By Savitha Hira
Photography: Santosh Jadhav; courtesy INTERFACE
Mumbai-based Ar. Kunal Barve’s approach to design brings to the fore his uncanny sensitivity to the site and its inhabitants and his preoccupation with the minutest detail.
This plush apartment in an uptown Mumbai suburb bears the signature of both, the client’s and the architect’s synergies, building a subplot in the narrative of design. The 1800 sq. ft. spread that is home to a family man, whose embroidery business has him travelling widely to meet leading couturiers of the world, is a chic, eclectic mix of modern and period styles with an unmistakable ethnic touch.
So we have a mix of sophisticated European accents vying for attention with exquisite embroidery and passionately laboured detailing: like the handcrafted dining table top with its gazillion precise squares of mother-of-pearl; refined embroidery on the dining chairs; mix of glass and mirror that are designed to create a distorted reflection in the sliding door that separates the living room from the family den, a patchwork headboard vs. a plush leather one in the two distinct bedrooms, a tilted lamp here, a cutwork bedspread, a fretwork panel there…
These various elements are stitched together like the characters of a storyboard, the narrative interspersed with elements of intrigue and awe; yet all the time maintaining balance of modernity, ethnicity, and comfort. There is glamour but understated; there is chutzpah but affable; there is detail so enigmatic that one is admirable of the efforts and feels pampered in the luxury without being in awe of spoiling anything - one is at ease.
Kunal throws in a punch line with an unusual washbasin, where water spouts out from the top of a tilted mirror, underlining the fact that he resonates with his client, who is equally consumed by the finer points of good living.
Eleven years in practice, the architect is constantly evolving as he continues to chisel spaces that “in the best cases are well-grounded in the context and community of their places.”