Opposites are not contradictory, they are complementary ~ Niels Bohr
This house is a testament to that; it defies all the rules of design by proudly embracing exceptions. Home to a family of seven spanning two generations, this 5-BHK apartment in Mumbai has been one of the most ambitious projects conceptualized and executed by Mumbai-based interior design firm MuseLAB till date. Step into the blissfully decorated family home of Jasem Pirani, one of the founders of MuseLAB.
Designing a house for yourself or your parents puts you in a unique architect-client relationship. When presented with this opportunity – we jumped right at it. This was our opportunity to experiment and showcase design process. – Jasem & Huzefa
It’s not very often that you get to see how designers create their own homes. Being their own clients can be uninhibiting yet challenging. As Jasem emphasizes in an interview, “the key to designing a space is to define in clear terms what you want and what you don’t want from it.”
Now that I’ve stoked your interest, read on to see the wonders that unfold in this apartment.
Who lives here: Jasem Pirani and his family.
Size: 2,700 sq.ft
Location: Mahalaxmi, Mumbai
Type: A 4-BHK apartment converted into a 5 BHK apartment
Time taken to complete: 11 months
Interior Designer: MuseLAB
Design aesthetic: ethnic and modern; neutrals and punchy vibrant colours; textured and smooth. Yes, it is a mish mash of opposites.
Brief: To convert a 4-BHK into a 5-BHK apartment
This project is christened “Free-spirited” and rightly so. MuseLAB’s co-founder Huzefa Rangwala counts the project as his favorite project thus far. With reason.
One of the firm’s first projects, the warm undertones of the walls perfectly balance the bold pops of colour from the furnishings.
Jasem’s parents gave the firm a creative free hand to put their ideas to test. The family moved here four and half years back and the house now serves as their statement project to showcase their design prowess to prospective clients; it has stood the test of time.
The result is an apartment that is laid back, carefree, and very free-spirited. We pushed the barriers and converted our own home into a design lab to test several concepts”, confesses designer Jasem Pirani
Living + Dining: A Cohesive Unit
The focus of the apartment is the corian clad object like living-dining unit.
The living-dining unit placed in the centre of the approximate 900 sq.ft living room is an informal space organizer – defining the dining area, a TV lounge area and a living area for entertaining. Every piece of fixed and loose furniture has been customized.
Anyone who sees this place first is bound to be intrigued by the positioning of the single large sofa + dining unit in the center. One has to navigate around the living+dining unit to access the rooms at the other end. But, the thought behind combining them was to step away from the norm of having a disjointed living and dining space with the sofas pushed to the windows.
The family entertains a lot and has dinners together every night. In such a large living space, one would typically have to shout across the informal living area to be heard. Thanks to this design, it amalgamates all activities happening in the room.
Pandomo Wall Finish:
The slate gray smooth wall finish gives the illusion of acid washed walls or textured wallpaper. It is neither. The finish is called Pandomo by ARDEX, a self-leveling lightly polished concrete that can be used for walls, floors, and ceilings. The versatile compound mimics concrete but opens up an array of design possibilities as you can see here. This wall finish runs through the house giving it a subdued look.
Bench + Credenza
The signature bench made by laminating logs of wood together is a statement piece. The credenza unit has been formed by routing the front fascia of the drawers. The wavy smooth exterior of the credenza camouflages the hardness of Burma teak wood.
All piece of furniture were made from scratch for the project.
A Dream Kitchen
The sea-green color scheme flows into the 237-square-foot-kitchen as well.
Elaborating on how they designed the kitchen, Pirani says “In our previous house, the kitchen was completely utilitarian. So in contrast, we wanted this kitchen to be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing and personalized. Since my mother loves cooking and spends the better part of her day in the kitchen, we wanted it to be modular, but also customized to her needs and habits”.
The kitchen is divided into two functional spaces: wet and dry separated from each other by a sliding door. The dry area has enough counter space, and comes with a pantry, over head cabinets, a small sink for cooking and built-in appliances like hob, fridge, and ovens. The wet area, on the other hand, is equipped with more storage, a sink and a dishwasher.
“We wanted to create a carefree and relaxed space devoid of strict rules, which is why we have played with numerous colours, textures and finishes,” Pirani adds.
Huzefa confides that a kitchen for the Indian household is the hardest room to design in any project. All thanks to the frenetic activity that takes place in this most-used part of the house from breakfast to post-dinner.
For this workhorse, he says, “We have to ensure the design rides on the virtues of longevity, functionality and aesthetics.”
The brief given by Jasem’s parents was pretty straightforward and simple, ‘to create a 5-BHK apartment from a 4-BHK.’ A den area and a powder bathroom that were a part of the dining-living area were converted into the fifth bedroom.
Wardrobe shutters with veneer on veneer inlay have been handcrafted on site. We converted our own house into a design laboratory.
An after note: I started this house tour just like any other. It has become second nature now. But, I was intrigued as I inserted one picture after the other. Wondering what their drawing boards must have looked like, hours spent conceptualizing every tiny detail like the credenza to that day bed by the window.
I took a step back, shut down everything I was doing, read all the literature there was to read about the founders, and the project. Their site is a delightful read; what I discovered in the end is they truly enjoy the way they work, where they work the people they work with, and the folks they create spaces for. And it shows.
The proof is in the pudding and in this case, it is on this page for all of us to revel in.
Image courtesy: MuseLAB