An apartment at Powai, Mumbai has been designed in a contemporary aesthetic by SHROFFLEoN. The unusual installation of a large black box at the entrance organises functions, even as it makes an impactful statement.
What do most architects do when they have to design the interiors of a large apartment in Mumbai? Top of the list is usually breaking walls to create larger spaces. So it would be safe to conclude that the introduction of a ‘box’ measuring 20x8x7.5 ft would not even be considered. But that is exactly what Maria Leon and Kayzad Shroff have done in this 3,500 sq ft apartment in Powai, Mumbai.
“The apartment has a private elevator opening directly into the home. So we were able to install this black granite-clad ‘box’ which hugs one wall but protrudes partially into the lobby of the lift area. It has a cut-out measuring 5×5 ft, with a water body under it,” says Kayzad.
Visible through the cut-out are the arresting Medusa-like swirls of a hand-blown yellow glass chandelier – together with a glimpse of the den beyond, the main focus being on its criss-cross ceiling. This carefully orchestrated sight entices and beckons, setting the stage for what is to come. “The ‘box’ also houses the puja room, the bar and the server, accessed from different sides,” adds Maria, lest one imagine that it is all form and no function.
The clients simply wanted a contemporary space, so the brief wasn’t very detailed. “However, we did need to convince them to reduce a bedroom so that there could be a luxurious master suite with a walk-in closet and a large en suite bath,” says Kayzad.
“What we spent the most time and effort on was concealing the doors and shutters, so that they blend almost seamlessly into the wall finish.”
The living room has a grey and tangerine palette, with a large customised Daliesque carpet measuring 12×18 ft which ties the space together. The artwork on the wall picks up the orange hue of the upholstery, while crinkled lead foil clad on one wall offers a rich textured metallic surface illuminated by the recessed spotlights in the ceiling.
Spaces were reorganised, with the terrace being converted into a den. Connected to the dining room with glass doors, the two areas can be merged when required. The dining table has a mirror polished marble top above which 11 Alvar Aalto lamps are suspended from the ceiling, their fluid white fabric-like folds creating a sculpturesque presence.
In the den, the ceiling draws one’s gaze upwards with its criss-cross pattern of LEDs outlining the coffers of the wooden ceiling. Each coffer is studded with a globular glass luminaire fitted with a filament bulb, its yellow light contrasting with the cooler temperature of the LEDs, the entire assemblage creating a three dimensional effect.
At eye level, the yellow swirls of the glass chandelier are visible in the cut-out of the ‘box’. Wooden flooring unites the den with the dining area, to create a seamless space when needed.
In the master suite, the bedroom alone is all of 400 sq ft with an ivory coloured cushioned leather headboard for the bed, mounted on a dark wooden veneer clad wall; the contrast in colours is eyecatching. White Statuario marble flows over the floor, its rich veins add to the character of the space. The room also accommodates a long study table and two sofa chairs with a coffee table. The generous proportions of the en suite bath give away the fact that it was a bedroom in the original plan.
“It also had too many windows for a bathroom,” says Maria. “So we’ve mounted the mirror above the washbasins in front of a window, leaving a strip around it through which the natural light comes in to create a backlit effect.” The window near the tub has also received special attention. “A screen in glossy stainless steel offers privacy, even as reflections bounce off its slats,” says Kayzad.
The guest bedroom has customised marble tiles with a textured finish on the wall behind the bed, while a chevron patterned wallpaper by Maya Romanoff mimics wood to form a panel behind the television.
The bedroom for the two young girls is a feminine space in soft pink and pale coloured veneer. The upper level of the bunk bed is used more for play rather than sleeping.
A customised wallpaper has a map of the world on it and covers a door as well as switches without a break in the graphic. A rectangular cove above the play area provides ambient lighting.
The lighting strategy includes one inch wide rimless recessed spotlights and coves for the ambient lighting in the apartment. It is the standing lamps which have a decorative function. Contrasting colours in veneers have been used in a uniform manner, to achieve the intended effect. “Throughout the apartment, a light maple veneer has been used for backdrops in larger spaces, with a dark chestnut to highlight smaller areas,” says Maria.
And what about the ‘box’ which takes centre stage? “The granite on its surface has been shot-blasted and textured. The living, dining room and den together sprawl over 1,800 sq ft, so we wanted an ‘object’ in the centre,” says Kayzad. The bold move houses necessities and also creates drama, framing views within the apartment. The box is an outcome of a clear and focussed out-of-the-box thinking.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photo Credits Photographix