Kickin’ the blues…

Taking a break from hospitality projects, interior designer Minnie Bhatt turns her attention to a media office — And Beyond Media — in Mumbai. While quirky and energetic, as one would expect of a workspace in such a creative industry, it showcases a definite, individualistic personality that sets it apart.

Text: Carol Ferrao
Photographs: Prashant Bhat, courtesy Minnie Bhatt Designs

Envisioned as a vibrant, quirky, unconventional and inviting space, the And Beyond Media office is a haven for creatively-inclined individuals.

How often do you come across an office space that is bathed in natural light and is spacious despite its dense programme, especially in a city like Mumbai? The new office of And Beyond Media, located in the packed suburb of Andheri, is one such pleasant aberration. It’s the kind of space you’d look forward to heading to despite the manic traffic or Monday blues. And the person responsible for such an inspiring space? None other than interior designer Minnie Bhatt who heads Mumbai-based Minnie Bhatt Designs.

Though Minnie is known for her hospitality projects, she has proved that her passion for good design can encompass diverse programs. “We have designed close to 50 restaurants and bars, and wanted to explore projects in other sectors too. We had worked on a corporate office almost two years ago and this project came across as an unconventional and younger space, which is what interested and prompted us to take it up,” shares the designer.

The work area is marked by three zones; a large workstation in the center, suspended desks at the periphery and another set towards either end of the large space.

Adding to the thrill of the project was the fact that the office had to be designed from scratch in a bare space — an advantageous blank canvas that was made better by a unique quality it possessed. “The space has natural light from all sides which is very rare,” mentions Minnie about her first encounter with the site. Evolving a design concept with these big plus points looked promising, however, the design team also had to take into account the fairly large ducts on two ends of the space and the toilet block that could not be relocated. The design had to adhere to a well-defined budget as well, but Minnie clarifies that, “the clients did approve additional costs for elements that enhanced the design of the space.”

Vibrant, quirky, unconventional and inviting — these were the parameters set by the client for their new workspace. For a media office, such a design brief is, in fact, de rigeuer, making the task at hand even more challenging. The space needed to be distinctive without being imitative, quirky but not predictable or kitschy, and inviting without compromising on practicality. In response, Minnie decided to follow “no particular genre,” instead choosing to sync bright colours — adventurously, we may add — with warm wooden tones and raw cement to create a contemporary space that is full of surprises.

Not part of the original layout, this corner space evolved during the spatial planning to provide for an inviting nook for employees to chat, read or just relax.

From the moment you step into the office, you appreciate the airy and capacious vibe. The elevators open into the reception, which has two doors on either side, one leading to the breakout area and the other into the workspace. A metal and wood planter, acting as a partition, screens the main work zone and looks alluring bathed in filtered sunlight.

On entering the workspace, you find the meeting rooms placed to the right and washrooms to the left. A glass divider separates it from the breakout area, which has an indoor and outdoor section. The work zone has three sections: a large community workstation in the middle, suspended workstations towards the glazing and another style of workstations at either end of the space. “The workstations are greater in number than currently required keeping in mind the company’s expansion plans,” Minnie explains.

An extension to the break-out area: A patio-style ambience is created with a rocking chair, swing chairs and dining tables.

Thoughtful planning and cheerful aesthetics coupled with an abundance of diffused natural light creates an ambience that is conducive to productivity. The designer muses, “The abundance of natural light in any space is always a joy to work with, and, in this case, makes every workstation appealing to sit at.” The choice to add suspended workstations adjacent to the window has engendered an added sense of lightness that makes the office look larger while maintaining the atypical design concept.Between the main office space and the recreational zone, there is a fine balance between work and play. Both are generously proportioned and both intrinsic to the work culture at And Beyond Media. The design embraces colours without inhibition, yet there is harmony in the final palette. Minnie explains, “The colour palette is independent of the logo colours, which are yellow and purple. We wanted to create a vibrant office that was colourful but not overtly so. We balanced shades of blue, green, yellow and a few others in the same depth of tone to offset the wooden table tops and the grey cement floor.”

Created according to the designer’s specifications, the plus-sign light fixture on the ceiling symbolizes ‘more’ and has an intentional graphic-like appeal.

As for quirk, there’s plenty of it: turquoise pipes act as old-fashioned electrical conduits near the workstations, whimsical wall art at almost every corner lends a friendly vibe, scooter seating in the dining area and an amphitheater-style breakout space makes for interesting social spots. There’s even a small DJ console for the CEO when he switches his role to a DJ on weekends!

With red and black stools arranged in a plywood box, the stacking unit appears like a wall art in the outdoor section.

Between the workspace and the recreational zone, there is a fine balance between work and play. Both generously proportioned and both intrinsic to the work culture at And Beyond Media. Minnie has used her hospitality design background to her advantage, while also being cautious about it. We notice that she has shown prudence in design where needed (evident in the sleek but inviting workspace) and exaggerated the design where it was called for (elaborate wall details and highlights). Not all modern office can mitigate the Monday to Friday grind with its design but And Beyond Media definitely makes a worthwhile attempt at it — and most likely succeeds too.

An unconventional office space that follows “no particular genre” but still creates a harmonious atmosphere where creativity and productivity can thrive.

Floor: IPS, laminated wood, artificial turf
Walls: Cement Plaster
Display Unites: Wood and back painted glass
Partitions: Toughened glass
Furniture: Wooden finger boards, steel powder coated pedestal storage

Project: Living in the lap of nature
Location: Ahmedabad
Area: 10,800 sq ft
Built area: 7,000 sq ft
Principal architect: Ashish Kesurvala
Design team: Jinal Kantharia, Trupti Shah
Fabricator: HIFAB aluminum