Five architecture and design firms decode luxury homes in contemporary India
Grandeur, richness in material palette, technology and a touch of personalised magic... five residential projects exemplify HNI residences
Trendsetters not just in fashion, HNIs define luxury living through their stylish and impeccable abodes. Invariably, you will find that comfort, unique functionality and security are flawlessly amalgamated with grandeur, richness in material palette and a touch of personalised magic. The luxe life is epitomised by HNIs with their disposable incomes and taste of the global world. They give architects and designers the opportunity to unleash their creativity, resulting in impressive built spaces.
In the following pages, we present a selection of HNI homes in India that are the epitome of luxury. We walk you through these designer homes, highlighting the unique thematic schemes they follow and/or the technology that adds to their luxury quotient. We also look at materials and design details that give these projects a rich appeal.
OHANA HOUSE BY ADND
There was a time when luxury meant living at the heart of the city, but today HNIs are seeking an abode away from the chaos of urban life. Atelier Design N Domain (AdnD), co-founded by Anand Menon and Shobhan Kothari, had to design one such abode for a client who runs a successful pharmaceutical company, and was seeking a house on the outskirts of Baroda. “The primary brief for the project was to design a house with modern clean lines, minimalistic approach and a strong connect with the outdoors. The design had to cater to their lifestyle of entertaining at home. The mandate was to create spaces, personal and public, where one could congregate,” explain Menon and Kothari.
In the Spanish word Ohana (meaning family bond), the architects found the perfect design concept as they set out to design a house that puts the essence of family life at the forefront. The 1,400sq-ft, ground plus one, sprawling house, therefore, sits harmoniously in a farmland by establishing a strong inside-outside connect. Conceived as a series of spaces connected by an elongated verandah, the house is oriented to maximise natural light and designed to suit the contemporary lifestyle of the HNI client. Large sliding doors separate the verandah space from the informal family living space. The centrally located family living area acts as a connect between the master bedroom suite and guest bedroom on the ground floor, and the staircase that leads to the kids bedroom and media room on the upper floor.
Art finds a prominent spot in the design language of this luxurious space: we see a larger-than-life brass sculpture by Navin Chahande at the entrance door, while a stunning ceramic and metal art installation by Gopinath Subbanna sets the tone for the entryway leading to the formal living room. An artistic quality is also seen in the craftsmanship visible throughout the house. From the bar finished in micro concrete and high sheen corrugated copper, staircase featuring a free-standing metal and sublimated aluminium screen in a series of random horizontal slats, to fabric-clad walls, the contemporary nature of the house is accentuated with a clever use of materials. For the architects, the key material that gives the house its identity is the arrangement of finely crafted calibrated granite slabs that adorn the exteriors. “The cladding also bleeds into the interiors of key areas to establish a connection with the outdoors,” they note.
Every intervention and space planning is designed keeping in mind the social life of the client. Thus, the verandah transforms itself into a lounge space by night that opens out on to the pool deck and lawn, providing the perfect setting for parties and social get-togethers. In the end, this project illustrates both the new and the evergreen face of luxury – one where art and the quality of space and material play a significant role, but located away from the madness of the city and its restrictive spaces.
UMBER HOUSE BY MOLD DESIGN STUDIO
Calling a luxury home “simple” may seem like an oxymoron – but that’s precisely how architect Anika Mittal Dhawan, principal, Mold Design Studio describes Umber House, which is nestled in the diplomatic enclave of Malcha Marg, Delhi. “Simple and linear, the design revolves around the front garden/lawn, which is a rare urban opportunity these days. It provides a foreground and a breathable green space, to create a healthy transition from the street to the verandah,” is how Dhawan describes the home of the owners of the design house Exhibit D. A central open space unifies all floors, floods the interiors with natural light and becomes the perfect spot for a sculptural element. Despite being open, it functions as a living space that seems to expand and contract on individual occupancies to juxtapose vivid functions of each person in the overall definition of home.
