What is the best way to display the pieces in a showroom for outdoor furniture? How is it different from, say, a clothes store or an automobile showroom? Workshop Inc. resolves this dilemma with their design for The Wicker Studio’s latest enterprise.
The Wicker Studio focuses its endeavours towards revolutionising the way outdoor furniture is designed and used. They are of the belief that the occasional outdoor experience we encounter amidst our fast-paced indoor lives must be enjoyed and cherished. The team at Workshop Inc. was entrusted with the task of encapsulating this very ideology in the design of the new TWS showroom in Ahmedabad.
A wide range of furniture forms a part of the various outdoor ambiences that TWS offers its customers. Thus, clients have the option of redefining their space – be it a private balcony, a more social terrace or a commercial space – in an assortment of ways. The team at TWS adds, “You can even blend styles and leave your spaces free of definitions.” Displaying this diverse collection in an innovative manner formed the crux of the brief.
The biggest challenge with a project like this is that the context in which the furniture is to be displayed – an indoor showroom – is completely different from the context in which it is ultimately going to be used – an outdoor area. Therefore, the designers began with the premise of recreating the outdoor setting within the indoor environment. “Each stage of design focused on creating a different outdoor experience. Finally, we had to cohesively bring them under one roof,” says the team.
The existing shell is linear, one in which the length of the space is considerably greater than the width. This gives rise to an essentially linear plan. A feature wall treated in grey stucco and exposed brickwork faces a brightly painted butter yellow wall on the ground floor and a royal blue one on the first. Along the length of the feature wall, smaller spaces are defined by tall, MS framed, shelved partitions that are suspended from the dark grey ceiling.
Varying patterns of the exposed brickwork form backdrops to each of these smaller pockets. Within each, a different furniture cluster is displayed. “The partitions allow for each cluster to be viewed in its entirety, preventing the eye from wandering to the next cluster,” says the team. However, being suspended, seemingly lightweight and predominantly translucent, they ensure that the feeling of being within one large continuous space is not lost.
Keeping the palette of materials very natural and raw was integral to the outdoor theme. The ground floor is covered largely in kota stone. Strips of pebbled patches set beneath the suspended MS partitions are used to notionally segregate the clusters. “The pebbles are reminiscent of outdoor garden walkways,” says the team.
Seamless epoxy flooring is employed on the first floor. Below the yellow and blue walls, a raised platform built in brick paving is used to display special chairs and smaller furniture clusters. Small patches of green interspersed within the scheme reinforce the feeling of outdoors. “A variety of vibrantly coloured props, artificial greens and small indoor plants accessorise the space and add character.”
Minimal intervention in the staircase area in the form of kota stone flooring and grey stucco walls lends this space an elegant feel. Here, two details make the transition from ground floor to first floor an engaging experience. The first is a furniture cluster displayed on a floating concrete slab lit by suspended track lighting. The second is the railing detail – an MS sheet with a laser-cut pattern of circles mounted with a wooden handrail.
A triad formed by three members of the CEPT alumni – Harsha Mistry, Keta Shah and Varun Shah – leads the crew at Workshop Inc., a multi-disciplinary design practice that comprises architects, designers as well as artists. Since its founding in 2014 in Ahmedabad, the firm has worked on a broad spectrum of projects across product design, graphic design, installations, experiential design and space design.\
The firm strongly believes that each new project is a chance to experiment and learn. “We seek out narratives for each project and focus less on form-making,” says the team. Each project is developed from a core idea that governs the design, an idea that employs a simple solution to arrive at the final product.
The Wicker Studio is known for creating furniture pieces that fuse ergonomic sensibility, exotic charm and aristocratic elegance with an aesthetic that is internationally appealing. The multi-disciplinary approach at Workshop Inc. combines art, graphics and space on a single canvas to create a showroom that emulates the TWS philosophy essentially.
Text By Ar. Priti Kalra
Photographs Courtesy Kunal Bhatia