Sunita Kohli is a research-based interior designer, a leader in historical architectural restoration and a manufacturer of fine contemporary and classical furniture. She has worked in several countries, notably Egypt where has designed several resorts and luxury hotel boats on the Nile for the ‘Oberoi Group’ such as Hotel Oberoi Mena House, the Oberois in El-Arish and Aswan and the Oberoi Philae Cruiser. She has also restored, designed and furnished Naila Fort in Jaipur for Mr. PRS Oberoi. Most recently she has been working in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. She specializes in the design of public buildings, hotels and resorts, luxury hotel boats, forts, palaces, heritage properties, aircrafts, corporate offices and private residences.
In New Delhi, Sunita Kohli has restored and decorated many British period buildings – designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Robert Tor Russell – notably Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretariat and Hyderabad House. She has also restored No. 3 and No. 5 Racecourse Road, the Official Residence of the Prime Minister, among several other bungalows in the Lutyens Bungalow Zone. She is presently working again on the restoration, decoration and modernization of Rashtrapati Bhawan. She has also interior designed the British Council Building, the largest of their eighty institutions worldwide; and done the interior architecture and design of the DLF Corporate Office on Parliament Street.
In Thimpu, Bhutan, Sunita Kohli designed the National Assembly Building in 1989. She and her architect daughter, Kohelika Kohli, again worked on this Parliament Building and the adjoining National Council Building for the SAARC Summit held in Thimpu, in April 2010.
Sunita Kohli has thrice served as an elected Member of the Governing Council of the 'Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage' (INTACH). She was a Founder Trustee of the ‘Indo-British 50th Anniversary Trust’, New Delhi; established to commemorate India’s Fiftieth Year of Independence. This private Trust, worked in a catalyst capacity, towards the Restoration of the Gardens of Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi - India’s most important Islamic monument. Instrumental in establishing a role-model partnership between the Archeological Survey of India and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva.
Sunita Kohli has been Chairperson and Founder Trustee of ‘Umang’, a non-government organization that has worked for street and slum children. She is a founder Trustee of ‘Satyagyan’, an affiliate of ‘World Literacy of Canada’, an organization that works in Varanasi and its environs with children’s education, women’s advocacy and women’s empowerment through vocational training. She is Chairperson of the Governing Council of ‘Save-a-Mother’, an NGO which is dedicated to decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates in India. She is a Patron of the Women’s Cancer Initiative – Tata Memorial Hospital, Bombay.
In 2005, Sunita Kohli founded the ‘Museum of Women in the Arts, India’ “to honour women artists of the past, promote the accomplishments of women artists of the present and assure the place of women artists in the future”. This is associated with the ‘National Museum of Women in the Arts’, in Washington DC, where she has also served on their National Advisory Board.
Amongst many institutions in the USA, Sunita Kohli has lectured at Harvard University’s ‘Kennedy School of Government’, Massachusetts and at Emory University, Atlanta. In 2003, she was the first Indian designer/architect invited to lecture at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. She has presented several papers on architecture and architectural conservation, design, literature, traditional Mughal jewellery and most recently on ‘World Heritage Cultural Sites in India: Monumental Statements of Faith and Empire’.
She has been invited to participate in several discussion groups and think-tanks in the USA, on various subjects such as ‘The US and India through Each Other’s Eyes’ and ‘Women as Leaders of Change’. In January 2010, she was invited to The Dubai Forum to speak on ‘Architecture and Sustainability’. In September 2010, she was invited to speak at the inaugural seminar of the ‘Forum in Mauritius’.
Presently, a few books are under print: 'Tanjore Paintings - Golden Icons of South India' and is co-authoring a book on ‘Awadhi Cuisine: From the Jehangirabad Palace Kitchens’ with Jamal Rasool Khan of Jehangirabad. She is also working on a Children’s Series on Indian Culture. The first of these, ‘A Children’s Book on Delhi’s Architecture’ is illustrated by two of her young grandchildren and is scheduled for release in 2013. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA) in England and India and of the ‘Halle Institute of Global Learning’ at Emory University, Atlanta.
For 'The Millennium Book on New Delhi', published by Oxford University Press and released on January 24th 2000 by the President of India in Rashtrapati Bhawan, Sunita Kohli wrote the chapter titled, 'The Creation of a Planned City'.
Sunita Kohli was one of the Literary Festival Coordinators for the first ‘International Festival of Indian Literature’, held in New Delhi and Neemrana Fort in February 2002; under the auspices of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and in partnership with the American Centre, Sahitya Akademi, British Council and Ford Foundation.
In 1992, Sunita Kohli was conferred the Padma Shriby the President of India "for contribution to national life by excellence in the field of Interior Design and Architectural Restoration”. That same year she was presented the Mahila Shiromani Award, which recognizes women of achievement, by Mother Teresa.