[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] 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.

[Print] Cover Story, Oct '22 // Chennai: Vitamin Sea

Chennai's East Coast Road is thought to be one of India's most picturesque coastal highways. Given that it’s neighboured by the Bay of Bengal, and closely framed by greenery, rivers, backwaters, temples, mosques and UNESCO heritage sites, it's little wonder that many city folks choose to call it home. Such was the case of one doctor family, who had purchased a beachside pied-à-terre here many moons ago. “The weekend home was used primarily by the parents, whose kids would visit now and then,” says Faisal Manzur—founder and principal designer of his eponymous architecture and interior design firm—who was tapped by the family to give the six-bedroom property a happy facelift.

[Print] Hyderabad: Treasures of Tradition

Antique chairs, contemporary artworks, vintage lamps and urns, and garden-like greenery—this Hyderabad apartment could easily have belonged in an imperial palace of centuries past—if imperial palaces also featured statement furniture and voguish accents. "It's an eclectic blend of the past and the present, a contemporary design flavoured with Indian nuances," says Keerthi Tummala, founder and creative director of Sage Living, who was tapped to give the 4,500-square-foot apartment—composed of two living rooms, three bedrooms, a library, a dining area, a kitchen and a balcony—an India Modern spin.

[Print] Getting Candid With Gunjan Gupta

Growing up, Gunjan Gupta was her mother’s accomplice in all things design. “Whether it was laying the table or matching her jewellery to her sari, my opinion was always considered. At a young age, my mother seeded in me the confidence to go against the grain. My father, too, had an egalitarian outlook and gave me complete freedom to pursue a career of my choice,” she says. What she also remembers is that she had a mind of her own when it came to aesthetics, arranging the plates and crockery in her own signature style. But that was just the first glimmer the world would witness of the now-acclaimed designer rewriting the rulebook. More than two decades later, Gunjan’s penchant for upending convention remains just as steadfast. Today, she helms three design verticals: her eponymous design studio which specialises in limited-edition collectibles, furniture and objects; Studio Wrap, her interior design and custom furniture firm; and Ikkis, her affordable furniture and object range. Her limited-edition pieces have been internationally acquired by renowned museums including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

[Print] Name to Know: Golda Pereira

As a child growing up in Goa, Golda Pereira would summer at her dad’s ancestral home on the island of Divar, along with all her cousins. "We’d spend our days playing in the village, fishing, and walking through the dusty summer fields. At night, we’d sit together on a long dining table for dinner, and then convene in the balcao to exchange stories," she remembers. But the highlight of those annual vacations was a makeshift hut, or homti, that the cousins would build in the backyard, along with some help from their uncles. "Every year, we’d build it at the start of summer, and take it down before the monsoons arrived," she recalls, adding that as the years progressed, the homtis became more complex, and the cousins would try to outdo themselves every summer. "There was a feeling of excitement of having built it with our own bare hands. Today, my outlook on design comes from these experiences, besides the more obvious influences: Goa's heritage homes, our beautiful village lanes, rivers, and the environment where they coexist."

[Print] A Sunlit Sanctuary in Mumbai by Quirk Studio

When a 30-something couple approached Shivani Ajmera and Disha Bhavsar to design their home, they knew exactly what they wanted: something modern, something mid-century—with lots of sunlight and storage to boot. "The couple enjoys hosting and entertaining, and with a little toddler, they wanted a space tailored equally for family and friends," say Shivani and Disha, whom the couple found through mutual acquaintances.

[Print] Unwind: Den by the River in Goa

In the sleepy Goan village of Alorna, hides a villa where time takes a breather. "It was designed to be a little oasis that melds into the local landscape; a place where its Mumbai-based owners could escape when they needed a break from the Maximum City," says Kumpal Vaid, founder and principal designer of Purple Backyard, who, along with a team that included Rutu Mehta, Kunal Pawar and Anjali Jadhav, was brought on board by the homeowners to conjure up a colourful holiday villa.

[Print] Getting Candid With Sarah Sham

Born into a fourth-generation business family that specialises in collectibles and objets d'art, Sarah Sham had always been surrounded by beautiful things. So when she graduated with an art history degree from Duke, and spent a year away at Oxford studying 19th-century French art, many might have anticipated that she would pursue a career in design. “Hardly,” she guffaws. “I always thought of doing something in economics, finance or psychology. Interior design was the furthest thing from my mind.” But life had other plans for Sarah. Today, she is the founder and principal designer of Essajees Atelier, a Mumbai-based interior design firm that has completed more than 50 projects across the country.

[Print] Coastal Cocoon: Halcyon House at Cabarita Beach

Perched on Cabarita Beach, along the golden coastline of northern New South Wales, is a tranquil oasis that breathes the air of bygone Australian summers. The luxury hotel, christened Halcyon House, is a boutique property with 22 jewel box rooms. Each of its suites has been tailored in a distinct style by interior designer Anna Spiro, who hopes the magic of each stay will linger on in guests’ memories long after they have left.

[Print] Mumbai: Beach-style Bolthole by Sandesh Prabhu

Sudhir and Alita Lobo are a house-proud pair. And if you were to swing by their Turner Road penthouse on a Friday evening, chances are, you’d be treated to equal servings of balchão and banter. The easy-breezy spirit, as you learn when you visit them, isn’t just restricted to their person—it’s channelled just as easily by their walls and windows and doors and floors. “As a family, we like to entertain a lot and it was very important to us that every element tell a story,” smiles Alita, gesturing behind her to a wall festooned with antique china plates acquired by the family (which also includes daughters Kiara, 20, and Ayana, 18) on a bygone holiday. Indeed, as you take in the home, one thing is clear—every corner, every piece of furniture, every tchotchke whispers of a past life. But the home wasn’t always this way.
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