This family home in Ahmedabad has been designed by Samira Rathod of SRDA to be the playground of natural light, plush patterns, and inter-connected spaces. The said project was created by focusing on what is and can be improved upon, instead of what could have been.
It may not be immediately apparent, but this home inspired a great degree of introspection on the nature of spaces and our modern expectations of them.
Designer Samira Rathod of Mumbai-based Samira Rathod Design Associates had always been biased towards generous influx of natural light and the preponderance of statement prints in her layouts, but while working on the Penthouse project in Ahmedabad, lots of ideas on the character of urban spaces stirred inside her mind. “We didn’t want to create anything that was merely second-best. In so many projects, the image of the space, the decoration makes for the primary element of design. Our idea was to unburden and accentuate what was already there,” states Rathod.
The SRDA design team found itself locked in a happy collaboration with the client. “He is very design-conscious and thought deeply about the final plan. He was inspired by stimuli almost 24/7, and he chalked out activities across every week and every month with family and friends so as to help decide the look of the spaces and their material palette.”
This effort blended perfectly with what the designers were already thinking. “We were given a shell. Our approach was to deal with its limitations and not turn it around completely. We wanted to take what we had and convert it into a comfortable, cosy space that was great for coming home to,” reveals Rathod.
The core sentiment was to be happy with what existed, instead of mulling over what wasn’t and bending over backwards to create an illusion of it. So, what did exist before this? The answer: A 5,000 sq ft swathe that included 4 space crunched rooms, a staircase, and terraces criss-crossing the air. The apartment building stands in the heart of the Gujarati city, and the project covers both the 11th and the 12th floors. “We took over and knocked down almost all the walls. The rooms were all fairly huddled together,” recalls Rathod.
“We decided to restructure the terrace for a seamless look. The low beams were a challenge, so the design used windows and skylights to make the rooms feel more open and far less cramped.”
This response-based design approach continued throughout. A 2-bedroom home for the family was crafted by opening up the spaces and laying them about in a more open-flow scheme. The highly-involved client loves a home filled to the brim with natural light and Rathod obliged, a bit reluctantly. “I apprehensively said yes to the plan,” she laughs. “I love natural light too but I prefer a more modulated plan. But this is the way he wanted it and no other way! But really, it has been a learning experience, as I came to like it too!”
The response to this palpable sunlight inclusion was the setting up of a multi-layered interior scheme. The harshness of the rays is tempered by thick curtains that unveil the brilliant city-views in degrees. The wooden flooring calms the vibe further. But the biggest salvo here is the upholstered furniture, all carefully placed to create pockets of cushy and comfortable coves. The expansive lounge area is composed of multiple such mini-spaces that work the range from individual to small groups to large get-together-worthy sections.
The languid space unfolds in a breezy, bright shell that is highlighted by dominant grey cushions and rugs, all stylishly interrupted by wooden accents. This is more mountain cabin space than a city-flat. The wall-length curtains and blinds add a sense of geometric theatricality to the room, and they move around to unveil manicured greenery and the promise of exhilarating views of Ahmedabad.
Rathod, always biased towards graphically-charged interiors, has dotted the home with furniture pieces that can stand on their own in statement, but blend equally well into the larger picture. In the selection of stone, cushion covers, rugs, lampshades, table-tops, and wall-art, whimsical lines dominate. The colour palette remains firmly tilted towards black and grey, but smidgens of yellow, blue, white, and brown have leaked into it and do much to create a balance.
The team employed a “huge assortment” of furniture pieces for the home, a lot of them from a mix of small Italian companies. But some tables, side-tables, study-tables and lamps and all door-handles were created and customised specifically for the project by SRDA.
Curving along the forbidding wooden stairwell is a surprisingly colourful, delightfully dainty railing, appearing in the brooding shaft like a darting snake in a swamp.
The living room manoeuvres around the height deficiency by embracing a low-rise seating and table set-up and a long rug that sits on beautifully patterned stone flooring. The wide-armed verticality of the windows remains consistent here, assigning the high-rise-dotted skyline of the city a season-responsive wallpaper role.
The “pièce de résistance” is ‘Fingers’. Attached to the staircase skylight, this feature is made of wood and is a spot depicting poetry in motion, quite unlike the rest of the home’s sturdy exterior. “It was inspired by the look of fingers moving on a piano, or in a choreographed dance,” Rathod says. The feature is composed of wooden slats held together by joints along which they jut out and seem to flay in a feverish dance.
“It helps create a contrast, a more feminine element that is not hard,” Rathod adds. The staircase itself is a break-away beauty, connecting the floors in an upward trajectory that moves from light to dimness and then on to bright light again. “Like a caterpillar,” Rathod offers. Following the staircase’s curvature are also shelves that the family can use to keep books in.
Evenings in the house are lit up by floor-lighting, a concept Rathod was happy to indulge in, especially because it is a trend she still finds to be a slow starter owing to the traditional reliance on ceiling lamps. “This concept has not sunk in yet, and it requires a bit of R&D on our part,” she says. So, she also brought in bracket lights and enough cluster lamps that hang from the ceiling.
“The idea was to create a softer environment, to have pools of light and darkness, the former where people can gather,” she says of the evening scheme.
This home is plush in its self-awareness as much as in its space and design. SRDA can take a bow.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy Shilpa Gawane