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[Print] Mumbai: Silver Linings Playbook

María Isabel Jiménez León and Kayzad Shroff have an uncanny knack for making the best of a bad bargain. Even if said bad bargain is followed by another, and then another. When the architects and co-founders of Mumbai-based multidisciplinary studio SHROFFLEóN took up the re(design) reins for an apartment on Mumbai’s Pedder Road, they couldn't have imagined the unlikely challenges that would follow. For one, a global pandemic. But also, a crumbling building, an overzealous building manager, and a Vincenzo de Cottis dining table that would refuse to fit through the lift. “Whatever could go wrong, did,” jokes Kayzad. But there were some exceptions, including an interior that took on a life of its own, thanks to some clever sleights of hand and elements that were at once dark and light, easy and elevated, dramatic and discrete.

[Print] Mumbai: Between Stroke and Sea

Interior designer Shabnam Gupta recalls many details from that first visit, but none more distinctly than the view that greeted her when she stepped inside. “We were enthralled,” recalls the founder and principal of The Orange Lane of the skyrise Mumbai apartment in question. “We could see the city, the mangroves and the sea. It was a 180-degree view.” What she also saw, in due course, was the potential to mirror that magic indoors. The clients, a well-travelled couple with a young child, had a sizeable art collection—one so impressive that Shabnam saw an opportunity to match, if not surmount, the vista by giving it equal pride of place.

[Print] Cover Story // Kozhikode: Water Under the Bridge

About fourteen kilometres east of Kozhikode, atop a knoll in the leafy town of Kunnamangalam, is a home that appears suspended between water and sky. And yet, its state of levitation, curious as it is, isn’t merely physical. It’s a metaphorical halfway point between people and place, nature and nest, that still, somehow, feels whole. “The owners already had two homes but wanted this one to be different, with an open layout and traditional elements, and water bodies and greenery on either side of the threshold,” says Sham Salim, one half of Kozhikode-based multidisciplinary practice aslam.sham architects. “So it made sense to take cues from the landscape,” finishes the firm’s other half, Aslam Karadan. And so they did.

[Print] Ambala: So Chocolatey!

A cinnamon-speckled stairway. Eclair-like pillars. Decadent chocolate-slab walls that melt away into oblivion. These are the things that define one residence in Ambala. And yet, the home’s gastronomic allusions aren’t the only things worth noting. Its volumes rise and fall and rise again, in big brutalist sweeps, signalling something new around every corner. “By incorporating a sense of architectural movement, we wanted to inspire a spirit of homeliness and have the home hold a mirror to its evolving inhabitants,” says Sanjay Arora, one half of father-and-son architecture and interior design consultancy Renesa Design Studio, who was tasked with designing the home for a family of four along with the firm’s other half, Sanchit.

[Print] Kolkata: Something Nice from London

Brothers Swastic and Satwic Ruia have always had an appreciation for the finer things in life, although theirs is a brand of quiet luxury that teeters on minimalist. Their home in Kolkata’s Ballygunge, a two-storey bungalow they share with their families, is a shining example. Designed like a modern English apartment, with vanilla cream tones, classic moulding and gilt-edged accents, it’s a postcard from Mayfair that the Ruias have no plans of returning (nor do they need to). “The brief was short—to keep things simple and timeless,” say the brothers, who enlisted principals Shivani Ajmera and Disha Bhavsar, and team members Parth Shah and Govind Jangid, of Mumbai-based Quirk Studio for the interior design, giving them free rein over the creative process.

[Print] Ahmedabad: House of Curves

No matter who the client or what the brief, architects Jwalant and Kanika Mahadevwala, co-founders and principals of Ahmedabad-based andblack design studio, always find a way off the beaten path. Their latest project, an apartment on Ahmedabad’s Ambli Bopal Road, is no exception. With undulating wooden screens, amorphous lighting fixtures and furniture that mimics the movement of water, the interior flows like a meandering river, turning unexpectedly around every corner.

[Print] California: Candy-Coloured Oasis

In California’s Yucca Valley, where dry deserts lord over the land, colour can be hard to come by. For anyone but Leah Ring. “My personality is very bright and I love bold colours,” says the designer and principal of Los Angeles-based interior design studio Another Human. Her 1000-square-foot desert home, designed as a pied-à-terre for herself and her husband, artist Adam de Boer, is proof. An eye-popping kaleidoscope of colour, there are no two rooms alike.

