Style Unlimited

Using a curated selection of interior products from the company’s extensive portfolio, architect Hiral Jobalia of Hiral Jobalia Studio designs a clean-edged, modern and sophisticated office for Sources Unlimited in Mumbai.

Text: Rupali Sebastian
Photographs: © 2018 Photographix | Sebastian + Ira

The entrance facade is delineated with a delicate wooden lattice crafted using the Japanese Chidori technique. The translucent glass hints at the design within.

A client who has brought uber-luxe international furniture, lighting, surface finishes and accessories to the Indian market. The task: to design an office for them, using the products they deal in. For a designer, it sounds like a really interesting assignment, given that fact that they’d have some of the world’s well-regarded brands literally at their fingertips. But for architect Hiral Jobalia, who did land an assignment of this nature, the reality was a little different. “We had to make sure that the office didn’t end up looking like a showroom,” says the principal of Hiral Jobalia Studio, which was tasked with creating an office for Sources Unlimited, a company which has brought brands such as Georgetti, De Castelli and Rimadesio to the Indian market since 2005. “The client’s brief was to bring a level of sophistication to the working space and also to underplay the design so as to give more emphasis to their products. Our job became to curate their offerings so that it came together in a meaningful way rather than looking mindlessly propped.”

As the 3,000-square-foot site was located in a new building, the design team got working on a bare shell. The spatial configuration of the rectangular space was quite simple: a reception block, followed by cabins, meeting rooms and departments such as the accounts section arranged in two bays, separated by a passage. The far end was allotted to a sizeable main cabin. “The space division was obviously dictated by the client’s requirements. But one important factor was the creation of a sampling room, a dedicated space where customers could make decisions connected to aspects such as finishes and fabrics once they had made up their mind over a certain product,” reveals Hiral.

The functions are arranged in two parallel bays in the rectangular office. Departments that need a bit of privacy — accounts, a meeting room, the pantry — are shielded by an aluminium and glass sliding partition from Rimadesio called Sail, yet another Giuseppe Bavuso design.

Aside from the fact that the office could not look like a showcase for the company’s products, the second most challenging aspect of the project was that it had to be Vaastu compliant. “We had to be very conscious of colour placements, materials…,” says the architect who loves exploring materials, forms and colours to innovative ends. The final look and feel was a comfortable decor with neutral colours, mostly beige and grey.

While attention to detail is a quality that pervades the entire project, there are three instances that especially stand out. The entrance facade lattice has been crafted using the Japanese joinery technique of Chidori, which uses unique joints to assemble objects. Secondly, the brass accents — delicate legs for drawer units and built-in handles for storage shutters — seen in the furniture of the main cabin, whose walls are lined in a copper mosaic from Italian company De Castelli. And then, there are the metal lattice panels — featuring a matrix of miniature arches — that are positioned in front of the fabric-lined walls of the conference room to prevent a tedious “flatness” from creeping into the decor.

The main cabin at the office looks more like a lounge owing to the elegant Giorgetti Drive Sofa and the stunning matte copper tiles from De Castelli that clad part of its wall.

Lighting was resolved very carefully, especially in the sampling and conference rooms (the latter also displays products). “Accent and task lighting is designed as per specifications in these rooms so that the colour temperature was exact to view the products,” discloses the architect. Lights were sourced from companies such as Igguzini, LED Linear and XAL.

Full of painstakingly resolved details and innovative use of materials, the Sources Unlimited office succeeds in its dual aim of being a productive workspace and
a subtle showcase of the company’s line of products.

CONCEPT
To create an efficient office that would also subtly showcase the products the company dealt in.

MATERIALS
Entrance facade: Glass and wood
Reception wall panelling: Coloured veneer
Sliding partition near pantry: Aluminium and glass
Floor in main workstation area: Carpet and marble
Storage in main workstation area: Stone and wood veneers
Wall cladding in main cabin: Matte copper tiles and veneer
Floor in main cabin: Engineered oak wood
Wall cladding in washrooms: Travertine

FACT FILE
Project: Sources Unlimited office
Location: Mumbai
Area: 3,000 sq ft
Principal architect: Hiral Jobalia