Dr. Schmidt is Associate Professor of interior design, design history & heritage studies and director of the Centre for Historic Houses at O.P. Jindal Global (Institution of Eminence Deemed To Be University), India. A scholar-practitioner she is inspired by traditional design and the re-vitalization of historic principles of design in a contemporary setting. Her expertise is the research, design, development and promotion of historic houses and palaces. In this capacity she has developed designs for listed buildings including UNESCO world heritage sites and created innovative contemporary uses for historic buildings. Currently she is working on revitalization projects in India in combination with capacity building and poverty alleviation.
She has planned residential interiors for historic houses in Europe and the US and has also collaborated with the Etchika Werner design studio in Berlin (listed as one of the leading interior design studios in the world in Andrew Martin’s International Interior Design Review). She has lectured worldwide including Oxford University, Columbia University, Harvard University, the Max-Planck-Institute, the Hebrew University, the Museum for Applied Art in Vienna and at the Institute for Advanced Study, London University, where she was a prize lecturer.
Her scholarship focuses on the role of objects and interiors in identity-formation and how the encounter of different cultural contexts informs design processes. Other research interests concern the role of women in the professionalization of interior design. As head of interior design departments in five Indian cities she has championed research-based design and a more holistic approach between design and theory and practice in addition to emphasizing the importance of regional, sustainable and traditional design practices.
Dr. Schmidt studies at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge and received her Ph. D. from the University of Oxford, where she was Michal Wills Scholar and tutor and won the John Lowell Osgood Prize for her dissertation. Passionate about historic houses she has lived in unusual houses from a Baroque palace, a rickety summer villa of the Imperial Habsburg family in the Austrian mountains, a monastery, the house of the 17thcentury astronomer Edmund Halley, the painter’s Gustav Klimt’s magical lake-side villa, an American neo-Palladian villa designed by a chef, magician and museum director and a hen house near the 18th century garden paradise of Wörlitz, Germany, famous for its artificial volcano eruption.
She has travelled the world from a remote German village, to Goethe’s study in Weimar, to the ancient Egyptian temples at the Nile and explored the secret rooms of Indian forts and palaces. Her curiosity to look behind closed doors gets her into trouble at times, as when she explored the famous Vienna Musikverein and was tempted to open a door and found herself on stage ready for an audition in the presence of the conductor Zubin Mehta. Currently she is doing research on a palace in a region that Bill Clinton called the most dangerous place on Earth. If she does not visit historic gardens and houses she plays the piano, reads or spends time with horses and dogs.
For her work she has received the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art award for contributions to European decorative arts, an award and fellowship from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture in New York, the DAAD scholarship, the German Merit Foundation scholarship/Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and the Ian Karten Award.