At home with style

The Priyadarshini Rao La­bel is a por­trait of the at­tire ex­pres­sions of women to­day who stand for per­son­al­ized style state­ments. To the core au­di­ence of this de­signer, fash­ion is self sig­ni­fied. The Priyadarshini Rao store at Khar, Mum­bai, is a phys­i­cal re

VM&RD - - COLUMN - Mansi Lavsi

Clad in un­der­tones of an in­dus­trial pal­ette, the store frames its char­ac­ter to suit the sharply cut gar­ments in freshly mined stone tones based on In­dian tex­tiles and weaves. Ac­cents of In­dian el­e­ments add the fin­ish­ing touch to the store's rhythm. As the store de­signer Te­jal Mathur, out­lines, "One di­a­logue with the stat­uesque de­signer, Priy­darshini Rao, and I could imag­ine her stum­bling upon a loft-like space in, let’s say, a Wil­liams­burg in Brook­lyn with the struc­ture as it is and adding sub­tle In­dian el­e­ments to form the sto­ry­board for the store. And from that point on the idea took form and evolved or­gan­i­cally as I went on." One look at the store and the Priyadarshini Rao name it­self stirs a se­ries of ex­pec­ta­tions in the cus­tomer. The 1,100 square feet of ex­hibit has its ac­cess from a leafy by-lane. Rough ce­ment pat­terned floor­ing fash­ioned ex­clu­sively for this store lays the car­pet to the en­try. This floor­ing fol­lows in con­ti­nu­ity in­side the store as well. The store fa­cade does full jus­tice to those ex­pec­ta­tions, cre­at­ing a wel­com­ing en­trance. The store en­try be­gins with a few steps to a raised plat­form which set the pace for the move­ment and with enough glaz­ing re­veal­ing a trailer to the drama to be un­folded in­side. The win­dows dis­play in its sim­plic­ity does not make the cus­tomer pause in her tracks and in­stead keeps the move­ment flow­ing. The doors to the in­te­rior are made like flaps in an other­wise con­sis­tent store front which add to the wel­com­ing tone. Cross­ing the thresh­old, one is ex­posed to what we may call the world of Priyadarshini Rao cou­ture. A cof­fee ta­ble with a chan­de­lier, which looks straight out of the baroque era, but which at the same time gives off the vibes of a homely en­trance, com­plete the pic­ture. The dis­plays are zoned as per the collection be­gin­ning with the for­mal wear and mov­ing on to In­dian wear and pret In­dian col­lec­tions. The store houses men's wear as well and it has its own ded­i­cated sec­tion. Am­ple move­ment space, large mir­rors and ad­e­quate seat­ing spa­ces sug­gest lux­u­ri­ous re­tail ther­apy. The trial rooms have been en­dowed with el­e­ments of a pri­vate dress­ing room. They are very spa­cious and can be ex­panded or col­lapsed to serve as one or two trial rooms. Cus­tomer com­fort has been treated with a hands-on at­ti­tude. The over­all am­bi­ence spells of an in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence where the pace is slow and the cus­tomer can in­habit the space like it’s a world of her own.

To cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence such as this, the de­sign had to be treated right with el­e­ments to cre­ate the right am­bi­ence and com­ple­ment the mer­chan­dise. “The store has to be an ex­ten­sion of the la­bel's per­son­al­ity, which is ev­ery­day lux­ury cloth­ing for a cus­tomer. The store must in­vite the cus­tomer to em­brace that life­style. We are es­sen­tially look­ing at a store that dis­plays not more than 400 pieces and not over-de­tailed in terms of fea­tures and ac­cents that take away from the cloth­ing. As we sell western as well as In­dian cloth­ing, the prove­nance of the store must seem neu­tral with slight Asian in­flu­ence. Post­mod­ern vin­tage is how I would de­scribe it,” ex­plains the fash­ion la­bel cre­ator Priyadarshini Rao on how the de­sign of her re­tail abode had to ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate the core of her of­fer­ings. A loft-like space with his­tor­i­cal con­no­ta­tions linked to post­mod­ern times, add to it a dash of in­dus­trial feel but jux­ta­posed with sub­tle fem­i­nine ex­pres­sions; and it pretty much sums up the store as far as the de­sign lan­guage is con­cerned. With a 12 feet ceil­ing height, there's enough to con­vey a sense of per­va­sive space. The un­pol­ished ce­ment floor­ing, cre­ated in its ex­clu­siv­ity, em­anates an old world fin­ish. Ex­posed brick walls have been painted white and the ceil­ing left un­fin­ished which takes us back in time. The walls are 2-3 brick thick which speaks of age-old con­struc­tion pat­terns. The ex­posed pipe net­work and non-ducted air-con­di­tion­ing fur­ther the com­po­si­tion of an ‘over grunged’ space. In­dus­trial lamps hung from the ceil­ing are bal­anced with hand­crafted fur­ni­ture sourced from all over the coun­try in­clud­ing Mum­bai Flea Mar­ket, Agra and Pondicherry, and it adds to the vin­tage el­e­ments of the plate. The an­cient baroque chairs and carved mir­rors pro­nounce so­phis­ti­ca­tion and en­hance the stylish ap­peal. The colour pal­ette builds on the same con­cept with use of muted hues like whites, earth and greys. Un­fin­ished sur­faces could not ask for a bet­ter com­bi­na­tion. An im­me­di­ate eye catcher and, what Te­jal Mathur be­lieves to be the high­light of the de­sign, are the hang­ing rods. Carved wooden plates used as rod ends sym­bol­ize in­tri­cate at­ten­tion to de­tail. They are in­stant at­ten­tion grab­bers and have a high prob­a­bil­ity of be­ing the sig­na­ture for the store. As for the store’s light­ing, in­dus­trial look­ing light fix­tures are off­set by well-fin­ished fo­cus lights that throw the spot­light on the prod­ucts. Warm lights are an in­dis­putable choice to set the mood of the con­cept. The light­ing has also been done as per the zonal re­quire­ments. LED lights have been used as a prac­ti­cal ap­proach. Deep tones come through as a com­pre­hen­sive re­sult of the light­ing de­sign which suits the tastes of both the de­sign­ers and show­case the mer­chan­dise in its most beau­ti­fied form.

In the words of Priyadarshini Rao, "The store talks of a life­style it wants its cus­tomers to adopt. Many have de­scribed it as a home of some­one with good taste. There is ad­e­quate seat­ing at all parts of the store and if one wants to sit down and have a con­ver­sa­tion over a cup of cof­fee, it’s just the right am­bi­ence there." If we talk of the mood stirred by the co­her­ent re­sult of the likes of two im­pec­ca­ble de­sign­ers, it could be summed up as tran­quil. The loft like space pre­sents a can­vas to the work of art of the renowned la­bel and helps in spot­light­ing the collection. This com­pli­ments an im­por­tant idea of the brief; 'In­dul­gent, but not harsh on the clothes or the wearer', which was taken quite se­ri­ously to cre­ate a fem­i­nine set­ting which not to be in­ter­preted as del­i­cate. The store is also a plat­form to show­case jew­ellery by Bharathi Raviprakash who en­ters Mum­bai through this Priyadarshini Rao store af­ter mark­ing her pres­ence in Chen­nai and Ban­ga­lore

De­sign Team Te­jal Mathur: Head De­signer, Team De­sign Ash­neet Kohli: De­sign Co-or­di­na­tor, Team De­sign Raisha Go­ra­dia: De­sign Co-or­di­na­tor, Team De­sign

Lights & Light­ing

Fo­cus Light­ing, Mum­bai


Te­jal Mathur De­signs, Mum­bai


Bharat Floors, Fort, Mum­bai

Fur­ni­ture Big Door, Ban­dra, Te­jal Mathur De­signs, the Flea Mar­ket in Mum­bai

In-Store me­dia

U&I Com­plete Of­fice So­lu­tions, Mum­bai

Ma­te­rial/s used for the store Man­nequins from BasX Man­nequins, Switzer­land Ceil­ing (the type of ceil­ing that is de­vel­oped / de­signed)

SN Sharma, Con­trac­tors

Se­cu­rity Sys­tems

Gu­rutek-Mum­bai, and An­chor Com­put­ers

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