Joining Forces

Design Office gives a new meaning to mix-and-match interiors in this 3,000-square-foot Mumbai apartment.


The large living space is segregated into formal and informal sections by furniture groups rather than physical partitions.

Up and away, on the twenty second floor, far from the cacophony that accompanies the creation of new highrises, lies Tapasvi and Preet Bhargava’s breeze-cooled home. Awash with a generous pouring of natural light, the home wears understated luxury nonchalantly, courtesy the Design Office, headed by Rishita Das and Rushda Hakim, in collaboration with Rohit Bhoite.

Working in tandem to seamlessly join two separate apartments into one was only a small part of the creative brief. The bigger challenge was to create a suitable home-away-from-home for the young couple, all the while intricately weaving together two disparate design briefs. “Where Preet veered towards an Indian look, Tapasvi was keen on a more luxe, straight-lined one,” reveals Rushda. The amalgamation of the two philosophies lead to the creation of what Rishita terms the ‘Indian luxe’ style.

This is the formal setting of the main hall. The antique wood chest in the centre makes for an alluring centre table. Low, divan-style seating of the single seats is combined with the high-backed regality of the four-seater sofa. A champagne-leafed niche eliminates the need for wall accessories.

A charming slatted bench with a woven seat, in the traditional strand caning style, welcomes you at the threshold of the home. Heavy teak doors open to reveal a small entrance passage that splits into two: one part leads into the guest bedroom, while the other heads to the capacious main hall. The latter comprises two separate settings — the formal and informal living areas — created by furniture placements and rugs. These, in turn, lead to the dining area, and the bar and balcony. Champagne leafing on the cross-section of a wall and an old wood chest cum centre table, picked up at the antique market, identifies the formal living area. Further on from here, the dining niche has been created by enclosing a balcony with glass walls, making it ideal for cosy meals. The informal section of the living room is ruled by low sectional sofa-style seating facing the bar.

Off-white, ivory and cream are the predominant hues of both settings, and they have been effortlessly juxtaposed in the relief-patterned POP ceiling, the upholstery, the composite marble floor, as well as the carved-stone tile feature wall that ties the two seating arrangements. Explains Rishita, “Since carved stone is synonymous with most Indian monuments, we decided to use this stone tile here. To make it more interesting, the wall has been hemmed in with tall slate planters on either side.”

Set against the glass-walled front, the dining area has a backdrop of maintenance-free, crushed cotton curtains. The table is made entirely of wood and the dining chairs hark back to the 1960s retro-Scandinavian design style.

For a home that receives natural light for most part of the day, it was a bit of a challenge to arrange artificial lighting so as to not disrupt the ideal brightness level. To overcome the Catch-22-like situation, the designers used wall-washers along with focus lighting. “Since there was so much natural light, our lighting design concentrated on emphasizing design features rather than worrying about lumen levels,” says Rushda. The dining table per se, during evening, receives illumination from Kevin Reilly’s Altar Light suspended over it. “It is often used without the general lights in that space,” reveals Rishita. Ambient light has been created by vertical wall-washers ensconced on columns that demarcate the entry to the dining area. During the day, the strong dose of daylight is reduced with the help of sheer curtains. Though the living and dining areas are glamorous in their own right, the most interesting part of the living space is the powder room that services it. Its highlight is a glamourous, multi-faceted (and therefore disorienting) mirror, which contrasts well with the custom-made Corian basin and counter, as well as the metallic-hued wall tiles.

A multifaceted mirror creates a stunning effect in the power room attached to the main hall. Metallic wall tiles surround the single-piece Corian washbasin.

In contrast to the living areas, Tapasvi and Preet’s sanctum, their private lounge area and master bedroom (they share a wall), is a study in textures and patterns. While golden champagne leafing decorates the moulding of the ceilings, the walls wear coffee colour, and the floor is clad in herringbone-patterned hardwood. Cove, niche and lamps with yellow lights bring warmth to this combination space. A cantilevered desk in the lounge area serves as the work top as well as a utility surface. One side of the lounge cum bedroom space houses a deep, seven-foot-long walk-in closet.
Neat wooden fretwork, cushioned on burgundy raw silk, forms the shutters of this closet. The second bedroom is dressed in subdued colours, and accessorization is mainly
in the form of a laser-cut MS inlay on the sandstone floor. Linear engravings on the wood shutters of the cupboard reflect the simple lines of this space.

All exterior spaces have slate flooring, keeping in mind the vast tracts of farmland and low hills visible in the distance. Paying conscious heed to the importance of negative space, so important in a crowded city, Rushda and Rishita have attributed this home with an uncluttered design.

To create a second home for a young couple, who wanted the best of Indian and Western design. This was to be achieved by teaming the clean and simple lines with the textures, colours, and materials of the Indian design culture.

Floors Composite marble, sandstone, slate and vitrified tiles Walls Paint, champagne leafing, metallic wall tiles, sandstone and composite marble Ceilings Paint, POP and champagne leafing Lights, furniture and accessories Customized for the client

Design firm Design Office (Rishita Das and Rushda Hakim) Total area 3,000 sq ft (approximately) Project completion May 2011

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