Pune-based studioHAUS was established by Kunaal Seolekar, and the firm much like him likes to combine multiple schools of design and inspirations to create unique projects. The firm takes a well-travelled student’s approach to design – first studying all the fundamentals thoroughly, and then whipping in a mixture of ideas to re-define and often better the look, texture, and feel of all the elements. The design boards here are busy homes of myriad patterns, colours and materials, with a steady romance with environmental sustainability running through. Any teacher would be proud of such a heady mix.
“Austerity” and “depth” are two of the many words that the team statement mentions while describing this project, and these best compliment the design effort invested here. studioHAUS was commissioned to design a showcase apartment by the Florida River Bank apartment complex in Pune’s Mundhwa area, a location like every one of those peripheral spots that are currently fast developing but just a few years ago were afterthoughts. But these areas enjoy a distinct advantage over the main city – a still-quite-generous green cover.
“On the banks of a river, surrounded by thriving cultivation, the site is a natural habitat for several birds and native flora. Nature therefore, played a vital role in the planning and conceptualisation of the development,” confirms the team. As it is a largely aspirational space, the team has worked brilliantly to infuse the rooms with a largely white, pastel and light wood colour scheme, allowing a lot of space for imagination to take over and plan for the future.
The spaces of the flat are almost luminescent, bathed in sunlight streaming in from the wall-length windows, and aided in the mission by sheer curtains and mirrored props. The sublime hue choices help highlight the magic of natural and upholstery patterns even further – here one will notice and enjoy the whimsical patterns on birch and walnut wood, the geometry of the kitchen tiles, and the colour play of the custom-made rugs more starkly. It also helps assign a thin layer of mischief to the sudden bursts of colour peppered all around.
Like a book-case, with its open bowels lined with a shiny, bright blood-red finish; or the smart placement of a neon sign spelling ‘play’ hovering over a bedstead, while a wall plastered with black-and-white, brick-wall-aping wallpaper stands by silently.
Out of Africa, Pune
It is not easy to stand out in Koregaon Park in Pune, and it is even harder to arrest anyone’s attention on the bustling North Main road, the main pathway across which vehicles, pedestrians, and street-shoppers hustle by. The O Hotel is located on this road, and when studioHAUS was pulled in to design a compound wall to go with a new entrance to the hotel, the designers decided to use this chance to install some creative artefacts to counter the chaos that brews around the location.
“While in the process of referencing concepts, a meeting at our clients’ drew us to a wire framed elephant in papier-mâché at their office, an earlier study of a room artefact. Taking it along to our studio, and adding a rhino for an element of interest, we conceptualised a landscaped habitat at a corner with the animals in life size to provide visual relief to the staid walled entrance,” states the team. The LED-bordered metal rhino, crafted as grazing on grass, and the elephant, its trunk aloft in salute, were created at studioHAUS’ workshop and fitted with weather-proof high-grade fiberglass.
Strikingly visible during the day and aglow at night, the metal animals bring the exotic magic of the African wild to a commercially-overwhelming location. And they also become a fitting tribute to South African designer, Les Harbottle, who designed the hotel’s interiors.
This initiative by studioHAUS is where a lot of the firm’s global ideas and inspirations are poured in and mixed together to facilitate the creation of contemporary art and design. inHAUS Worksmiths is the brainchild of Seolekar and Tony Kordolia, realised as a platform where clients can be offered a wide-ranging array of furniture pieces, lighting equipment and other design props that are innovative and distinct in their make and form.
This vision is supported by intensive research, plenty of inspiration infusion from multiple travels, smart prototyping, and studies into everything from material to patterns. “The shed is an all-white contemporary workshop shed which includes the design studio, wood, metal and paint shops. A cross collaboration of practices and skills between designers and artisans is what makes this place unique, creative and a pleasure to work in,” states the team.
With their insistence on customisation and eclecticism, efforts like inHAUS Worksmiths are often what distinguish modern design firms from the same old, and also raise the bar for the overall design landscape.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Designer