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New Normal: Design for Isolation

‘For us as a design company when we see our clients, though it is their house, adapt and maintain the lifestyle we have curated for them through our design gives us a push to do more. They are one such client of ours. The passion we had in making the house for them then had stayed with them all along. So when we were given an opportunity again we were overzealous. The design inspiration this time was the glamorous Florida homes which have the same aura as this one, with uninterrupted sea views with a glimpse of skyline’, says Ar. Manish Dikshit, Aum Architects


Your firm recently won an award for Pinnacle 221.  We are curious to know the challenges faced and the contentment at the end of realisation of this project. 

Pinnacle house, Malad, Mumbai, Maharashtra, team Aum
photographs: Prashant Bhat

We had initially designed and executed this penthouse 6 years ago. So when the client came to us again to redesign it we knew of the pros and cons of the site. We took this as an opportunity to glorify and revamp the space like it was brand new. There were a few constraints which we had to work around. The staircase though placed in a corner created a subtle bifurcation in the large living room. So to tie an aesthetic around this staircase was crucial.  Also the living room had two windows but we chose to break the central wall and turn it into one large window. The impact of this is that the same space started looking far more voluminous. We also chose to break away from mundane usage of materials. We have created an entire façade at the entrance wrapped in St. Angelo marble including the door. With marble cladding on either side of the door, towards the entrance it camouflages with the wall panel and to the inside of the house it becomes the focus.

What had driven you to be committed to this project so passionately?  From where you drew your inspirations? 

Like i mentioned earlier, we got associated with the client 6 years back, also having done their office we had stayed in touch throughout these years. For us, as a design company when we see our clients, though it is their house, adapt and maintain the lifestyle we have curated for them through our design gives us a push to do more. They are one such client of ours. The passion we had in making the house for them then had stayed with them all along. So, when we were given an opportunity again we were overzealous. The design inspiration this time was the glamorous Florida homes which have the same aura as this one, with uninterrupted sea views with a glimpse of skyline.

What is sustainable interiors: definition, concept and famous examples, both local and global.

In a sustainable practise, especially in interiors, one needs to not only focus on environment-friendly materials controlling the carbon footprint, but also imbibe a sense of longevity in the design. The focus is on functionality, accessibility and aesthetics keeping in mind environmental conditions. This is especially needed in interiors that is driven by various styles and trends. The interpretation of the user and its eventual juxtaposition to the design can help keep that need to constantly change away. Upcycling is something that has been in vogue globally, efficient use of the space, use of renewable and sustainable products. If you think locally, our traditional houses were planned and executed in the most sustainable manner. We are taking a turn to follow a lot of those now; but terming it as a trend of sustainability.

Post COVID-19, what is going to be the New Normal in your design strategy? What on space/budget constraints?

Design is going to get sensitive now; it always was but it wasn’t primary, if i may so. The new criteria is going to be to design for isolation – a self sufficient way of life. Interior design has always been very psychological and the more you understand the client’s needs and his situations, the better you are in translating that into a design. We as a practise have always followed it. So I do not see as much of a conflict in it.

We have worked across various scales both in terms of size and budget pre COVID-19. So, it is not as much of a challenge as I see it. Today, we are an industry with many possibilities and alternatives available to execute our vision.

Tell us on material selection.

There is no special preference when it comes to selection. It is subjective to the client brief. With lighting, we have been using the latest innovations of controlled and automatic lighting. LED light fixtures, try to amplify natural lighting with the use of the right colours and materials.

What are you working on now?

We are working on some new proposals and also developing the designs of some projects that had been finalised at the start of the lockdown. We are also taking this time to improvise on our skills and learn new things.

Do you have a secret wish? A building you’d like to create in the near future.

Can’t say one particular building. Anything that comes our way has always had a new aspect to it. So every challenge is exciting. Yes would love to work on Designing a Water Harbour as this was my first creative vision as an architect. This was my final year design project as a student of Architecture. To may be, work on it now would be interesting.

What books would you recommend for upcoming architects/and others to read?

We have an immense amount of literature on architecture. History, trends, styles,learning from the master, from technical to aesthetic. One needs to enrich himself in it; it could be books, podcasts, videos. Being aware is the most important skill of an architect.

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