[Print] Bangalore: Home is Where the Heart Is

Few places hold a candle to the beauty of Coorg. Fewer still equal it in spirit. And yet, one penthouse in the green bylanes of Bengaluru’s Cooke Town is an exception on both counts. With verdant pocket gardens, plenty of timber and stone, and a decidedly breezy air, the interior is a considered reimagination of a traditional Coorg plantation home and a reflection of the owners' Kodava heritage. The present-day version, however, is a fairly recent occurrence. When the homeowners, both lawyers, acquired it a few years ago, its thirty-year-old bones were in desperate need of restoration. In a bid to help them revive the place, and to make it slightly more liveable, they tapped interior designer Vinithra Amarnathan, founder and principal of Bengaluru-based design studio Weespaces, but not before presenting her with a shortlist of images capturing the wonders of their native land.

[Print] Chennai: Drama in the Details

Designer Farah Agarwal is no stranger to abstract design briefs. Nor is she particularly ruffled by them. “Not at all—the more abstract, the better,” muses the founder and principal of Chennai-based interior design studio Chestnut Storeys, who had her philosophy put to the test a few years ago, when she was approached by a young couple, Vilok and Divya Parekh, to design their 4,000-square-foot apartment. “I remember their brief, at least initially, contained just three words: ‘Panels, Patterns and Purpose’,” adds Farah. “And while the first two were straightforward enough to action, the last one was left open to interpretation.”

[Print] Raising the Bar: This Rooftop Terrace is a Dazzling Escape by Starlight

During the day, Pallavi Chanamolu and Prasad Yerneni’s terrace remains camouflaged against the city. Only when the sun goes down and the moon makes an appearance does it glitter to life, its sparkling pendants and antique artefacts holding a mirror to the twilight, and later, to the abiding stars. “As the space was going to be used mostly in the evenings, we blended the built form into the environment,” says Varsha Reddy, co-founder and principal of Hyderabad-based NaaV Studio, who was tapped by Pallavi and Prasad to give their terrace a fun(ctional) makeover.

[Print] Meet the Makers: Pavitra Rajaram and Bharat Floorings & Tiles

Seven years ago, on a boat ride to Alibaug, designer Pavitra Rajaram and Bharat Floorings & Tiles Vice Chairman Firdaus Variava pondered a collaboration in passing. By the time they disembarked, the idea became a thought. But for the next seven years, it had little room to grow. That changed in 2020. To mark the centenary celebrations of Bharat Floorings & Tiles, Firdaus was keen to launch a special centennial collection. And that long-ago conversation with Pavitra seemed like a wonderful thing to manifest. “We were looking for someone to do a spectacular collaboration with, someone whom we loved and respected enormously and who would give us timeless designs—and who better for this than Pavitra?” he says.

[Print] Cover Story, Mar '23 // Kolkata: Where Magic Dwells

On a tree-lined avenue in one Kolkata suburb, is an apartment that could well have tumbled out of an art gallery. Or a haveli. Or a postcard from an alternate realm. And yet, when Pooja Bihani dreamed up the design for the home, she was inspired by none of these places. "Instead, I was inspired by the number five, because it symbolises the number of members in the family," muses the founder and principal of Kolkata-based interior design firm Spaces and Design. Of course, the inspiration was also the response to a very specific brief: to design a space that would hold an enduring novelty for the homeowners and their three kids. For Pooja, then, the priority was conjuring that permanent sense of magic.

[Print] Mumbai: Through the Looking Glass

In one Mumbai living room, in the suburb of Prabhadevi, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link appears like a postcard magicked to life. Only, unlike in a postcard, this scene isn’t permanent. It changes by the hour, or the blink, depending on the day. The only thing that doesn’t change is the 20-foot-long window through which it is viewed. “It was this constant ebb and flow from sunrise to sunset that inspired the story of the home,” says Anjali Mody, creative director of Goa-based design practice JOSMO, who was tapped by the homeowners, Shael and Samiksha Oswal, to design their newly acquired home in Prabhadevi.

[Print] Name to Know: Thierry Journo

When Thierry Journo named his lifestyle brand IDLI, he wasn't paying homage to the much-loved South Indian breakfast food. Instead, he was tipping his hat to the country in which it was born. "Not many people know that it's simply an acronym for 'I Do Love India'," says the Tunis-born designer. The son of French-Italian parents, he spent the first six years of his life in Tunisia, before moving with his family to Paris, where he completed his schooling. As he got older, it was clear to him that his interest lay in art, more specifically in art history. He thought: what better place to learn it than the Louvre?

[Print] Mumbai: Made to Order

Bhavya Parekh and Nirav Nirmal, interior designers and co-founders of Pan Design Studio, are no strangers to carte blanche briefs. So when a 50-something bachelor, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur whose office they had previously designed, approached them once more to facelift his new, 750-square-foot home, the brief—or lack thereof—was an opportunity too good to pass up. “Since we had collaborated before, the client was sure of our design language and style. He was comfortable giving us free rein,” says Bhavya. The design language in question is one that he and Nirav have carefully honed over the years—one that nods to Mumbai’s post-modern past, while embracing clean lines and minimalism.

