The Mumbai-based design firm, ShroffLeón likes to work on a non-frilly canvas. Its projects are defined by their simplicity of style and form and an acute understanding of the projects’ demands.
Most design and architectural projects are deeply collaborative efforts, with every participant infusing a distinct trait to the final product. But it takes a big pinch of generosity and humility to acknowledge this meeting of minds and labour.
Mumbai-based ShroffLeón, founded in 2008, highlights this point of “holistic” involvement whenever explaining its own approach, and with that subtle understanding, sets itself apart. Adding to this effect is the firm’s commitment to building “fluid exchanges between inhabitants and their environments”.
The style of ShroffLeón, a portmanteau of the surnames of the two principals, Kayzad Shroff and Maria León, is to stride on the more subtle side of things. Mad flashes are rare in these projects; instead there are warm streaks of mood lighting and polished wood.
The firm’s work ethic involves extensive research and a deep respect for the intellectual contributions of young and old team members alike. These facets reflect well in its mature treatment of every demand a client makes.
Loco Poco the Spanish Tapas Bar in Bandra demanded a laid back demenour, ShroffLeon was commissoned to turn a older dilapidated establishment into a contemporary eatery.
With characteristic restraint and a deep love for the shade of gleaming wood, the firm re-invented the space – by engineering a careful seating arrangement and introducing a superb flush of natural light. The eatery today is a happy place that seems ready to welcome fun-loving guests.
With the Mediterranean-style standing bar, the chalk board, a wall with uneven wooden slates into which bottles do the ostrich, and a walking area that offers a little more than squiggle space, but many opportunities of bump-ins, this place screams informality.
In modelling Poco-Loco like a large, modern kitchen-and-dining space instead of a Spanish prop-laden sprawl, ShroffLeón achieved something distinct. This is a place where guests can sit, chat and eat without being constantly reminded of being in a Spanish rip-off set-up.
The inspirations here are subtle and refined – one will need a keen eye to pick out the hand-crafted traditional tiles and how well they fit into the larger design scheme.
House In Kashid
This project by ShroffLeón was picked as the entry from India for Backstage Architecture, a collection of projects names and contacts of architects under 40 from forty-five different countries. It was exhibited under the ‘Architects meet Fuori Biennale’ that took place in Venice in August 2012, parallel to the Venice Biennale inauguration, as well as at the annual architectural convention ‘Architects meet in Selinunte’ in Sicily in March 2013.
With all the accolades it received, it will be easy to assume that this is some extravagant project of eccentric grade. But the fact is that this beach-facing house’s success is in its simple application and inspired mild detour of a well-established principal – Charles Correas’ HUDCO courtyard housing unit.
With the courtyard as the axis point, the all-important kitchen is afforded the pride of the place and superb inter-connectivity with the rest of the sections of the house. This was a precise demand by the client and was duly fulfilled by the design firm using the MIG-1 typology as the base.
Conceived and implemented causing minimal disturbance to the existing contours, this house offers brilliant views of the sea, while its infinity pool extends this view.
J Terrace Mumbai
The biggest salvo in ShroffLeón’s favour here is the team’s firm grasp on the idea of simplicity and, never losing sight of the priority list of the home’s spaces.
ShroffLeón has made it a habit to accommodate the quirkiness of specific sections into other spaces of a project. So when this house demanded a multi-purpose outdoor deck that could morph into a yoga practice corner and a party pad on command, its LED cubes of dim lighting spilled over to the more genteel segments of the house too.
The multi-coloured chequer boxes of illumination are stand-out elements of this project, whether they are on the side-wall or the ceiling or on the floor.
Uneven and bold, these fixtures give the 350 sq ft space a sense of constant movement. Its reflections and replications across a range of hues look like a giant game of Tetris playing out amongst no-nonsense couches. In the firm’s arsenal of the sublime, this is an unabashed succumbing to the funky.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Designer