Dome Drama

Architect Akshay Heranjal of The Purple Ink Studio creates an arresting interior design plan for a flagship fabric retail showroom AD Retail in Bengaluru, which draws one in with its grand design yet imperceptibly guides one to further experience the various displays.

A view of the AD Retail showroom from the reception with the arch, which was constructed on-site, dominating the design. Cabinets in the central area hold catalogues while upholstery display rolls can be seen on the wall at the end.

Though neither probably knew it at the time, it was a chance meeting between Anil Jain, the owner of Anil Drapes and Akshay Heranjal, the principal architect of The Purple Ink Studio, which culminated into a meaningful collaboration. The owner had interacted with Akshay at a mutual client’s office and casually discussed his plans to open a retail store. He had a wholesale fabric company, and wished to venture into the retail sector by opening a store at their existing warehouse and office premise. His brief to Akshay was to break away from a stereotypical format and design a space with an upbeat and contemporary spirit.

On visiting the site, Akshay realized that designing the AD Retail (acronym of Anil Drapes) showroom would be a challenge as the space was part of the warehouse that would continue to function during execution. There was also the limited scale of the project and space constraints to contend with.

The architect therefore used the existing structural grid to plan the store and constructed a wall to divide the retail space from the warehouse. This later functioned as a product display too. The modest 650-square-foot space was visualized to be dominated by a main arch, the strong geometry of which would create the setting for a dramatic display. The challenge however was to utilize the space to its full potential in terms of the exhibits. “The design was hence planned to juxtapose the elements on display with
the interior layout, making it seamless,” informs Akshay.

The arch is entirely structured in wood and finished to appreciate the natural grains and takes a colossal monolithic form to bring the interiors together. The walls are constructed in exposed wire-cut bricks, and the floor and part of the display furniture in exposed concrete finish. Although the overall material palette is natural and modern in approach, the furniture responds to the elements of a bygone era and adds colour and a tinge of ornamentation to the overall minimalistic design scheme. Some of the pieces here are part of the client’s portfolio from when he began diversifying into customized furniture and carpets.

The main entrance door. The logo, designed by a graphic designer, has been incorporated as the solid wood handle on the backdrop of the traditional jaali pattern etching on the glass door.

The arch occupies the central space, keeping the walls free to display wares. As one enters the store, the interiors break up fluidly into a waiting cum discussion area with upholstery display stands at the back, a central area to showcase catalogues and a full-size curtain display and the reception, each of which carefully intertwine the materials on display within the interior design allowing the shopper the freedom to get a look-and-feel all around the retail space.

Even through the arch is the defining design element here, some of the other finer details include the logo of the store and the door at the entrance. “We collaborated with a graphic designer for the logo. This was planned to become the handle made in solid wood and embellished with an etching of a traditional jaali pattern on the main glass door. We also collaborated with a local artist who designed the logo as a piece of art made in thread that is placed on the exposed brick wall behind the reception,” elaborates Akshay.

In its entirety, the success of the project was a result of the client’s trust in the team. While he had a vision for his new venture, he allowed the design to be experimental and was very supportive during the construction phase — the arch, for example, was completely handmade on site. The unconditional support of the client coupled with the strong design ethos of the architect helped in transforming rustic warehouse walls into a store that celebrates good design and its products in equal measure.

Project AD Retail
Client Anil Jain (Anil Drapes)
Location Bengaluru Area 650 sq ft
Principal architect Akshay Heranjal
Design team Priyanka Bankapur, Jaikumar V
Interior contractors MM Interiors, Mumbai