The design warren has readily remained at its acme position untouched over the last decade and is a perfect balance of art and luxury under one roof
85 Lansdowne, a brand which has transformed the style quotient of the City of Joy since 2007 recently got a make-over and was re-launched at its original destination after an extensive restoration and renovation. One of the city’s prime luxury fashion destinations, 85 Lansdowne, is the brainchild of Shalini Nopany and Pooja Goenka and is promoted by New India Retailing. Designed by Ajay Arya, Interior Design Consultant - A Square Designs , it is an 80-year-old mansion spread over two levels and strategically located on Lansdowne Road, one of the main thoroughfares of the city. The place has been done up in such a manner that it can meet the demands of the contemporary yet traditional fashion clique. The front facade of this stand-alone house has been restored to its original classic look. All architectural features have been kept intact and not been replaced with any modern construction material. The aim was not to replace the structure with anything that could make it look 'cold.' Thus the owners have retained its old wooden louvered windows, verandah railings in wrought iron and all other classic elements. The signage is also very European-Classic in wrought iron with a solid wooded board with '85 Lansdowne' etched and hand painted on it. “The newly renovated store offers you the possibility to browse at your own personal
pace and select your favourite pieces. Based on your moods, interests and emotions you can be equipped for every special moment of social life with our hand picked new collection. The richness of the space meets your personal attitude and creates an effortless luxurious, fresh fashion reality. Shapes and fabrics evoke the details and discipline of this glamour and help you create an image of timeless elegance. This is complemented by our illustrious list of designers who stock with us. Additionally, the store has a new line up of younger, fresh upcoming names to show off as well,” shares Shalini Nopany, Co-owner, 85 Lansdowne.
In terms of designing the space the idea was not only to renovate but also to 'innovate.' Ajay says talking about how the 'Old Calcutta Bari' or house has become a lifestyle destination of Kolkatans, “I thought we could keep the old- bungalow vibe intact, while the interiors could tell a whole new story. We wanted the rustic elements to be replaced with more 'luxe' features, like how fashion globally is today. We wanted the ' classic' to beautifully blend with the uber ' contemporary ' and what is achieved is what I call 'Classic is the new Contemporary!' It is a 5000sq.ft. house split in two levels, ground and the first with 10 ten rooms in all. The plan was to do up the store like a home, with each of the 10 spaces designed as a particular room. There is a
drawing room, a bedroom, a breakfast room, a boudoir, the verandah and even a walk-in closet. The major 'challenge' was not to take away with anything that I myself had created when 85 Lansdowne was first done up in 2007. The store had been adored so much that any change that we now propose, would only had to work for the better. The strategy was to bring this 'traditional house' to modern times with its classic essence intact and just represent it in a very contemporary way. Thus I felt the entire look could be luxurious but subtle.” The subtle look has been maintained through stark white walls and curtains along with a few walls which are bluish-grey that bring out the colours of the garments beautifully. Chequered black and white marble flooring for the common areas and wooden flooring for the rooms, besides the original staircase railings and panelled wall give the oldbungalow look. While mirrors and glass, darkwood shelves and stands in sleek designs, allblack mannequins and edgy furniture add a dash of the contemporary feel to the whole store. As the store has been treated more like a store within a home, zoning plays a vital role in designing the area. The common areas on the ground floor has a 'foyer' used for visual merchandising and has some seating for visitors, while the staircase lobby has a small study area that has been neatly demarcated into the cash and packaging desk. The first large room on the ground floor has a small living room set-up while the room adjacent has a breakfast table (also being used for merchandise display) right in the center. The rooms have merchandise mainly stacked towards the walls and some in the center too. Every fashion designer gets his or her own individual racks or assigned spaces. There is room on the first floor with a huge fourposter bed, while another small room opposite to it is done up like a walk-in and yet another one like a boudoir.
To lend a quaint charm to this house and raise the curiosity quotient of the visitors, lighting has been a very important aspect of interior
design. Ajay shares further on this, “We have planned the lighting in layers. i.e. direct lighting (to specifically fall on the garments), indirect lighting (diffused cove lighting for the ambience) and accent lighting (lamps, chandeliers, suspended lights etc. for decor).”
Although the architectural shell of the space has been left to be classic, the VM is totally
contemporary and very international. “We wanted our racks to be very sleek and also have different rack designs in some of the rooms. What I personally love is the white panelled walls as a backdrop with a-lined racks in muted gold standing on a dark wooden platform. Some of the niches for jewellery and accessories are fully cladded in mirror which look very chic. Thus what worked is the modern presentation with a classic back drop. We wanted to understand how the fashion couture retailing is changing now and where it probably would be in the next decade. We felt that fashion is just getting more and more 'luxe' and thus its presentation should only compliment the entire shopping experience . The interiors too could only compliment the merchandise put for sale and not overpower it any way,” signs off Ajay.
The new store with an enviable line-up, is positioned as an iconic fashion destination, making it the favourite stop for the city glitterati, as well as tourists and shoppers from all over India, Bangladesh and South East Asia. Pooja Goenka, Co-owner, 85 Lansdowne agreeing on the same shares, "Today, 85 Lansdowne's extensive fashion repertoire promises an exquisite mix of clothing and accessories, housing the inimitable collections of eminent fashion designers and balancing it with the brilliance of new talent in the fashion firmament. The clientele comprises fashion conscious, discerning buyers from all parts of India and aboard, who keep coming back to the store for the eclectic collection.”
Ajay Arya, A Square Designs