Rubel Dhuna Architects (RDa) believes in designing spaces employing carefully-considered materials, along with a facilitation of abundant sunlight, and above all exploring every possibility of multi-tasking.
The team at Mumbai-based Rubel Dhuna Architects (RDa) has a masterful talent – the designers in it can convert just about any space into a fashionable mini-universe that is unlike its surroundings. Be it a small terrace, a rooftop corner, or a loft, their plans can assign a new identity to it.
The key to this thinking is careful material use and RDa, set up in 2009, does it by using a select small number of materials every time, letting them shine on their own as well as complement each other. The other secret is in splitting even the tightest spaces into multiple utility sections, and then threading them together along a string of furniture pieces. These projects look simple but think smart. Not that those are mutually exclusive traits!
Flyover Farmhouse, Mumbai
Everything about this farmhouse will put you at ease. The sublime colour palette at work here is powerful enough to make even the most tired soul begin rejuvenating. On display is the RDa team’s genius for creating multiple microcosmic segments within a larger space. This farmhouse is located on the roof-top of a residential building. What was an unused part of the building has today become an earthy studio apartment fit for hosting get-togethers with friends and for weekend retreats not too far from home.
The flooring here, made using kota stone inside and a glimmering cladding of mosaic outside, is central to the feeling of calm that the space inhabits. Next in line is the wood, finished so to look matte and homely, and combined with some of the cane furniture pieces, to look invitingly content with life. Then there are the French windows, with rolling drapes at the ready, filling up the bedroom with sunlight and setting up just the right slim demarcation between the interiors and the exterior.
Rugs, mostly brown and blue but never loud, pepper the floor. The designers eschewed decking up the walls in favour of planting trees and bushes around the space, which ensure constant views of whimsical scenery that only nature can provide. The apartment is bookended by the private garden and a community space.
Juxtaposed along the main patio are a seating area and a dining section, the latter sitting Instagram-perfect with its blue and brown window backdrop and a traditional bharani acting as a flower-holder. Seen beyond is the JJ Flyover and the rest of the city madness. But you won’t know of that inside the apartment, which is what makes this project brilliant.
The Lawyer’s Den, Mumbai
The design team performed quite a few aesthetic calisthenics to get this project’s ‘exhaustive’ list of demands right. This had to be an office for 2 lawyers, but the space in this loft located in Mumbai’s Fort area was limited. So, the team flicked every unconventional switch on in their design and got working on a highly fluid scheme.
The entrance corridor houses the reception, which quickly spills over to the conference room and private study. The latter two sections have a glass partition in the middle which can be screened off when need be and opened up when a larger gathering is in the offing. The conference corner is dominated by a sleek micro concrete table-top with a white powder-coated metal base, carefully constructed by RDa itself to fit just right in the tight space.
The table perfectly complements the white and silver grey patterned cement tiles from Bharat Floorings and Tiles which bask in the sheets of natural light streaming in from the generous window swathe. The general tenor here is clean, white, and wooden, together establishing an aura of efficiency and order.
Right next to it, the study is livened up a bit by the double-depth library shelfing where the multi-coloured book spines stand out in comparison to the rest. A single-step staircase leads up to the reading loft, a charming little escape made for quiet introspection and, maybe, afternoon naps. The space below the staircase has been turned into a double-depth storage corner, undoubtedly a smart addition for an office that is bound to have a high volume of paper records.
RDa’s product line is distinguished by its simple solidity. The furniture pieces and lamps in the firm’s product collection are multi-faceted in spite of their low-on-frills demeanour. A lot of the inspiration of form also comes from traditional Indian furniture like charpais and muddahs. RDa has designed a line of products for No-mad 97% India. The Bhelstand, Charpai and Muddah and coffee table were designed by RDa for NO-Mad97% India.
The style stakes of the recognisable forms are amped up by replacing the usual wooden or cane material with handcrafted metal which is then further enhanced by the intricate use of waxed cotton cord dyed in sprightly colours.
The team maintains its characteristic restraint, not over-doing the colour or the re-invention. The ‘Muddah’, made of mild steel, is a small but pretty presence in any room and is perfect for use as a singular coffee table in, say, a home’s reading nook. It was awarded the ‘Best Furniture Product of the Year 2013’ at the Elle Décor International Design Awards (EDIDA).
The ‘Charpai’ has a similar make, but is available in two sizes and multiple colours and weaves. The tapering crossed legs of the piece represent its modernity, while its solid weave and post-less form is quintessentially old. This piece can be a day bed or a coffee table, and we reckon, an excellent surface to play board games on. The ‘Bhelstand’ is another resident of this universe and can be slipped into any setting which is asking for a spot of hipster quirkiness.
The paper veneer lights (Flexure 1 and Flexure 2) and micro concrete table (Gypsy) are part of RDa’s in-house furniture collection. ‘Flexure 1’(used in the Lawyer’s Den) has been crafted out of fine Oakwood paper veneer, a lovely, light material that allows the team to experiment with shapes. Hung from a brass rod, the lamp gives out textured light that enhances the grainy translucence of the base material.
‘Flexure 2’ is hardier in comparison and has been designed using teakwood, SS electrical cord, and acrylic. Its form is long and sleek, making it ideal for creating lamp clusters over large tables. The thinness of the lamp and the slim glowing centre would be perfect for any library as well.
Text by Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Architect