Areesha Khalid's 'Diaspora Digest' Reimagines Spaces Through South Asian Architecture

Diaspora Digest
Diaspora DigestAreesha Khalid

The spaces we occupy often provide insight into our inner worlds as they house stories of belonging and heritage. While these intricate details might not seem so blatant in the first glance, only once we really dissect a space and the aesthetics that drive it, can we begin to understand the deeper correlations. Artist Areesha Khalid seeks to reimagine South Asian architecture by capturing in a new light, free from the rather common orientalist depiction in western media. Steeped in nostalgia, these artistic creations take cues from our unique cultural motifs and frame them in the context of vintage luxury. 

Her recent project is a fictional magazine that explores the underrepresented South Asian architecture and is now available as a coffee table book. An ode to her heritage, 'Diaspora Digest' runs on a deep sense of admiration for memory and romanticism. Areesha graduated with a bachelors in Architecture from the University of Westminster but felt a sense of alienation due to the underrepresentation of South Asian spaces that carry remarkable designs and aesthetics. Hence through her own spatial art she explores the attributes of her childhood home with a sense of whimsical curiosity. 

The diaspora digest series is a South Asian take on the famous Architectural Digest magazine. I started the journey by trying to visualise the feelings of nostalgia and longing towards the ‘home’ that we’ve left behind. Since architecture and design is what comes naturally to me and I truly believe the spaces we occupy are a direct reflection of our culture, these illustrations became rooted in the South Asian built environment. This eventually became a self published coffee table book which I hope will ignite some feelings of familiarity and bring some warmth to the diaspora around the world.

Areesha Khalid

These past reflections are consistently present in Areesha’s work, narrating stories through colour, pattern, writing, signage, wear and tear and much more. The freelance designer tends to play with the mundane yet powerful everyday objects and designs in South Asian homes, furthermore her research of the intricate detailing on historical buildings is also reflected through the rich imaginings of a cultural space. These scenes are based on remembered objects and are created using a process of mood boards, photoshop, digital drawing, Rhino 3D, and procreate.  

While speaking to WePresent, Areesha expressed her yearning to reconnect with her homeland as she migrated to London at a very young age. Her pieces are inspired by her own vivid memories and experiences from her time back home. However, oftentimes she also is also informed by the story of a local. Capturing the ‘lived in’ quality of spaces and juxtaposing them with the extravagance of South Asian architecture as represented in many Bollywood films, especially directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. 

Describing the process of creating the magazine as a celebration of growing into herself, the young creative found her own heritage while navigating her journey in architecture. Now presenting a medium for fellow South Asians to appreciate the beauty in their own surrounding spaces and in the one left behind. You can find the coffee-table book here

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