Apr 05, 2023

In this Mumbai home, the allure of wabi

By Deepa Nair

Photography by Kuber Shah

A soon-to-wed young man approached interior designer Sahiba Madan who heads Insitu Design Studio (OPC) Pvt Ltd, to design his post marriage home in Mumbai. The site, a 1,700-square-foot apartment, was located on the 15th floor of a high-rise, had high ceilings and large windows in the living area that streamed in abundant natural light. "The view from each area of the apartment revealed a little of the city. We looked at maximising this visual connection through our spatial planning," explains Madan. The scheme devised, realigned a few walls and reoriented the access of two rooms for a visible link between most areas of the apartment and the surroundings.

The stucco-finished ceiling is made from a combination of gypsum, aluminium framework and moulded POP, and hides LED lighting in its curves.

Warm terracotta tiles, a custom-designed bench, and cane wall art and lamp sourced from the local market create a calming milieu.

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"The client's design brief largely revolved around the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. The larger requirements were to maximise storage whilst retaining the spaciousness of the apartment," she remarks. As wabi-sabi refers to the appreciation and acceptance of beauty in imperfect forms and nature, the design language of this home evolved keeping these humble principals at heart.

A single bed with storage was the requirement for the grandmother's room. Shades of white along with wood, and artworks from Etsy create a soothing atmosphere.

This room also doubles up as a study.

In consequence, a fine ensemble of natural materials like stucco plaster, teakwood and stone were chosen to offset the warmth of neutral tones. Further, to craft a modern minimalist home, sculptural furniture and artworks in mixed media were balanced by a functional approach to space planning and smart storage solutions.

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The compact bedroom for the daughter flaunts a bohemian aesthetic with lime-plastered walls, wainscoting, and furniture made from wood, veneer and cane. The only artwork here is a vibrant Richa Kashelkar creation, while the pendant light is from Freedom Tree.

The bed back is draped in an engaging colourful fabric. Note the side table which doubles up as a dresser with a full length mirror.

Madan's key design intent was to retain the airy impression of the original apartment without compromising on the functional requirements. And so, the Italian marble flooring was retained, layers of warmth were added through wood panelling and furniture.

The backdrop for the bed in the master bedroom is a MDF wall panel (in light grey blue lime plaster stucco paint) detailed with soft curves and indirect lighting.

"We worked with different grains and shades of wood to create interesting textures. Lime plaster was used as a large canvas to tie together the various shapes of furniture we explored through tables, seating and storage. The overall idea was to find balanced minimalism that would address the client's initial brief and the larger idea of home," explains Sahiba.

A custom-designed wallpaper from Kalakaari Haath forms the backdrop for the wood and fabric backed headboard and bed in the parent's bedroom.

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Effectively, the largest volume of the apartment, the living room, manifests organic shapes and forms in furniture, fixtures and accessories—which are defined by clean, rectilinear wooden framework. The lime plaster texture on the walls and wabi-sabi inspired curios reaffirm the design approach.

Plants from Plant People, accessories from H&M Home and Kinfolk, and artworks by Keph Design Studio and Richa Kashelkar add pops of colour to the calm and striking living space. A contemporary rug from Jaipur Rugs imparts softness and warmth.

The impressive Burma teak dining table flaunts a quartz stone from Kalinga Stones. The wooden strips, veneer, fluted glass and rattan unit set close to the dining table is a beautifully-crafted multi-functional piece of furniture. Note the rafters above the dining table which visually break the dining from the living.

The cabinets in the kitchen are crafted from plywood with shutters finished in veneer, laminate and fluted glass. The counter and backsplash are both in textured granite stone.

The dining area and the kitchen adapt beautifully to the highly functional demands of these areas, albeit with subtle charm brought in through bespoke furniture pieces. A little ahead, an impressive false ceiling leads one to the private chambers that are individually detailed out with concepts tied around monochrome colour schemes, foliage wallpapers, textured walls and furniture designed with wood, stone and cane.

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