Contemporary Comfort

DesignQuest uses layers, textures and lighting to add depth, dimension and drama to the contemporary shell of beige, brown and white that the Agarwals call home in Mumbai.

Tones of brown and beige accented by blue that mark the entrance to the Agarwal home will find echoes in the interiors too. The door features strips of veneer arranged in panels of reducing dimensions and lightening colour to create the effect of a four-dimensional passage on a two dimensional door.

Ravi Agarwal tells us, “We wanted a home, not a hotel.” It may sound like an odd thing to say, but given the amount of expensive art and artefacts that they own and the 1,750 square feet of carpet area at their disposal, it might have been easy for this home to look and feel like a showcase. The Agarwals wanted a home that was neither classical to the point of being out-dated, nor futuristic to the point of being alien to their traditional Marwari ethos. Simple, comfortable, contemporary and fusion are the words that Ravi uses to describe what he was hoping for when he asked DesignQuest to combine two two-bedroom apartments on the 11th floor of a high rise in North Mumbai into a single space. What’s best is that all of DesignQuest’s ideas were executed by Ravi’s company Admirecon Infrastructure. The home is meant for a joint family that comprises his parents, his wife and their two boys and his younger brother’s family of three.

Perhaps, the best place to start describing this home is at the wall that would have been running right down the centre of the capacious living space had it been two separate spaces. A panel, around five feet in width, runs along the ceiling where the dividing wall would have been, camouflaging the beam whose dimensions were modified to raise the ceiling height. If you’re worried about the structural integrity of a modified beam, stop right there. Apparently, if you interchange the width and height of a beam, its strength remains unchanged as the number of metal rods running through it stays the same. Beyond, above and on either side of this false ceiling panel, are two panels that span the living cum dining area, leaving just enough space for light to flow over their edges. The effect that these panels create is typical of the layering that you will see throughout this home, not only along the ceilings but also along the walls.

The living space is layered with textures. The walls of the right and left wing of the house are distinct in design complimented by vitrified tiles and Italian leather seating.

Now that we’re on the subject, most of the walls in this apartment are load-bearing shear ones, which didn’t leave much room for structural modifications. Just one was moved by a foot and a half to create a temple of sorts for the Radha-Krishna duo that this Vaishnav family worships, as well as a few other divinities of different religious orientations. Hinged doors fold away to let the sacred space merge with the generously-proportioned living cum dining space, when devotees in large numbers visit this home during the Ganesha Puja.

DesignQuest’s desire to create a “welcoming space” took the form of a capacious rectangular living-dining space, which acts as the central circulation space, anchoring this home together, before branching off into the private spaces. Along the breadth of one edge of this rectangle runs a wall clad in dark panels of ply and oak veneer, interrupted by a doorway, which segments the wall into the background for the open dining area and a niched showcase of sorts. The wall parallel to this one, is beige and grey toned, courtesy Marshalls wallpaper which clads the temple door and a rather large river-washed stone panel that houses the equipment of the entertainment space.

The elegant dining space features a blend of materials and textures, with glass showcases and storage space for cutlery inset into a dark veneer-panelled wall, lighter-toned leather and wood seating, a heavy wood and stone table and some tasteful artwork.

The spaces on either side of the central beam mirror each other structurally. So a customized modular kitchen of metal and acrylic in the right wing is balanced by a wood and stone clad bar (that was originally a kitchen) in the left wing. The bar features a waterfall against a wall of chipped granite bars layered horizontally. A table for two in this space is almost reminiscent of those you might find at a riverside cafe. Tones of blue and chocolate make this space bear a stark contrast to the lighter white-walled temple space just across the aisle.

The light tones of the sacred space reappear in the serene and simplistic elegance of the beige and gold grandparents’ room. The minimalist unstructured air of the light-hued grandparents’ room in the right wing is balanced by the functional compartmentalized feel of the kids’ room in the left wing that is its mirror reflection in the blueprint. The accents in the room of the senior-most members of family comprise simple gold-toned vinyl stickers, parallel strips of laser-cut wood, and a sepia painting of a street scene. The children’s room reveals a rather high design and material usage quotient with a leather headboard, designated study tables, two kinds of lights, silver Duco-painted cabinets, a massive walk-in wardrobe, et al. As with the other spaces, there are layers here, too, created by the light behind the headboard in the grandparents room and the interesting ceiling and varying levels of wall storage in the kids room.

There’s a lot happening in the tiny bar, from the wood grain in the flooring and the zig-zagging false ceiling to the laser-cut tree in the bar counter and a water-feature flowing over hand-chiselled granite. The tones of blue, brown and beige at the entrance to the home are replicated here.

The bedrooms which occupy the extremes of each wing are as distinct as the two brothers and their wives that inhabit them. While one has sedate tones of dark chocolate and the night sky, the other is filled with colour and toys that mark the presence of a toddler. A bunk bed pulls out of the larger bed, occupying the space beneath a wood-wrapped false ceiling that was earlier demarcated as a relaxing space. Both bedrooms are similar in their usage of a multiplicity of materials. While one bedroom has a hand-carved walnut wood headboard and a gypsum-clad wall with textured paint, the other boasts a massive box bed and a dark wood wrap of oak, and wooden chattai in the wardroom doors.

A box bed and a box window, a backlit veneered wooden wrap, a grainy mica-paper clad wall, textured drawers, a curved oak stand for the entertainment devices — it could have been an overdose, but it works somehow.

The basic colour palette of brown, white and beige, which ties the space together also acts as a great backdrop for accents of colour, pattern and texture. The furniture, textured walls and artefacts fit in seamlessly, as if the home was built for them, rather than the other way round. Detailing appears to be an important component of DesignQuest’s work… from the recessed kitchen skirting and the grooves in the wall panelling to the fusion of textures within the wardrobe shutter panels and the use of hand chiselled stone.

DesignQuest’s penchant for detailing and customization is always balanced by its determination to stay within the clients’ time and finance budgets while giving them designer spaces that they are proud to call their own as you’ve seen in the Agarwal home.

CONCEPT
Contemporary fusion with liberal and varied usage of materials, textures and detailing against a simplistic white, brown and beige colour palette.

MATERIALS
Flooring 32 in x 32 in vitrified tiles Washrooms Mosaics (Samir Ceramics), Bianco beige marble walls, Italian marble finish tiles Walls Natural stone cladding (river-washed granite for the TV wall in the living space), paint (Asian Paints), wallpaper (Marshalls), veneer (smoked oak and fumed walnut)

FACT FILE
Client Ravi Agarwal and family Location Goregaon (W), Mumbai Size 1,750 sq ft (carpet area) Principal designer Harshal Desai Design team DesignQuest Project execution Admirecon Infrastructure Duration 8 Months Project completion October 2011

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