[Print] Kozhikode: The Hidden House

Ajmal P. was always a dreamer. When other kids his age were feverishly chasing careers in law or medicine or engineering, he was busy manifesting a startup—an effort that not only paid off, but landed him in that coveted category of entrepreneurs who had "made it". With many of his childhood checkboxes ticked, one of the only things left on his checklist was building a home. So when he found the perfect site for it, he wasted no time in finding someone who could help him bring it to life. An Instagram search led him to Sham Salim and Aslam Karadan of aslam.sham architects. One phone call and one meeting later, he was convinced that the pair was right for the job. After all, with a contoured site like this one, it was an architectural undertaking achievable by but a precious few.

[Print] Getting Candid With Smita Thomas

Of all her memories growing up, Smita Thomas's most significant are those of her mother. "Specifically, her fingers. She was always very creative, making intricate dolls, painting with oils and watercolours, doing needle art and conjuring up the most exquisite puppets," recalls the founder and principal designer of Bangaluru-based design firm Multitude of Sins (MOS). "I never appreciated her then, but as I reflect back, I realise she was so much more creative than I could ever be. I am a designer, but she was an artist." Today, MOS is a manifestation of her flair for the outré, where projects aren’t just projects; they are whimsical experiments with each having a story to tell.

[Print] Mumbai: Hygge Hideaway

Minimalist and elegant, with a decidedly Scandinavian air, Pooja and Ankush Kedia's Mumbai apartment is the sort of place you'd happen upon in Stockholm, Oslo or Copenhagen. Certainly not in Mumbai's colourful milieus. "It wasn't always this way," muses Pooja. "But after living in the same home for a few years, we decided we needed a change." An Instagram search led them to Rasneet Anand—founder and principal architect of her eponymous architecture and interior design firm—whom they presented with a brief that was years in the making. The three overarching descriptors? "Simple, swish, stylish." The rest, they insisted, was up to Rasneet.

[Print] Meet the Makers: Khanoom

Priyamvada Golcha was raised with a deep respect for craftsmanship. After all, her family had been in the business of clay and particle technology for the better half of a century, and she had grown up around artisans and makers breathing life into the most beautiful ceramic objects. "And yet, it took the pandemic to prompt me to venture out on my own. Well, that and Simon," she laughs. This would be British-born, Jaipur-based designer Simon Marks (who has dedicated the last two decades to working with artisans in India and Indonesia), whom Priyamvada met through a mutual friend. "He was designing tiles for a commercial kitchen project at the time, and was looking for someone to make them. We kept brainstorming, experimenting, and the ideas kept flowing. At one point, we realised we were remarkably compatible, so why not set up a studio together?" says Priyamvada.

[Print] Bangalore: Sunshine in the City

It was the summer of 2021 when Nain Belliappa received an unexpected call—from a fellow designer with whom she had previously collaborated. "She resonated with our work and was keen on exploring a working collaboration," she recalls. But this time, the home in question was the designer's own, and she was particular about the process. "For the first time in many years, I was required to submit a pitch. I initially told her we don’t pitch for projects, but a week later, I called her back with a design proposal. She loved it and the rest, as they say, is history!" "She" would be Namita Agrawal, founder and creative director of Bangalore-based boutique home decor store Sunshine Boulevard, who tapped Nain and her team—which included design lead Ritushree Belur and execution partners Tattva Lifespaces—to imagine a Goa-style bolthole with cheery colour and lots of light.

[Print] Mumbai: A Homemade Holiday

Like many young couples, Himani Agrawal and Krishna Khandelwal had long dreamed of owning their own home in Mumbai. Having met as students at IIT Bombay, and married soon after, there was something utterly magical about forging their next chapter in the Maximum City. So when it came time to make—and design—their maiden home, they knew they had to pick someone special. "The nature of their work requires them to be flexible in terms of location. So one of their prerequisites was that they be able to pick up and move easily, at minimum cost, if and when the scenario arose," says Deshna Kasliwal, founder and principal designer of her eponymous Mumbai-based design firm—and the “someone special” that the couple picked to give their new home a sunny facelift.

[Print] Meet the Makers: Vāhe Ensemble

It was during a summer trip to Delhi that Vaishnavi Walvekar first met a Naqaashi artisan from Srinagar. It was in Dilli Haat, she recalls, and his name was Riyaaz ji: "His stall had all these lightweight, ornate products—all made of recycled paper. I was pursuing my MFA in Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco at the time, and had flown back for the summer." That this particular summer would change the course of her career—and her life—was something she would only discover later.
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