• Decor
Design is all about context for Kunal Barve, a renowned architect with artistic sensibilities that rise above trends and customary design concepts. Kunal established his design practice, Interface, in 2004. The firm continually strives to create design that is regionally sympathetic and well-grounded in the context of its community. The design philosophy followed at Interface is stylish, glamourous, understated, unexpected yet practical. The 10,000 square-foot apartment Kunal designed recently in Mumbai is a case in point. Discern takes you on a tour of the stunning interiors of this apartment, and chats with Kunal about the inspiration behind the design.
Tell us a little bit about what went into the design of this apartment?
At Interface, our design revolves around the client's brief. In this case, the client wanted us to design a home which was contemporary, and built along international design lines. That was the starting point from where we began thinking about designing this apartment.

What would you say is your most favourite part of this home?
I would say the family-cum-entertainment room turned out really well, because it adequately serves the requirement. The space is informal with teal and brown sofas, and other comfortable seating. There is a sudden sense of contrast in the room - the plush furniture has been juxtaposed with industrial lights by Aldo Bernardi hung on the wall; these lights also act as a sculptural element. The polished brass of the coffee table not only casts a beautiful reflection on the ceiling but also adds a nice contrast to the ruggedness of the industrial lights.

I love the humour in the design - elements of this can be seen in the sculptural horse placed adjacent to the Mexican, red-coloured deck overlooking a splendid view of the outdoors, and the bar designed in metal fret work. I also love the gigantic, 300-kilo, monolithic Buddha that welcomes you! Placed appropriately at the entrance, it adds a serene touch to the space. The statue is beautifully balanced with a delicate, 3-mm thick, intricately carved screen (jaali). The jaali balances the composition, casting wonderful shades and shadows, and yet serves as a screen separating the spaces in the room when you enter via the private lift. The juxtaposition of diverse elements that sync in with the design flow, makes this my favourite space.

Architect Kunal Barve  Architect Kunal Barve
What are the three biggest purchases you made for this space, and where did you source them from?
Our biggest purchases were made for the living room and family room. We sourced loose furniture from Milan, lights from Germany and accessories from China.


Architect Kunal Barve

Architect Kunal Barve

Did you or the client have any particular design style in mind before you embarked on the project?
Yes, both the client and I wanted to achieve a contemporary, stylish, glamorous and understated look for the entire apartment.
Architect Kunal Barve

Architect Kunal Barve

What is the most unique feature of this apartment?
Every space is personalised to meet the individual needs of each family member, without forgetting to maintain a keen attention to detail.
Architect Kunal Barve

Architect Kunal Barve

What was the client's former style and what change did you bring in?
When we started on this project, the house was a bare shell. Built by another architect around 14 years ago, the original home was designed in the Ethnic Indian style. The client wanted to do away with this style, and opted for a contemporary glam look instead.
Architect Kunal Barve  Architect Kunal Barve
What were the three important aspects you focused on while designing the house - for example, lighting, layout, decor?
We focused on styling the interiors - the colour scheme, lighting, artworks, customised detailing and accessories were important areas we put our minds to while designing this apartment.
Architect Kunal Barve

Architect Kunal Barve

Architect Kunal Barve

How did your education in design and your past projects influence the design of this apartment?
Being an architect with work experience of 15 years helps in handling a project of this size. Technical competence coupled with extensive travel experiences, both at home and abroad, have helped me in understanding design and styling on a broader level. Past projects have helped us in gaining experience, and when we take on a new project, we start out with renewed enthusiasm and zeal. When it comes to a personal space, every client has their own way of living and design style; our focus therefore, is to tap that particular style or requirement, work around it and create a design that is bespoke and yet individual; this makes our current work always different from our previous projects.

What were the biggest challenges and learnings from this project? How did you overcome the challenges?                   
Challenges: It is a myth that large spaces are easier; often larger spaces need even more thoughtful planning - adding the right furniture and ensuring the proportions and the volume do not overshadow the essence of the space, are matters of utmost importance. We had to design two living rooms in the same house, both around 1000 square-feet each, with completely different materials, where one living room had to have a formal look, whereas the other had to be light, vibrant, colourful and informal. Designing two living rooms of the same size in two very different styles and making them both appear uniquely interesting was a challenge. Ensuring the home reflected the individual tastes and personalities of every family member, with each room being uniquely different, and with no design, material or finish repeated in any form, was also a big challenge. 

Learnings: Every project we undertake is a learning for us, in multiple ways. We learnt about sourcing furniture from Germany, Milan, and China, and the logistics involved. While doing a recce of the best global brands and the trending styles, we met many wonderful designers and people from around the world. 


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