Bound by Art

Honouring the occupant’s appreciation for local art and craft and their ties to the textile industry, interior designers Mayur Mangukiya and Ankit Sojitra of Studio 17 curate a rich residential haven in Surat that makes ancient traditions relevant to modern living.

Text: Carol Ferrao
Photographs: Photographix India, courtesy Studio 17

Interior designers Mayur Mangukiya and Ankit Sojitra

Working with a client with an impressive background and an acute design sense, coupled with an equally fascinating site, can inspire you to rise above the conventional and experiment with design in a whole new way. For interior designers Mayur Mangukiya and Ankit Sojitra, founders of Surat-based Studio 17, creating textile business owner Hitesh Gajera’s new residence was an opportunity to merge local craft with global aspirations. The fact that the site exuded luxury even in its bare form — it was spacious and had a generous ceiling to floor ratio — was an added bonus. The young, dynamic Studio 17 was founded in 2017, with both Mayur and Ankit valuing “formal simplicity” by integrating art and design with an experimental bent.

This residence (christened Celestial Dreams by the designers) therefore is more than a new project in their portfolio — it is the duo’s design ethos brought to life. The client’s brief for Studio 17 was for a roomy dwelling for his family of five and his appreciation for a grey and green palette. Bringing in the element of art was key in representing the client’s connection to the textile industry in Jetpur, Gujarat, which is popular for its Bandhini production.

The client’s love for textile and traditional arts like Bandhini and the use of veneer, stone, wood and glass as the main material palette is evident in the spacious living, dining and kitchen area. Traditional paintings can be found adorning the walls as well as the ceiling.

Given the squared floor plan, the home maintains a straightforward axis in terms of room allotment and circulation. Once you pass the niche foyer, you enter the spacious and open formal and informal living areas, the dining and the kitchen. One enters into the formal living room, with the informal living area diagonally opposite to it. The dining area is set in the centre and is placed close to the open kitchen. “The plan is set in such a manner that all the areas look spacious but won’t lose their connectivity through the house. The purpose of giving two living areas in different areas was essentially to maintain this connectivity,” explain the designers. Meanwhile, three bedrooms — excluding the guest bedroom — are carefully planned with walk-in closets and washrooms along the C-shaped axis of the house, each enjoying their own private nook in the design scheme.

In the formal living room, contemporary furniture from China sit perfectly in the midst of the customised artwork in earthy tones with patterns that are inspired from traditional, tribal art.

Each living space follows the grids derived from characteristics of the building ensuring optimum use of space, point out Mayur and Amit as they walk through the interiors, which they describe as “open, light, modern, natural, and old and new at the same time.” The house also follows the principles of vastu which informs the positions of the bed, toilet, kitchen, and the puja room.

While the planning is linear and simple, the design takes on the ambitious concept of reinterpreting Bandhini art through a geometric lens by incorporating intricate details across the house — from wall panels, ceilings to even the floor. “These geometric patterns were derived from Bandhej, which is a traditional method of resist-dyeing that is practiced in Rajasthan and Gujarat since ancient times. Bandhini of Jamnagar, Jetpur, Mandvi and Bhuj are famous for their intricate patterns,” share the duo. They also tried to incorporate the five elements of nature “through certain manipulation” within the design, resulting in a contemporary house built using veneer, stone, wood and glass.

When you enter the living room, the panelled wall finished in veneer and brass captures your attention instantly. The geometric pattern is an abstract play of motifs seen in Bandhini print.

At the foyer, the Italian marble floor features brass inserts shaped in squares and circles, arranged in an order that seems to weave a story along with the series of vibrant Panch Tantva art on the wall. A frosted glass cubicle, which appears like a dense indoor garden owing to its foliage-like print, separates the living area from this entrance and the puja room. Arches typical of Indian temples create a traditional vibe at the latter and the minimalist white finish lets focal elements like the sacred figures and prayer scripts stand out. For instance, the crown area features a Shiv Yantra and the main arch has shlokas inscribed on it, giving life to the client’s beliefs and culture within the home.

In the main living areas — along with central dining and open kitchen — a sea of neutral colours like grey, camel, and black ensure the artistic concept shines through. The formal area features a series of customised abstract, traditional art in earthy yet vibrant tones — colours the designers have paired in the bedrooms too. The focus on art shifts from the walls to the ceilings in the informal space where the otherwise flushed ceiling showcases backlit panels featuring radiant motifs inspired by Bandhej art. “The idea behind placing it on the ceiling and not on the wall was to play with the height while also breaking the stereotype of using paintings on walls alone,” share the designers.

