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

VM&RD - - COLUMN - Mansi Lavsi

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

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