Inclined to Intrigue

Its compact size notwithstanding, the Mumbai office of Dev Tech sees plenty of drama, thanks to clever material usage and form-play by brother-sister duo of architect Chintan Patel and interior designer Bhumika Patel of Limited Edition Design Studio.

Text: Rupali Sebastian
Photographs: © 2018 Photographix | Sebastian + Ira; courtesy Limited Edition Design Studio

The reception area is a stunning space, with a bit of magic created by the suspended polygonal acrylic mirror on the ceiling. When viewed from the outside, the old world-style door infuses warmth into the cutting-edge theme of the reception.

When it comes to creating an office which is in one particular line of business or follows one specified strategy, it becomes easier, design-wise, to establish markers within the scheme that subliminally refer to either the company’s work or brand philosophy. But what happens when the workspace belongs to a company that is involved in different lines of business, and needs one space to cater to them all? This was the question siblings Bhumika Patel and Chintan Patel, principal designer and principal architect respectively of Mumbai-based Limited Edition Design Studio, had to tackle when Dev Tech, a city-based business group, approached them for creating a workspace that would serve the entity formed by a merger of four companies. “They have varied sets of clients from different fields,” discloses Bhumika, “so they did not want a theme. They wanted a good working ambience and a space which would create the perfect impression on clients.”

The site was a rectangular brick block with exaggerated linearity, no windows and thus no natural light. The design concept started clarifying once Bhumika and Chintan sat down on the planning. “Being a rectangular space, a linear scheme made the most sense,” says Chintan. The requirement of seating 10 to 12 staff could be fulfilled optimally only when they leveraged the longest axis of the rectangle to put in a corridor-like work bay. Once the position of the general seating was determined, everything else fell into place. “Creating a linear staff seating resulted in a lot of space for other things like the two director cabins, a meeting room for five, a pantry for six and enough file storage in the passage, above the linear desk.” The meeting room was planned at the beginning of the work area as per the clients’ wishes, while the two director cabins were placed at the centre of the office keeping in mind privacy, function and vastu.

A photograph showing the linear and parallel articulation of the spatial programme. The meeting room is to the left, and faces the staff area to the right. Grey concrete textured walls feature a black metal element that spans the ceiling and climbs down the wall, tapering off in the process.

The design team decided to treat the reception — the first impression — in an impactful manner. The height of the reception block was exaggerated through vertical channels on the walls, with the whole effect being multiplied by the reflective canopy of a faceted polygonal acrylic mirror over the reception counter. “The vertical channels and the high-gloss mirror-finished ceiling were the most difficult out of all,” discloses Bhumika when talking about the challenges they faced in this assignment. “But we could achieve all this by creating a detailed project docket. Each channel was numbered, which helped in the installation.”

The channels were fitted on site first and then the lights were fixed in it, taking care that the wires were not visible. In case of the mirrored ceiling, care had to be taken that the edges were straight and that there were no undulations on the surface — which would have ruined the whole effect. “Even a tiny scratch made by a sand particle was visible, so customizing it on a running site was way more difficult than it looks,” smiles the designer. The uneven placement of all the elements of the reception create a bold and spirited composition that gives the space its unique sculptural quality. “Viewed from the outside, the door is completely panelled with Walnut Brenta veneer, in traditional British pattern, which offers a warmer counterpoint to the modern theme of the reception,” says Chintan.

The visual play created by the black metal element that runs from the ceiling to the wall is clearly visible in cabin no 2. The polygonal base of the table echoes the geometry of the metallic strip.

The overall colour palette selected leaned towards the neutral end of the spectrum: grey, brown and white, with hints of blue; and the material list is dominated by wood, carpet, glass (both clear and back-painted) and textured paint. Materially and chromatically, the meeting room and director’s cabin no 2 were treated as one block, and the second director’s cabin and pantry as another — with the four constituents placed in an alternate composition. “We chose glass for the partition abutting the passage for all cabins to lighten the scheme visually; anything solid would have fragmented the whole space and made the office look smaller,” say the siblings. Given the absence of natural light, artificial lighting become vital, and was effected through lights hidden in the vertical channels and spotlights in the reception area; a continuous zig-zag light fitting above the staff area; and track lights and lighting concealed within a metal element running across the ceiling and down the wall in the meeting room.

Repeat business, they say, is the best business. And with the Patel siblings bagging two more assignments from the same clients, we’d say that their dramatic and practical design for this workspace has made some people happy indeed!

To design a workspace that would be engaging and appealing universally, without getting slotted into a theme.

Entrance facade: Glass and walnut Brent veneer
Reception area: Corian (desk); polygonal acrylic mirrors (ceiling); white brick and illuminated channels (walls); and wood (floor)
Meeting room and cabins: Concrete textured paint and back-painted glass (walls); and carpet (floor)
Staff room: Wood (floor); laminate (table-tops); back-painted glass (storage)

Location: Hubtown Solaris, Andheri, Mumbai
Area: 830 sq ft
Seating capacity: 11 (staff) plus 3 (directors)
Principal architects: Bhumika Patel and Chintan Patel
Design team: Bhumika Patel and Chintan Patel
Interior contractor: Bhagwat Sharma
Electricals: Nirbhay Gupta
Painting: Niranjan Yadav