Pulling the right aesthetic strings…
Emotions of security, warmth and possessiveness led to the birth of 'Moh'- the name given to endearment. An old apartment was stripped down to conceive a pret studio which would create a soft corner in the hearts of everyone who visited the store. Located
The need was for a residential space to be converted into an opulent boutique; little wonder that the designer was royally put to test. “It was home to someone with all the living spaces in place which made the site quite fragmented. The task was to transform the space into one single retail space. We decided to use the fragments to our advantage and create zones for an experiential journey. The store had to communicate Meeta's (the owner) personality and design decisions were taken accordingly. She being a socialite, it mattered how the store introduced itself to the clientele,” said Niraj Shah, Design Director at IDO Design, giving an outline sketch on the firm's endeavour to endow the boutique with prolific silhouettes. The site posed a paradoxical case for design in context to its architectural attributes. The windows on the periphery had to be eternally shut for desired light settings and the fore had to be unbarred to create the exterior interior visual fluidity. The facade was exposed to flaunt the store and a wall was erected in front to create mystical conundrums at the entrance. This wall ferments an inviting entry and stands as the backdrop to introduce the name. A soon to be opened cafeteria space, which for obvious reasons is called Maya, lies between the wall and the door to the store. It suggests a place that wants you to stay for a longer duration. Say you're standing at the entrance; what is it that draws you in? Right from the entrance, it's an eye-to-eye with the floor length chandelier. Although designed modestly, with strings suspended from rings at different levels of 3 different diameters and lit from within, this chandelier represents charisma and speaks for the entire store as an icon of finesse. When the doors open, you're standing right in front of this cluster of light in a foyer which has deliberate intentions of creating a pause in the movement flow. The fact that there is a staircase leading downward right next to the door, establishes the existence of a basement space and the cutout below the chandelier proves to be a visual connection for the two levels. The mannequins in the foyer, modeling as a preview to the store, are study mannequins sourced from Japan with joints that can be turned. They add to the concept of a 'boutique' and set it apart from the elements of a conventional retail store.
When it came to setting up the display, the site presented an issue of too many rooms to work with and inconsistent heights. The idea of wall displays was trashed and central displays manifested. Way finding was guided through these displays and the fragments seemed to have opened up. It was a labyrinth and new spaces were revealed as you walk deeper into the 5000 sq. ft. of space. The displays start with pret garments moving on to the discussion space and as one advances further, the garments as well as the price tag weigh heavier. “I wanted a boutique which can cater to my clients on a regular basis. Pret wear, which the woman of today can consider office wear is the core of my collection and the designers I work with are also chosen accordingly. So the place had to look luxurious but not unaffordable. I would say it has a modern look with a rustic feel to it, ” summarizes Meeta Manglani, the owner of the store, on the design brief. The discussion space is suggestive of a friendly attitude and when teamed with classical furniture, it speaks of a professional demeanor. The flooring in this space is vinyl to distinguish it from the rest of the store which is floored with flex-c-ment; a material used to do away with joints and lay a uniform surface. There is significant attention to detail with the choice of flooring materials. Considering that the space itself is fragmented, the flooring had to be joint-less. Also, the change in flooring for the discussion space marks the change in function and appeal of that space. The walls have been painted beige so that no eyes are diverted from the merchandise. A very palpable point of the brief was that the garment should be the hero. Maroon, the colour established as the boutique's signature shade, is spread over the ceiling expanse. A brush of gold is added for enhanced appeal. Display stands made from MS (mild steel) are topped with MS balls to keep the hangers in place. Frosted glass box with plywood on topa minimalistic design to serve as the purveyor of ambient lighting has secured its position in the centre of the display stands. Spotlighting is a necessity to highlight the garments and track lights are used for the same. These tracks are equipped with a combination of white and yellow lights. Non-track yellow LED lights were must-haves for the glamour appeal. Hand-painted sketches created in-house at the designer's office were put up to convey a sense of a boutique cum studio. Beveled mirror frames used at places in the store and glossy faux leather at the cash counter propose a contrast in the rawness of the space with a hint of sophistication. Talking about the amenities, the cash counter has ample space around and its location and articulation is based purely on convenience. The trial rooms use space to their benefit and are large enough for two people. Halogen lights are used in the trial rooms as a deliberate attempt to make the customer look glam. A technological design feature, which the designer Niraj Shah emphasized on, is the use of cameras at the entrance. If a customer enters the store at a time when the owner is not around, a message goes to Meeta's phone with the customer's picture so that she can personally attend to her. To sum up, this is a not-too-frugal, yet rustic boutique with tonnes of style