At the entrance foyer, art based on the Panch Tantva and details such as the brass inlay on the Italian marble floor give a glimpse of the conceptual design of the house. A frosted glass cubicle in green divides the living space from the foyer and the puja room.

Balancing these extravagant details, the dining and kitchen areas are curated as ultra-modern nooks with marble, its natural veins lending a luxurious flourish. The dining table was customised in-house and features an MS plate and copper base with Brazilian stone as the tabletop. A hanging pendant light with an attached planter completes the ambience. The open kitchen — which was introduced in the new layout by the designers — is cladded with neolith tiles. Designed and built by Studio 17 itself, the kitchen’s sophisticated black and grey interiors stand in perfect contrast to the artsy living spaces. An island with a breakfast counter both unites and separates the two spaces.

Rare and precious, the monolith Brazilian granite with its symphony of natural veins — alluding to the tie-dye technique in some way — makes a stunning backdrop in the formal living area.

When it came to the bedrooms, individual preferences of the occupants impacted the design language with a special emphasis on a clutter-free look. The designers mention, “The only requirement of the client was to make their bedroom spacious, which was fulfilled by combining two rooms into one whole master room with an attached toilet leading you towards a walk-in closet.” Hints of green through the furnishing and bed panels characterise the master bed. The room also features a striking Brazilian stone wall with brass and veneer details, which serves as a grand backdrop for the bed and the side units perched on a raised platform. A frosted glass and white oak wood partition separates this room from the washroom and a walk-in closet that is almost as big as the bedroom itself.

The straightforward, open kitchen features Neolith tiles as the countertop, which is contrasted by the hanging stainless steel and glass unit over the island counter.

In the kids’ room, the designers stayed away from cliched aesthetics associated with a specific age. Instead, they created a monochromatic space with just the right pop of colour that would allow its growing occupants to customise the space based on new likes and interests. Like other bedrooms, this too is kept capacious by avoiding large volumes of wardrobe and opting for walk-in closets instead. A sleek book storage unit extends into a study table where a magnetic glass is used as backsplash, with a vector of the world map and weekly planner on it, “The kids needed a room with a study unit, smart devices and a shelf to display their stuff. It was an interesting job to balance the study along with maintaining harmony in the room. For smart devices, we provided built-in charging pods on the side drawer top. For more interest, we added paintings in primary colours,” explain the designers.

Floor to ceiling drapes in cream heighten the sense of space in the master bedroom which features a Brazilian stone backdrop with intricate brass and veneer inlay work. The store-bought bed has been personalised with a custom-built side unit on a raised, elongated platform.

When it comes to the mother’s room, clean, light tones are contrasted with a collage of traditional fabrics which accentuates the design without overpowering it. Each of the three individual washrooms follow the same material palette, cladded completely in marble with brass detail. Linear striped partitions separate the bath from the wardrobe and dressing areas.

Fusing traditional art with modern sensibilities, the guest room features a hand-painted Masai artwork on the wall, next to the plates depicting Rogan art designs. The room is distinguished by its pastel sea green palette, seen mostly on the custom-built plywood furniture finished with PU paint.

Given the details that required careful execution and excellent skilled labour, it comes as a surprise when Mayur and Ankit let us in on an interesting trivia about the home — it was completed in just seven months. This dream home not only honours the cultural identity of the client but also invites others to appreciate the beauty of a local craft with a fresh, new perspective, making it a living proof of Studio 17’s commitment to their artistic values.

A spacious home that celebrates traditional Bandhini art but retains its modernity courtesy a sophisticated, contemporary material palette.

Floor: Smoke grey Italian marble
Walls: Veneer
Ceiling: Gypsum
Partitions: Frosted glass and white oak wood

Project: Celestial Dreams
Client: Hitesh Gajera
Location: Surat, Gujarat
Area: 4,532 sq ft
Principal designers: Mayur Mangukiya and Ankit Sojitra
Design team: Dixit Narola, Radhika Savani, Uttam Chauhan, Dhruvik Panwala, Nency Sakariya, Arshit Khunt and Rahul Gajera
Carpenter: Poonambhai
Electrician: Kishorbhai Javia
Stone Work: Madhav Construction (Bipin Chauhan)
Paint Work: Guddubhai Landscape That’s it Nursery, Nashik
Fabrication: Pareshbhai Makwana
Plumber: Irfanbhai