Based on the client’s brief, interior flooring and ceiling are finished in muted tones, serving as a canvas for the design detail and décor to shine in each space. All rooms, including the bathrooms and the kitchen, are designed with full-height windows and high ceilings, so that the play of natural light adds to the aesthetic charm of the space. Even the folded plate staircase functions as an intriguing design feature with the use of wooden soffit contrasting with the stone flooring, glass railings and the wooden handrail. Like most urban spaces, an HNI home, too, benefits from creating a multi-functional space. The family lounge on the first floor, for instance, can be modified to become the guest room when required, by a simple sliding folder and customisable furniture that opens up as a bed when needed.
Both the muted design palette and the tall windows allow the outside greenery to take over the house and induce the interiors with its calm presence. “To construct a rhythmic language of the spaces, the texture of outside spaces is carried within, with the use of copper, wood and beige flooring. Thus, the building crafts a coherent experience that captivates a person’s senses from the street, defines a playfield of spatial experiences that ropes him into the hearth of the house – all this while remaining consistent in their experience and identity,” shares Dhawan. Fluid spaces, clean lines and natural colour tones define the interiors, while dramatic ceilings and cornices add a sense of detail and glamour to the overall language of the house.
Technology, innovative materials and craft are intrinsic to the design scheme. When it comes to materials and craftsmanship, the copper cladding on the façade is a sure standout feature. As it glows under the sun, it gives the house a radiant quality. “The craftsmanship in copper has been explored by using it in different ways across the project,” adds Dhawan. A comprehensive automation strategy, elevates the living experience with the entire AV, lighting, air-conditioning and curtains controlled by automation.
Additionally, home security is manageable with the click of a button, ensuring that automation accounts for all factors of comfort, liveability, safety and security – thus creating a haven that encapsulates modern HNI homes, where emphasis on nature in the midst of a city and the desire for a tech-friendly, simple yet inspiring design is paramount.
NEW CUFFE PARADE BY STUDIO HBA
Space itself is a luxury in metropolitan cities like Mumbai. Designing high-end homes in such a real estate sector comes with its unique challenges, as Studio HBA found out when designing the New Cuffe Parade show flat. Not your regular luxury address, the interiors showcase a new form of luxury that is defined not by opulence, but by smart and innovative solutions that maximise utility. Created as a timeless canvas for owners to enliven the space with their personal touch, the interiors are vibrant and smart in design, with a balance between technology and creativity.
The three bedroom apartment, which includes a guest bedroom and a children’s bedroom, has been designed to create an illusion of space. One enters through a vestibule – a utilitarian space for owners to store shoes, umbrellas, etc, and also to create a sense of arrival into the spacious living room. Generous amount of daylight floods the living room, which seamlessly flows into the dining area – a space that can be both intimate for family dinners or ideal for entertaining a large number of guests. “The highlight of the house is the walk-in wardrobe, a rare feature in a city like Mumbai that has space constraints. With our belief in providing utility as a form of luxury, the wardrobe is one of the many innovative storage solutions we have created for the home owners,” points out Rahul Shankhwalker, founding partner, Studio HBA.
Elements of nature, fine textiles and tectonic geometry give this house its distinct identity. By using neutral colours, the space is enveloped in a serene and peaceful aura. It is contrasted by bold colours from the accessories and furniture, that punctuate the space with their energy. The thoughtful planning takes into account everyday activity and has provided storage solutions for almost everything, from car keys to golf bag. Technology ensures the house is as comfortable as it is alluring. Home automation is the central element of intelligent design at New Cuffe Parade with energy-efficient ways to control lights, AC and curtains.
“New Cuffe Parade is one of our proudest creations which follows our value of celebrating the inherent textural quality of different elements. The apartments show a diverse amount of materials, all bound together by our simple, elegant colour palette of whites and blues. We had a thrilling time using abstract art to amplify the beauty of the room. It ties everything together and helps us create an international flavour in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai,” sums up Shankhwalker.
Indeed, it is that perfect blend of aesthetic charm and efficiency that makes this HNI abode impressive. As an innovative apartment, it illustrates the multidimensional lifestyle of the modern-day urban HNI.
A FINE MESS BY MUSELAB
Beauty, one could say, lies in the details. And so does luxury, if you take into account the plush three-bedroom residence Muselab designed for one of their clients. There is a sophisticated yet homely vibe to this home that was possible thanks to the layers of rich materials and textures. “Sometimes, all a house needs are some gestures to transform it into a home. This apartment designed for a couple and their two daughters in Mumbai, does just that. We came up with a proposal to create a large and fluid living space, taking advantage of the natural lighting conditions and recreating spaces by eliminating the solid kitchen partitions and uniting the kitchen, living and dining environments,” explain the principal architects, Jasem Pirani and Huzefa Rangwala.
