Nikhil Juvekar Design Associates crafts an office space in their trademark, warm and welcoming Indian contemporary style and in the process, redefines the concept of a typical workplace.
Why glass cubicled offices? Why a formal and impersonal look for an office? Mumbai based design practice Nikhil Juvekar Design Associates (NJDA), explores the ‘why nots’ of office design in its project 502, and comes up with spaces that are ‘warm’, ‘Indian’ and ‘homely’.
It is easier to craft magic into architecture if the client and designer share the same philosophy and in 502 both parties were in tandem with their thoughts. They were clear about the concept – ‘No glass cubicles fitted with branded furniture.’ The entire team wanted a warm and welcoming vibe to exude from the spaces. Points out architect Nikhil Juvekar, “We have heard about homes being warm, why not a workplace! Everything kicked off from here.”
In 502, the team wanted to bring a sense of freedom into the spatial design. There are no partitioned workstations here, but individual spaces that encourage dialogue and interaction amongst the staff. Note the team, “Freedom remains a fundamental factor in every performance. We usually see the heads of an organisation with large tables, then why make the staff work with partitioned cubicles?”
An open plan also ensured an added sense of spaciousness to the heighted expanse. The team realised early on that with a ceiling height of 15 feet enclosing features or sectioning spaces had to be avoided, else it would hamper the ‘feeling of openness’ they wanted.
Using a material composition of raw wood, plywood and semi opaque glass, the screens were designed with the definite aim of minimising their visual solidity.
As one walks around, vertical surfaces grab our attention, while the flooring remains subtly in the background. Wanting a material that would neither dominate the ambience nor go unnoticedin the composition, natural Indian stone was selected.
Two separate batches produced a random pattern which in its imperfection became perfect for the design style. Adds Nikhil, “Another advantage of the stone flooring is that it has a cooling effect on the internal atmosphere. This helps, especially in the warm climate of Mumbai.”
‘Customisation’ is another signature style of NJDA which is evident right from the light switches to the furniture. According to the architect customisation lends uniqueness to the space. Hence in all their projects, the prime focus is on customising things and objects.
Wooden furniture designed to suit the rooms and functions dominate the spaces in their warm appeal and unique design, proving the importance of ‘custom design’.
A balance in the material composition is clear to an observant eye – the solidity of wood as a dominant material is balanced by the transparency of glass.
Another element introduced to break the timber monotony and divert the attention from it is an exposed brick wall which unintentionally has also become the focal point in 502.
Binding all the different elements and features are the walls that have been painted with exterior paint to give the surfaces a grainy finish. “We wanted the rough and frosty feel of the textured cement walls.” explain the team. The interesting aspect about these plain walls is that at the top they are left bare, giving an illusion of merging with the exposed concrete ceiling and creating an illusion of height.
An important feature is the use of materials in their natural and raw form, which Nikhil feels ‘brings out the best in them’. The flaws and imperfections of the material palette, come together to create a beautiful composition that is unique and cannot be duplicated.
The NJDA team intends to take interiors and architecture to the next level, the product has to be well detailed. In 502, they have detailed spaces to the tiniest particulars giving a unique identity to the office. Warm, welcoming and homely – the spaces redefine contemporary Indian style in a language that is balanced and matchless.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Courtesy Saki Naidu and Nikhil Juvekar