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Years ago, when we bought our first house, the thought of using the services of an interior designer never crossed our minds. Young, in our early 20s, perhaps the only thought on my mind was to just move into a house. If the space was functional and livable, it more than served the purpose than deal with an intimidating houseowner.
Who thought about aesthetics, space utilization, study, pooja, or color coordination? One night, I remember sitting on the floor by the door of our 2-bedroom rented home and complaining to my husband the project we had undertaken so early in life. With him traveling, the exhaustion of a full-time job, going around town looking for floor tiles on a scooty, and getting them transported across town caught up with me.
Fast forward to 2014. This week, for the most part, I’ve been sifting through pictures from the portfolios of interior designers. Anything that swept me off my feet? I wouldn’t be honest if I said yes. But, may be that’s just me because I don’t like garish interiors with too much wood, false ceiling, a lot of accessories and such. But, there was one that stood out distinctly from over hundreds of images. I’m being methodical for a change with this project: going room by room looking at pictures and portfolios of interior designers. Coincidentally, the first picture I clicked for every room belonged to the same person: the Banerji residence designed by deCode architecture.
DeCoDe Architecture is a multi-disciplinary design practice specializing in architecture and interior design consultancy. With over 10 years of professional experience working for various offices in New York City and Bombay, the partners in the practice follow the adage: Keep it simple.
I’ll let you see the pictures and decide if I was biased in my judgement.
Here are snippets of my conversation with Meghna and Prashant, the founders of deCode:
Personally, what drew me to your work even while scanning hundreds of pictures was the clean color palette, not over-the-top, minimal design. I noticed some recurring colors and themes as well: rocking chair, touches of aqua wall color, wood not being the focus point of a room yet there is enough storage. Correct me if I’m wrong. So, what is your design philosophy?
We follow the adage: Keep it simple. Our work tends to be quiet, subtle and subdued putting the focus on the experience rather than the expense. We tend to design functional spaces that are free of physical and visual clutter. Our belief is that a home should be comfortable and a container for memories, light, space and art.
What do you find more challenging: to design a small space or a big one?
Every project we work on comes with it’s own challenges and we approach every project on it’s own merit. A small space is as challenging as any big space as there are a number of variables involved with every project such as client, function, budget, location etc., which determine the difficulty of a project or space.
How do you balance functionality and aesthetics, for example in a kitchen or a bathroom?
Function and form have always had a tenuous connection. We always design the space to function at it’s optimum and then overlay it with form or aesthetics. A space like the bathroom or a kitchen needs to function well but also needs to have enough light, ventilation and be comfortable and pleasing to use or work in. For e.g., we prefer granite counters for kitchens because Indian kitchens have heavy usage of spices and oils and granite is a hard stone that does not stain but we design the counters with a modern linear aesthetic. Similarly, wet areas in bathrooms are always designed keeping in mind slippage and we select tiles that have a grip on them or natural stone floors.
A project close to your heart and why?
All our projects till date and the next one on the drawing board.
Your work spans countries. How is it different (in terms of materials, kitchen design, tiles etc) used for projects in India and U.S.? Any glaring differences and similarities?
As an office, both the partners have experience working in boutique practices in New York, USA and in India. We have experience working on multiple project typologies. In this day and age, there are many similarities between work abroad and in India. With globalization, all possible materials are available in India now and India is a customer base for many international companies and suppliers. The skilled labor in India is above par and the craftsmen in India are as good as anywhere in the world. However, one aspect that is lacking in India is the level of professionalism and control that the architects, contractors and the clients in the west bring to the table and is yet unmatched in India.
Lastly, this is a recurring question I get from readers of the blog. From an interiors point of view, the top three things new home owners should take care of that makes it easier later for a interior designer.
If you are a new home buyer:
- Hire an architect or an interior designer before you get possession of the apartment. This will help the designer plan for new walls and partitions in the apartment and re-route electrical and plumbing services for the new design that can be incorporated by the builder/developer during completion of the building.
- Be very clear about your requirements or your design brief. Sit down as a family and incorporate everyone’s requirements into one cohesive brief.
- Do your research about the developer/builder to make sure that the home you are buying is from a reputed developer and can ensure quality construction.
Don’t you feel the pictures of all their projects resonate with their philosophy of keeping it simple and are devoid of visual clutter.
If you would like the deCode team to design your space, get in touch with them here.
Image courtesy: deCoDe architecture