The aesthetic protagonists of a three-level bungalow just outside Pune have been put together with Rajiv Saini’s signature flair. The bespoke space bristles with furniture and lighting from some of the world’s best-known designers, all insouciantly rubbing shoulders.
Intended as a show villa for a developer, to be retained later for personal use, Rajiv Saini has pulled out all the stops in this 6,000 sq ft space. ‘The only brief was that the home should be attractive enough for people from Mumbai to make the trek. Since it was a holiday home, I felt that the aesthetic should reflect a casual, relaxed feel,’ says Rajiv. However, it could be a primary house for a resident of Pune, with its location in the suburbs of the city.
The ground floor houses the living and dining rooms, kitchen, the staff room, utilities, guest suite and powder room. The first floor has the junior suite, a bedroom and the media room. The second floor houses a gym, the master suite with the outdoor deck for its bath, study, and a mini bar with a coffee maker. The home has its own front and rear gardens, and a lap pool directly facing the golf course.
The corridor leading to the living room from the main entrance has wood panelling on one wall, with a canvas titled ‘Birth of Sea’ by Mahesh Baliga on the opposite wall. “There were too many different doors leading off from here to the guest room, lift, powder room and a shaft. The panelling disguises all of these, so that the wall appears to be an unbroken stretch,” says Rajiv. The accent chair in yellow is from Muuto.
“Floors throughout are covered in a cool pale grey terrazzo, barring timber in the gym and movie room. Polished plaster grey walls beautifully deflect light throughout the space, and offset the slender polished bronze railing running vertically along the terrazzo staircase,” says Rajiv.
The double height living room is furnished with pieces by Nakashima, Perriand and Lissoni. The floor lamp in the corner is by Isamu Noguchi, designed in1951 for Vitra, with the Conoid Bench by Geogre Nakashima sitting with its back to the window. The artwork on the wall is titled ‘Pink Horse,’ by Tanujaa Rane, while the hanging Moon light is by Davide Groppi. These are complemented by a bronzed dining table in the dining room, its ceiling enveloped in Afromosia veneer. Low chairs at the dining table enable cross legged seating, if desired. The table itself is only two feet high.
Hovering above part of the living room is a large wooden box with one side sporting a slatted screen to create an interactive connection with the living space below. Unsupported by any visible columns, it houses the junior suite. Within, a desk overlooks the space below, the sofa in the living room being clearly visible.
Artworks by Minal Damani and Pooja Iranna add splashes of colour to the walls. In the en suite bath, a TV adds to the luxury quotient of soaking in the white San Marino Italian marble tub. The house has a total of seven baths, two of which have generous proportions. In one of them the wash basin is a long trough, intersected by the tub, part of which goes under the basin.
“The kitchen is from Boffi with Miele appliances, but we made the table for the island in solid timber. The pendant lights in different shapes are by Japanese designer Nao Tamura, their colours inspired by the water in Venice,” says Rajiv. The white lacquer of the shutters is paired with stainless steel counter tops. The kitchen is connected to the utilities and staff accommodation areas and is a seamless extension of the living space when its doors slide out of sight into pockets.
The guest room has a copper wardrobe, while a Claire Arni photograph on canvas adorns the wall behind the bed. The ceiling light is from Flos. In another bedroom, an antique Berber rug from Morocco sits on the floor, while an Atul Bhalla photograph adorns the wall.
The side tables are small cantilevered boxes, with the black three-armed light on the wall behind the headboard being from Serge Mouille. In the media room, instead of the customary leather seating there is a traditional Indian cotton quilted mattress which is under lit as well as backlit. The walls are covered with Japanese rice paper, while the ceiling appears to float, due to the cove at its periphery.
The master suite consists of an amalgamation of three rooms. A screen separates the sleeping and sitting areas. The bed consists of a 12-inch mattress on an elevated wooden platform, edged by a sliced tree trunk about 20 feet in length whose irregular edge defines the change in level. “The height of the bed ensures that you get the best views of the golf course, while shelving units from Restart Milano are at hand, should you choose to read in bed,” says Rajiv. The floor has diagonal walnut strips, contrasting with the conventional direction in which the wood on the upper level is laid.
A bespoke bronze console with a Vincenzo Di Cotis Lamp on it sits beside the platform of the bed. A black stained wooden lattice screen separates the bed from the lounge and television space. A linen covered sofa panelled in mustard nubuck leather with bronze details is paired with Carlo Mollino’s Gilda chair, while a large black and white photo of Mumbai’s harbour by Ketaki Sheth looks down from the wall. The closet has linen clad wardrobes. “A study and a pantry are concealed behind sliding screens of bamboo panels from Thailand,” says Rajiv.
In the bath, Brazilian timber panelling and white Italian marble make for a luxurious aesthetic. A private terrace with outdoor showers and green walls completes the facilities. The black and white paved terrace, offering panoramic views of the 100-acre development, offers the perfect place for evening lounging in its four-poster teakwood bed and sling chairs. The double height family gym is also located on this floor.
While the iconic furniture and lighting in this home are by international designers, the art is by Indian artists. But displaying it is not just a matter of driving a nail into the wall. “Art is not just about pretty pictures. I like to push the way we hang it,” says Rajiv. So paintings may sit off-centre behind a bed, visually balancing with the mass of a window on one side, as they do in the junior suite in this house.
With a carefully curated collection of art, lighting and furniture, the esoteric appeal of this home is afforded by both high-end luxurious furnishings and an unambiguously sophisticated aesthetic.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photographs Courtesy Sebastian Zachariah