Mamta Naik prides herself on being able to translate her client’s aesthetics into her work. This principal of Mint Leaf Designs has just completed a sprawling 3,000 square feet office in Mumbai, and considers it one of her best assignments till date.
The office is situated in a commercial district of Worli. It had everything that an architect could hope for. After all, how many projects would come with a good budget, a client with excellent taste and the wonderful height structures in this area are known to have.
We first delve into the volume of the space, because that is clearly what Mamta Naik is most excited about, “I have always lived in heritage buildings with rooms that have big heights. So, the 11 feet height of this space, which we discovered when we brought down the previous false ceiling, became the starting point for many decisions,” she says.
Faithful to her love for preserving the height, the new false ceiling is minimal and has been designed in a way that highlights the original fan shaped tops of the pillar columns.
“The area is filled with plenty of columns. What was exciting were the beautiful fan shaped column tops or capitals that had been hidden by the false ceiling. We decided to expose these. The effect in totality is a design in itself,” she says.
The lamps hanging from the ceiling mimic the pillars in two ways. Firstly, their numbers complement the multitude of pillars. And secondly, their shape is similar to the fan shaped curve of the capitals. Even the legs of the chairs in the cabin mirror this shape. Thus, at a very subtle level, this element is unified in the design.
Removing the existing false ceiling did much more to the area than merely increase the height of the room; it enabled the original design of the numerous columns to be exposed. “It gave a sense of proportion to the area. The space is quite expansive and spaciousness was also a vital factor for the client. This gave the area a cohesively proportionate look,” says the architect.
Since the office belongs to a client who is in the business of iron ore mining, some elements of the design use metal. Metallic wall papers and delicate metal screens find their way here. The furniture is also metallic. A design of metal lines arranged in a criss-cross announces itself at the reception and later in the dining area as well. It serves to add another element of interest. “In fact, I am also looking for a chandelier with the same pattern,” adds Mamta.
The client was also particular about allowing as much natural light into the space as possible. Since one entire wall is lined with windows, the main staff area was designed along this space. Across this space, stand the cabins with full length glass screen walls that allow natural light to flood the insides.
Space and volume were very important in this project. “By using a subdued palette, a high ceiling and clear glass we have managed to retain the sense of spaciousness and volume. It also helped that my client was not adamant about using up every square inch of the area. This gives the office plenty of breathing space without making it look too crowded,” says Naik.
Since the office space was purchased by the client, long term sustainability was a very crucial part of design decision making. The client also liked a rugged matte look and loved textures. “We took vitrified tiles and white-washed oak wood for the flooring in the cabin. They are lovely to walk barefoot upon!” says the architect. All the furniture was from Herman Miller.
This project was as much about allowing the client’s personality to emerge through the design as it was about constructing something graceful. Through an intrinsic understanding of the requirements, this project shines emitting subtle elegance and a peaceful calm.
Text By Dhanishta Shah
Photographs Nrupen Madhvani