Starting from the main living space, you are drawn by the details adorning every inch of the space — whether it is the cement sheet panelled walls, the rustic Indian walnut wood dining unit, the luxurious tan leather sofa with a sleek frame, walnut wood bar unit, Himalayan stone breakfast counter, vintage tiles, terrazzo tables… these are just few of the versatile details seen in this home. “Rendered in a natural colour palette, the textures and play of birch ply, walnut wood and contrasting materials create an inviting atmosphere; a home that feels both vintage and new,” point out the architects.
The idea of a “good life” comes from each of the customised designs that give the space a sense of personalised, crafted luxury. Every element, from the kitchen, the terrazzo-topped coffee table to the handles within the house, all have been custom designed. The TV unit and the altar were both hand routed by their team of craftsmen on site. “The birch ply panels have been perforated on site. Every element has been carpentered and handmade,” mention Pirani and Rangwala.
The material palette is explored with equal ingenuity in the bedrooms. In the guest bedroom, walnut wood is used to create a custom-designed lounge seating that opens up as a bed as well as a desk and wardrobe, making the space versatile as a den or a study. A perforated birch ply headboard in the master bedroom is contrasted with birch ply wardrobe with fluted glass shutters. For the desk, a long peach-hued terrazzo functions as a stunning surface.
Despite the rich layering of materials, the space fits the contemporary design narrative that most high-end clients seek. Pirani and Rangwala attribute it to thoughtful planning that doesn’t shy away from the right dose of extravagance. They say, “With beautiful functionalism as its backbone and a focus on layering of contrasting materials, the intent is to create a pure amalgamation of materials – therefore, we refer to this project as a fine mess.”
VILLA SOL BY ESQUISSE DESIGNS
An opportunity to build a palatial home is a rare one, but Esquisse Designs bagged one such project for prominent Hyderabad personalities who are erstwhile landlords and royalty. “The clients wanted a home that was evocative of their lineage and yet forward-looking — essentially an old-world essence updated with requirements of a modern lifestyle. Moreover, the design had to be Vastu-compliant,” says Siddarth Garrimela, principal, Esquisse Designs. Given the scale of the project – 11 acres of land with a 15,000sq-ft main villa and a 3,000sq-ft guest villa – luxury as the fundamental design language was a prerequisite.
Rich materials, upscale furniture and ornate classic elements such as cornices and mouldings spell out the design concept. “The material palette brought together the beauty of wood and marble, with a lot of textural play through wallpapers and fabrics,” shares Garrimela. Lest we think opulence was the sole focus, the architect points out that the water harvesting system, solar panels and recycling ensure that the “environment does not pay a price for the clients’ physical comfort.”
The formal living room, dining area and the informal sitting area are designed to function as individual spaces that also open up to host gatherings of about 100 people. One experiences grandeur architecturally from the 14-ft-high spaces that are embellished only with the best of furniture from reputed names such as Visionnaire, Armani, Versace, Fendi, Turri, Roche Bobois, Cavalli and Baxter. “Alabaster chandeliers and an onyx-topped dining-table are but two instances of the luxe elements that make up this space,” specifies Garrimela.
A modern palace would be incomplete without technology, and Villa Sol doesn’t disappoint. By incorporating high-end AV systems and automation, the clients have the luxury of creating a resort-like ambience simply at the touch of a button. Not only does the automation take care of most of the regular household processes, but the house is equipped with a state-of-the-art video conferencing system that ensures that business can be carried out from home as well.
With its landscape and activity zones, this palatial home can outdo what even the most avant-garde housing development cannot: beach volleyball court, cricket ground, badminton courts, archery, jogging track, horse riding track, children’s play zone, stables, areas for animal husbandry, kitchen gardens... It is modern-day royalty at its finest that wows visitors with its opulent entrances, a landscape dotted with fountains and water cascades, an internal environment underpinned by rich materials and detailing, and the unobtrusive technology that heightens one’s sense of comfort.