Monday, December 19, 2016

"Good Design" Decoded (Home Tour)

A creative mix of sophisticated contemporary and traditional Indian design elements transform the Desai’s Mumbai home into a visual payoff. While the home stylishly satisfies modern-day living demands, it also meets the benchmark for authentic personal style. Meaningful collections and fond souvenirs, collected by the family over the years, lends character and enduring style to their private refuge. Home owner Ketan Desai is a jet setter and professionally plays the role of a global CFO to a multinational organization. When he has time on his hands (which is very rare) he can be found enjoying a few strokes of golf. Dipa Desia his better half is a specialist in residential architecture and interiors and has been practicing for over 24 years now. The Desai's elegant home is the result of her expertise in and ability to envision good design. Together they have a son, Dev who has taken after his mother when it comes to pursuing his career. He is currently a student of architecture and a trained potter.
Now since we are acquainted with the Desai family, let's take you on that grand tour of their stunning home. The main entryway to a home is like the cover of a book and its preface. Dipa echoes my thoughts on this and adds, "An entryway speaks volumes about the home owners - their personalities, style sensibilities and gives you a hint of the story of their lives. It should engage you, making you want to cross that threshold to take in all that it has to offer....".The Desai’s entryway does just that. Quoting Dipa on the design significance of her entryway, “Every hint of design in this space is meant to signify the start of my journey with my husband, Ketan Desai. My marriage took me to Hyderabad and then we took our post marriage holiday to Ladakh. I wanted us to remember fondly, where we started from.” From the ornate lotus carving above the door that makes for a grand statement, the jalli partition to the brass Naag Devi door handle (sourced while on a trip to Dharamshala) are all pointers of an effort to incorporate significant aspects from the Desais' life experience and special moments.  
When the door opens, a hint of what the Desais hold dear to their hearts comes into view. A Thota Vaikuntam painting talks of the Desai's love for art while the Jalli feature is a reminder of Dipa's Hyderabad days. Letting us in on the design process for the home, Dipa says, "I mostly get a chance to design contemporary, clean line interiors . When I got down to designing my own home, I knew there were so many stories to be told and numerous memories to cherish and relive. We had collected so many memorabilia along the way that they had to find a special place in our home. As an architect who designed mostly contemporary interiors, I also wanted to show, my clients/patrons,who had dropped the Indian elements out of their homes, how to weave our Indian art , artifacts and traditions along with a contemporary feel."
As we step into the foyer, we are instantly embraced with attractive displays. A carved wooden cabinet re-purposed from furniture pieces that Dipa owned, now serves as a console. The stained glass panels by artist Hema Desai, apart from being a design element, is also there as functional sliding doors that are meant to convert the guest lounge into a guest bedroom when the Desais have company.
A favorite room in the house is the living room. Hands down, the Buddha painting by artist Deepak is the focal point of this space and lends a sophisticated zen yet heart warming impact to the living room. Dipa shares that the idea came from a painted wall that she saw at Norbulingka, Dharamshala. The carved wooden panels were replicated from pictures Dipa had clicked of panels that she fell in love with in Ladakh. "It gives us a sense of calm when we are all lounging around there. Often we just switch off all the other lights, switch on the led votive lights on the Buddha Painting, play some Buddha bar music and end the day with a drink in our hands. It connects us three, soulfully, as a family. We look forward to these moments.", shares Dipa.
An extension of the living room, this area over looks some amazing scenery of the sea. M.F. Hussain painting takes center stage together with another beautiful feature, the hanging couch. The chair that you see is an heirloom piece that has been handed down from Ketan's family for the past two generations. 
Dipa tells me that the biggest challenge while radically reshaping their home was its function, "From a design perspective it had to convert from a large 2.5 bhk to a large 3 bhk. All the internal walls were opened up to incorporate the new plan. But on a more personal level, there was also, the challenge of getting all three of our tastes and styles to fuse as one, so that each of us felt at home. It was also imperative that our home reflect our culture, traditions, upbringing and value systems. I didn't want the three of us to forget what we and our home stood for. It was an interesting but difficult project. Managed to pull it off to all our satisfaction."
