The Mumbai office of the firm Dalberg took a step away from conventional office interiors and opted instead for a workspace that is both original and refreshing.
When Dalberg – a global strategic advisory firm – approached Rika Chaudhary and Ipsit Patel – founders of Patch Design Studio, to design the interiors of their office, their brief was quite simply to create “an unconventional office with ample open space.” The advisory firm which was currently operating out of a rather dull workspace was all keyed up to inhabit an office that exhibited more character and individuality.
Patch Design Studio’s elegant response to the brief announces a subtle departure from the conventional formal office setting. “Most of the employees are in the age-group of 20-30 and so it was important that the space have a fresh, youthful atmosphere that would make being at work a pleasurable experience,” says Rika.
According to Ipsit, the biggest challenge they faced was coming to an agreement with the client on the layout of the workstations. “What we finally agreed upon was an open-plan layout with the workstations arranged at a 45 degree angle in the centre of the office. Instead of separate tables we also chose to create communal-type tables that facilitated employee collaboration and interaction.”
Thanks to the unusual angle of the workstations, the team not only managed to make room for a sizeable number of employees, but they also managed to squeeze out extra room for breakout spaces.
Dalberg’s 2,500 sq ft office in Worli, Mumbai was completed in a span of three and a half months. During this time the design firm tore away the existing cabins and partitions built by the previous tenants. “We don’t like to waste too much,” says Rika drawing attention to the fact that they took special care to salvage and recycle wood and glass from the earlier interiors.
Although the flooring was damaged in places where the earlier partitions or cabins were ripped out, the design team decided not to fuss too much over it. Working against time and on a budget, they applied creative solutions to make the flaws less noticeable.
The flooring that does claim our attention however comprises a collage of hand-painted floor tiles in geometric patterns, laid out at the office entrance. This striking design feature is matched by a 3-dimensional logo on the wall, created out of clay pieces moulded by the company’s employees. Both the flooring and logo combine to create an impactful introduction to the firm’s out-of-the-box thinking.
At the workstations, modular furniture received the nod for its economic and practical qualities in meeting the everyday working needs of the staff.
At the heart of the office, this space comes alive with fluorescent tube lights in blue-hued wooden sheaths. Notice how the light boxes mimic the 45 degree angle of the workstations’ grid? If you look close enough, you’ll notice this angular design element appear in other corners of the office too.
“Another interesting feature of the workspace area is in the way we provided electrical connections for the workstations from the ceiling,” shares Ipsit. With electrical power discreetly making its way downwards at one side, the workstations are no longer permanently anchored to the floor and can be re-arranged at will and without much ado.The Dalberg office takes a shot at the Postmodernist look with its exposed ducting and wiring on the ceiling.
This move, says Ipsit was a deliberate decision by both the client and design firm in an effort to expand the space. “Knocking off the existing false ceiling itself added 8 to 9 inches to the height of the room and made the space appear lighter and airier.”
While clean, angular lines dominate the office space and keep the atmosphere professional, sudden pops of blue, framed artwork, colourful chairs and hand-painted tiles impart originality and individuality. “The client wanted something simple,” says Rika, adding, “but it also had to have character.”
In the glass-walled cabins, hand-woven katran chairs made from recycled fabric seem to scoff at the stereotypical high-backed coaster-chairs. The hyperbolic rope parabolas that form wall partitions in the cabins too break conventional office interior design norms. The design studio sums up the final effect saying, “Recycled katran ropes made out of waste fabric create an organic element amidst all the rectilinear forms.”
Indeed, the Dalberg office does stand out amidst the cluster of assembly-line interiors one sees these days and makes coming to office an event to look forward to, just like going home.
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Kunal Bhatia