Fearlessly bringing together colours and bold patterns enhanced by exquisite detailing, MuseLAB Design Engine instils a home in Mumbai with an uber chic contemporary aesthetic.
A five-bedroom home for a couple with four grown up children came to Huzefa Rangwala and Jasem Pirani of MuseLAB Design Engine with a one-word brief, “Functionality.” It also entailed creating a five-bedroom apartment from a four bedroom one with a carpet area of 2750 square feet. A den area and a powder bathroom that were a part of the dining-living area were converted into the fifth bedroom.
That the home belonged to Jasem’s parents, meant freedom as well as responsibility. Without having to run every small detail by the client, the outcome of the decisions would have to be confronted on a daily basis. “This was our opportunity to experiment and showcase design process,” says Huzefa.
The earlier home was a white one, so Huzefa and Jasem decided to move towards colour this time. In the foyer near the entrance, a cabinet with nine drawers for storing footwear displays all the colours used in the house, butterfly handles contributing to the playful note; a cantilevered bench to seat one person is an extension of the cabinet. “The space is characterised by a layered environment full of textures, prints, patterns and colours,” says Jasem. A happy amalgamation of opposites is seen: ethnic and modern; neutrals and punchy vibrant colours; and textured and smooth; making it plush as well as playful.
“The flooring and the baths were provided by the builder, which we didn’t want to rip open, so we concentrated our energies on vertical surfaces and the ceiling,” says Jasem. A den cum bedroom leads off the foyer, a low day bed against one corner. A boxy wardrobe in dark green doesn’t shy away from displaying its colour, drawing attention to its dramatic presence across the bed. The veneer on its PU coated surface has a hand milled pattern, adding detail to the monolith.
Further inside, the living-dining room is a 900 sq ft expanse, in which a sofa functions as a linear island to organise the space; the dining table folds into a 10-seater to face the television. “Meals are important in our home,” says Jasem. “The frequent entertaining celebrates togetherness as well as food.”
The chairs at the table invite attention with the heavily textured fabric (simulating sailing rope) on their backrests, the black chandelier above successfully straddling an intricate as well as contemporary aesthetic. The long bench on one side of the table has an I-section for support. The adjacent kitchen has shutters in teal, with black mosaic tiles for a back splash.
“The focus in the living-dining room is provided by an object-like Corian clad unit. Connected with the sofa, it creates one 20-foot-long unit. Placed in the centre of the living room, it is an informal space organiser – defining the dining area, a TV lounge area and a living area for entertaining. This has resulted in creating pockets, providing opportunities for smaller groups to have conversations. The coffee table in front of the sofa has two pull-out poufs which double as footrests, if needed, while the bench at the dining table can also be used for seating while facing the television. Every piece of fixed and loose furniture has been customised with conscious detailing and various construction techniques being employed,” says Huzefa.
The chest of drawers has ‘waves’ on its front, created by CAD and then through CNC milling.The screen alongside is an abstracted version of the veins on a leaf. Demanding craftsmanship, it adds one more layer of pattern and drama to the space. The walls are in one of three finishes; veneer, Spanish tiles or a concrete finish. Only the ceilings have paint, the halo lights on them being customised, with dimmable LEDs.
A dumbbell shaped wooden bench against the stained veneer wall has free flowing organic lines and has been created by laminating logs of reclaimed Burma teak together. “It weighs about 450 kilograms,” says Jasem. “A credenza unit has been formed by routing the front fascia of the drawers. Wardrobe shutters with veneer on veneer inlay have been handcrafted on site. We converted our own house into a design laboratory.”
The bedrooms have a corridor lined with wardrobes at the entrance. The son’s bedroom has sprinkles of orange as an accent; the armchair is upholstered in a Shibori fabric. One daughter’s room is in fuchsia and black, the pattern on the wardrobes an abstraction of a plant leaf. “All the patterns have been inspired by nature,” says Jasem.
On the wall behind the headboard, a rectilinear installation runs horizontally on the wall, echoing the geometry on the wardrobe. But this is no mere drawing board exercise forced into production to create an eyesore. Functioning as a sculpture during the day, it is a light by night – taking the place of art on the wall that one may expect to see.
Cognisant of the fact that there was no art collection to display, Huzefa and Jasem have provided the art through their detailing. “You can’t just buy art off the shelf. It takes many years to build a collection,” says Jasem. But this deficiency is more than made up for by the “come hither” aesthetic in the detailing, inviting a closer look as well as tactile exploration.
“We wanted to take craftsmanship to the next level,” says Huzefa. “This is what provides the ‘pause moments’. There is a combination of digital designs and handcrafting. The aesthetic is tied with craftsmanship, but explored with colour.” Clearly, juggling apparently incompatible colours and patterns insouciantly – and very successfully – is child’s play to Huzefa and Jasem.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photographs Courtesy Sameer Tawde