Project name: The Kaleido Store
Architect : deCoDe
Project Type: Interior Design
Location: Andheri West, Mumbai
Design Team: Prashant Prabhu and Meghna Gilani (Principals), Karan Desai
Describing interiors which attest to being exacting for the purpose of a unique lighting design store, a conversation with the design firm, deCoDe, helped us understand context based design for interiors, the role of specific material palette and their approach towards the very ideal of designing.
Volume Zero: Where is the project located, and what does it entail?
deCode: The Kaleido Store is located in the expansive Laxmi Industrial estate in Andheri (West), Mumbai. The Kaleido store is a one-stop-shop for design focused lighting, the intent of which is to move away from run-of-the-mill lighting solutions available through the length of the city and focus on custom and design focused lighting solutions.
Volume Zero: How has the location of the project led to specific context based design? Also, does the design implemented ensure climate responsiveness?
deCode: The project is an interior project and hence the context is more immediate. The store is located in an industrial shed which is very similar in structure and look to all the other sheds in the estate. We attempt to respond to this context of the sheds around by opening the interior of the store to the street around and creating transparency within and into the store from the outside.
Volume Zero: How has the design been shaped, and how did the story unfold from a two dimensional sketch to the execution?
deCode: The design process began with an exhaustive inventory of all the lights that the owner had curated for the store. These lights were then classified according to design, style and look and were then placed into a three dimensional model of the store where the location was each light was fixed and the design was built upon from there. Material palettes, look and feel decisions were used to drive the design.
Volume Zero: What was the basic intent denoted in the client brief and how did the design ideology conform to it?
deCode: From the initial point in the design to the final end product, the idea was to focus upon the lights as they are the main feature of the store. The client was very clear about the brief and we were completely in sync with the thought i.e. the store should act as a canvas to showcase the lights. The look of the store was to be simple, subtle and sophisticated which would help put all attention on the lights.
Volume Zero: Were there any basic benchmarks around which the design was oriented and approached, and due to which the final concept was determined upon?
deCode: The design proceeded with the intent to consciously deviate from the overwhelming experience that are synonymous with the conventional lighting stores, wherein lights cover every available square inch of space and focus more on a curatorial experience of light design and display. As opposed to this, the idea here was to focus on a curatorial experience of light design and display. In order to assert this, the main design element employed herein is a simple painted mild steel grid frame which has been inserted in the space which runs along the wall. As it continues in length it folds onto the existing double height ceiling and from which all the lights curated have been suspended. Every light, in order to portray and enhance its features and characteristics for which it has been curated, has been framed within the black mild steel grid. Moreover, large windows emphasize the streaming sunlight and face the street, providing a teasing glance into the store.
Volume Zero: What were the array of materials opted for in the design?
deCode: The material palette of the entire store is intentionally kept simple with a focus on the lights and the branding colors. We have used a limited material set of printed floor tiles matched with light colored oak wood flooring, patterned wall paper to highlight and draw customers to the far end of the store. A lime plaster finish in two different shades of grey cover the walls which receive the most important material of all – natural sunlight which floods the store all through the day.
Volume Zero: What were the challenges which were met with during the successful execution of the project?
deCode: Regarding the challenges faced in the execution of this project, time and budget, reminiscent of any project in the professional scenario, were two constraints which were saddled with the project. It took a total sixty days for the entire project, inclusive of design conception and development. The budget was confined to a limit, but it aided in making the right decisions and in keeping the focus on the essential concepts of this project. Additionally, the challenge remained on ensuring focus on each and every light which has been specially curated for the store.
Volume Zero: What are the exclusive design features and details of this project those you feel are important? How it follows your typical design philosophy and design language, or, have you gone beyond your typical design language and experimented with this project?
deCode: We believe in the adage – Keep it simple. We do not believe in architectural acrobatics for the sense of fulfillment of our “design ego”. Our process has always been to arrive at a spatial solution wherein the user of the space feels a sense of calm within. We believe in “taking away” rather than “adding to” any space and make the space eventually, lighter in its experience.
Volume Zero: How would you describe your design style / design language? What are the features that are symbolic of a typical design done by your firm?
deCode: Our work tends to be quiet and subtle putting the focus on the experience of a project rather than the expense. The work of the firm derives from the diverse backgrounds as well as interests of the two partners and is eventually realized through a process of active engagement with a broader network of consultants, contractors, craftspeople and the client. Consistently drawing on experiences and resources to inform their practice, and also through their teaching positions at various schools of design has led them to believe and formulate an inclusive, sustainable, gender-neutral, nonhierarchical collaborative practice where the only end goal, is a happy client.
Ar. Prashant Prabhu
Ar. Meghna Gilani
Volume Zero:What was it that led you into the field of architecture?
deCode: The interest in architecture intensified prior to and during architecture school, as it remained a singular profession which promised respite from boredom of the conventional engineering or medicine degrees. Also, it represents a unique blend of the sciences and the arts where both are equally delved upon.
Volume Zero: How would you like to describe your architectural education?
deCode: The education in architecture received in India felt simultaneously liberating and stifling, and learning was more through the interactions with peers as well as lectures and seminars organized by architectural institutions, as opposed to through sitting within studios and discussing deficiencies in toilet layouts. Moreover, a Master’s degree in the field post graduation in an abroad setting aided in putting things into perspective and clearing the fog a little bit more.
Volume Zero: Moreover, could you tell us about other aspects in your life as an architect?
deCode: Being an Architect has helped us understand the value of travel. Travel is the fuel that drives our practice. We believe that the more we travel, the more flexible we become, the more understanding of people and more appreciative of little everyday things around us. The best parts of our travels are the stories we come back with.