out there, “I would only say that there is no shortcut to hard work, honesty and focus on timelines, integrity and immaculate deliverables as promised to a client by you. Respect time, be punctual, and honour your word and commitments always. A good project well delivered will not only get you more work and appreciation but also take you a long way and get you more work. Reputation matters a lot. My working module is that I do less work but it’s quality over quantity.”

Living by Your Own Visions

Despite all the shortcomings in the industry, Payal and her team Visions, are highly passionate about what they do. “There are times when I am not very enthusiastic about some things, but I work on it by discovering small ways to keep the excitement high,” she says. Despite the challenges, the show must go on!

In her special advice to professional women, Payal says they must be respected as they embody the art of balancing work, the home, life, and everything. She appeals to them, “I do believe that time management is essential to being an organized person. Delegating and outsourcing must be used wherever possible, so please do it.”

More importantly, love and trust yourself. Also, be motivated by setting aside some time for self-care and enjoyment with friends. Learn to laugh and to let go, as some situations are beyond your control, and you cannot please everyone. Furthermore, never compromise your self-respect and dignity because you are worth much more than you think.