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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

An ephemeral workspace

By Beverly Pereira
Photography: Pankaj Anand; courtesy SRDA
Read Time: 2 mins
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HomeTown Office (inset) Ar. Samira Rathod

Marked changes in workplace culture call for them being continually redefined. Samira Rathod of architectural and interior practice SRDA works on an altogether different tangent, where camaraderie rules and the ‘desk’ is a piece of art!

At the Hometown office in Kanjurmarg, Mumbai, employees are for the most part engaged in group discussions before they return to policy-making at their individual desks. Considering this, along with the limited budget and timeline, SRDA’s design process involves the provision of ample flexibility - of both people and furniture - by creating various tiers of meeting spaces that encourage employees to meet, mingle and exchange important notes, within departments and in the general office. 

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So, the spaces are chiselled by design to appear like narrow corridors allowing colleagues to have a quick chat much like they would on a street; built around the concept of a park, the conference room appears much like a courtyard, large enough for a 100-person gathering that promotes ease in communication of Hometown’s seasonal concepts; as three unsightly columns masquerade as booths, becoming ‘follies’ (focal points) that add a distinct design element. Treated with cork and insulation for utmost privacy, the booths are large enough for an impromptu meeting of two or three employees, or small enough to accommodate a single person on an intense phone call. 

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While cabins are fixed on the southwest side, meeting tables and Wagner-inspired chairs, can be moved around as desired. Around eight or nine customised meeting tables by The Big Piano, SRDA’s furniture wing, become focal points of the office. Steering clear of pop colours, these all-wood tables with exposed joinery speak of diligent craftsmanship and are exemplary of Hometown’s eye for design. 

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The library is home to company products, instead of books, serving as a space for new recruits to browse catalogues and understand office operations. Also present is a studio for in-house furniture shoots. 

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As maximum light source filters in from the north and east, the material palette is based on their quality of bringing in and reflecting light: ribbed glass, white epoxy flooring, Terrazzo flooring, red acrylic, mirror and light-coloured fabrics. 

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Resembling drifting clouds, suspended lamps are crafted from laminate sheets, cotton scrapings in plastic sheets, and polycarbonate sheets. In fact, with electrical supply restricted to the ceiling and the absence of a false ceiling, everything in this light and airy office appears to float. Exposed wiring, drop-down lines, floating desks and switches that allow employees to plug things above the desk further add to the ephemeral aesthetic and overall flexibility. 

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