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Sonam Kapoor

Published on 03 Sep 2021

Sonam Kapoor - Actress and entrepreneur tells Orior about her childhood and attachment to New York City.

Orior furniture was created in 1979 by Brian and Rosie McGuigan, who met as teenagers in Northern Ireland, lived in Copenhagen for a couple years, and now have a showroom in New York City.

Orior

What city or cities has influenced and/or inspired you the most?

Sonam Kapoor

I am a city girl. I love the energy, the different people. Some of my favorites are Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Paris and Chandigarh, the Indian city designed by Le Corbusier where my grandfather used to live. In places like London, Delhi or New York, where there is still old architecture, and all the new, you can see the metamorphosis, how it has changed over the years. I find that really moving.

I have a long history with New York City. We’d go every year for our summer holidays, and my sister studied there so when I wasn’t filming I would live with her for months at a time, and sneak into her classes. Also, my husband proposed to me in New York City, while we were taking a walk on the Upper East Side, so for us it is really special.

Orior

Do you live with any family heirlooms? If so, please describe the piece and its history.

Sonam Kapoor

I have a lot of old Indian silver that I inherited form my mother -- vases, photo frames, candle stands and candelabras. Crazy stuff. I also have some Jeanneret chairs, which my Mom had when they lived in Chandigarh. They didn’t consider them fancy at all, a dime a dozen, but you’re not allowed to export them anymore. 5 years ago when we were moving to London we got 2 of them. I think they’re very comfortable as office chairs, but not meant to be at the dining table.

Orior

What architects, interior or product designers do you admire?

Sonam Kapoor

I don’t think people realize how important architects are -- they really shape how a city looks and I am inspired by so many of them. Le Corbusier – whose real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret -- left his mark on Chandigarh. He had his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, design the furniture for government buildings. I have a lot of the old pieces, they are crazy expensive now.

I also love Geoffrey Bawa, a Sri Lankan architect whose buildings seem to grow out of nature, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bijoy Jain, Charlotte Perriand and Zaha Hadid.

Orior

Give us three reasons you chose the Whitman Table and Pop Chair? What about it appealed?

Sonam Kapoor

I’ve always loved the idea of long tables. My mother actually used to say “when you have a lot, instead of building higher walls, build a longer table.” And I love cooking and hosting friends, so the Whitman is an amazing piece that I can share with people in my life. It also visible grains and the patterns look different depending where you sit.

The Pop chair is 1970s inspired, so big and comfortable, perfect for reading and chilling. And it’s covered in a pinky-red velvet, which is very retro.

Orior

Where do these pieces live now? Has it moved around?

Sonam Kapoor

We bought a Mews house to use as our office, but we wanted to make it look like a home, since we spend so much time here. These houses used to be stables, and are very charming. Madonna had one when she moved here, and Kim Jones lived in a Mews. So the table and chairs live here, along with Nakashima tables, the chairs from Chandigarh, and some other antique chairs I bought at the market.

"Moving to a Western city has really made me appreciate and respect Indian handicrafts. In India we can easily source something handmade, whether textiles, clothing or furniture. So I respect what Orior is doing, it reminds me of home."

Sonam Kapoor

Orior

All Orior pieces have names, but if you could choose a name/rename your Orior pieces, what would you name them and why?

Sonam Kapoor

The Whitman Table was inspired by a boat design, so I would name it Theseus, after the Ship of Theseus. It’s a philosophical concept that questions whether something is in essence the same, if all or some of its parts were replaced. So if I lose a limb and get someone else’s limb, am I still me? That’s the idea. Is a table still a table?

I’d name the Pop chair, Jagger because it’s a 1970s shape that’s cool, fashionable and colorful.

Orior

Do they have any super powers or secret features not obvious from a picture?

Sonam Kapoor

The chairs do not appear as big on the website as they do in person – they are much deeper and more comfortable, but they don’t take up much space. I am 5- foot 10.5 inches tall and I can literally curl up in that chair with a book or a script and zonk out. I consider that a super power.

Orior furniture is hand made in Northern Ireland. It took 21 hours to make the Pop chair, and 8 weeks from start to finish of the Whitman table, often by someone who has been with the company since its early days.

Orior

What things/activities in your life do you dedicate this type of time to?

Sonam Kapoor

You know they say time is the most expensive thing that you have, it’s a limited commodity. In this day and age with social media, telephones and all of that we don’t realize where time goes. I make time for reading, and walking with my husband around London. We’re lucky to have lots of parks here, and to live close to Hyde Park; it’s one of our favorite places to spend time.

Orior

Do you make anything by hand?

Sonam Kapoor

I love cooking. I cook a lot and I like to cook everything from scratch. So if I’m making Italian food I’ll make the pasta, and the tomato sauce. It’s like therapy. I even make my own curry powder and, recently, I made a burger for my husband, all of it, from scratch.

Orior

If you were to be reincarnated as a piece of furniture or home décor item, what would it be, and why?

Sonam Kapoor

I would want to be a piece of George Nakashima furniture. He lived in India, in Ahmedabad, for a while and used a lot of locally-sourced woods to make pieces that really look like they are still a part of nature. I think his most beautiful designs, especially the long tables and chairs, were the ones he made in India, but I might be biased.

Text by Rima Suqi
Photography by Sam Ford