When it was a question of creating an innately soothing and peaceful space, such as a salon cum spa, M:OFA Studio just went ahead and decoded the essence of ‘Monsoon’ into architectural notes through a range of colours, textures, lighting features and design strategies.
The first showers of monsoon, like heavenly blessings, never fail to wash away the summer heat and dust and open up every pore to the heady smell of the awakening of life. It urges us to close our eyes, breathe in and simply revel in the calmness that sets in. This magic and its myriad experiences that touch us in this season, have been translated into an architectural narrative, in the aptly named Monsoon Salon and Spa, by New Delhi based design practice M:OFA Studio.
Located in a high end neighbourhood, the M:OFA team has designed this salon and spa to foster a naturally soothing environment that easily transports city stressed minds far away from the loud metropolis. Says Manish Gulati, Principal Architect at M:OFA, “the brief was to create a brand identity for Monsoon Salons and position them with a unique language concurrent with their work philosophy on a budget of Rs 2,500 per square feet maximum.”
Stepping into the salon, our senses are bombarded with a jumble of colours, textures and fixtures. There is nothing voguish about the space; instead the overwhelmingly earthy and rustic appearance makes one feel at home instantly.
Trying to explain the spatial quality in ‘Monsoon’, Architect Manish Gulati says, “Monsoon in India has multiple connotations – an onset of cool winds after the scorching summer heat, tinkling of the droplets of rain, and the cleansing phenomenon that reveals the purest in nature. Pure and unadulterated. It is this experience of the monsoon showers washing away all grime and leaving behind a cleansed, sparkling, gleaming, rejuvenated feel that we have tried to imbibe in the spirit of the interior spaces for the Monsoon salons.”
‘Pure and unadulterated’ is also translated through materials being used in their pure form. Epoxy flooring and exposed concrete generate an interior of a shell like feel, where all other elements take a desired complimentary form and grow.
Standing in the large open planned interior space, one cannot miss the way the design team has used partitions and shelves to segment the volume into three separate sections. Cordoning the styling stations and the wet area i.e. the manicure, pedicure and shampoo stations, are bright red MS Jaali partitions, on which the word ‘monsoon’ in different font sizes becomes art.
Undoubtedly the best portion of Monsoon Salon and Spa is the spa area accessed by a dark dim lit corridor, walled with railway sleeper partitions and exposed curved brick. The M:OFA team have expertly used brick work with controlled lighting to set up a lacuna aimed to relax every sense of the human body.
Each section has a distinct identity, like the wet zones are marked by exposed brick walls painted white and accented with circular red patches. These along with shelves made of rough cut wood planks reclaimed from shipping pallets add to the ‘unadulterated’ character of the space. Staying true to the design ethos, the ceiling is kept devoid of false panels and frilly accents.
The design team at M:OFA have used materials, textures and both natural and artificial lighting to create the perfect mood setting requisite of any good salon and spa. “To adhere to a budget almost 50 % lower than contemporary market rates for salons,” explains the team, “we used recycled shipping pallets, railway sleepers, MS instead of stainless steel and so on. Keeping to the industrial look we provided finishes with sealants instead of plaster and paint. Exposed RCC and brickwork and exposed ducting have helped tremendously in keeping the costs down; the same materials also came together as a composition to create a unique identity.”
The M:OFA team once again proves that ‘not treading the beaten path’ can indeed be a delightful and rewarding experience.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Manish Gulati Courtesy M:OFA Studio Pvt Ltd