The Desais' decision to have an enclosed balcony not only adds more square footage to the home but also allows the family to use this space year round. The marble inlay flooring was deliberately designed to incorporate the royal ambiance that the Desais had experienced on their stay at various palace hotels. The Tiffany style lamp (to the right of the Thota Vaikuntam painting) is hand made by Dipa. She learnt this art form during their stay in Ahmedabad. Absolutely adore that "munimji" table (from Ketan's family home), looks comfortable in its new setting. 
The kansa dinnerware that you see was part of Dipa's wedding trousseau. The "Milkmaid" print at the far end of the dining table is from the Louvre Museum in Paris. If you look beyond the Jalli partition, the ceiling of the foyer area is visible. The design for the wooden door type ceiling was seeded with what Dipa had seen on her trip to Jodhpur.
I asked Dipa to share with us, three of her never fail "Design mantras","(1)Excellent planning of space with focus on function, comfort and light; (2) Understanding and incorporating personal style and (3) Less is definitely more, a place for everything and everything in its place. A clutter free home leads to a clutter free mind." I couldn't agree with her more !
The guest lounge has been created to wear many hats with the main focus being kick-off-your shoes comfort. It converts into a guest bedroom, once the large sofa bed is opened up. Flanking the sofa bed are book shelves that are masterfully concealed within stained glass panel shutters.
A view of the guest lounge when the stained glass doors are opened up to section off this area as the guest bedroom and provide privacy to their guests.
The guest lounge also has a well stocked bar or as the Desais jokingly refer to as their "daru ka adda". The carved wooden panel doors are up-cycled from furniture pieces that Dipa owned previously. Isn't that one hell of a bar?
Another enclosed balcony in this area houses a another vintage "munimji" table from Ketan's family home in Kolkatta.
Don't you agree that heirloom treasures have an inimitable manner of adding nostalgic spell to one's décor? The desk you see in the picture above is another fond and treasured piece from Ketan's family home in Kolkatta. It finds its rightful place in the guest lounge where it is put to good use.
Making this corner more interesting is Dipa's collection of Bidriware, a silver lota and meditation yin yang balls. A French artist was commissioned to make the black and white sketch of Dev, while on their trip to Paris a few years ago. The wardrobes to the right have large sliding doors that houses bags, linens and Dipa's collection of purses. Another bright idea that everyone could use is how Dipa managed to cleverly conceal the unsightly washing machine and dryer behind louvered shutters next to the wardrobes.
The Desai's master Bedroom is the perfect escape when one wants to retire at the end of the day. What makes this space so unique is the magnificence views from those large windows. Let's hear about more of this space from Dipa herself shall we, "This is my haven. From the sound of the sea.... the view of the sunset every evening,.........the sighting of the kingfisher, parrots, coppersmith, yellow oriole, drongos, mynas, bulbuls, cattle egrets, coucals and a few more, the glimpse of the moon over the horizon,casting silver shadows on the water at night.....The fishermen's boats that look like diyas floating away....... All of this makes it so darn hard  for me to leave home. This is where I design so many homes. It is where I contemplate, meditate, feel grateful.....this space evokes a cauldron of emotions....."
The mirrors on either side of the bed are meant to reflect the outside into the room. The painting above the bed is by artist Yashwant Deshmukh signifying positive, negative spaces which reflects the mood in this room. The ocher colored, textured fabrics together with the deep browns of the woodwork in the room makes for a potent combination, I say!
And finally, their son, Dev's Bedroom which also serves as his work space. Dipa designed this space to suit her son's needs as an architecture student. There is a movable drafting table.The study table tops are faced with back painted white glass, which can be used to sketch on freely. The shelf above,and next to his bed, showcase Dev's passion for pottery. His bed can be opened up to be a double bed, when he has friends for company. If you are an art aficionado, one look at the paintings in this room, and you will know that they are by artist Datta Bansode. 

With that we come to end of our home tour. Thank you Desais for so graciously allowing us to tour your stunning home. We wish you all the very best! Leaving you with what Dipa had to say about what the word home means to her, "It is a resting place, a place where the family comes together at the end of the day. A place to reflect, meditate, contemplate and unwind. A place where memories are made to remember. Also a place where memoirs of time and travel find a home. My home is designed in such a way that the ambiance makes me want to be a better human being!"

[For interior design and commercial/residential architecture project  inquiries, you may direct your questions to Architect Dipa Desai @]

(Photography: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia of The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the prior written permission of the home owners (Ketan and Dipa Desai) and TECD)