Unihhibited Exuberance



Text: Ar Apurva Bose Dutta, Photographs: Pallon Daruwala

The Kalro’s apartment in Bengaluru, India reflects designer Husna Rahaman’s zest for life – through her signature arty elements of arresting materials, flamboyant colours, the Indian feel dovetailing with contemporary vocabulary and the little nuances that go on to give this house an uninhibited exuberance.

I prefer calling Architect Husna Rahaman – Founder and Principal architect of Bengaluru based Fulcrum Design Studio, a ‘designer’. For some curious reason the ‘d’ word to me signifies a more intricate level of detailing, much beyond the form, structure and the plan that an architect is invariably associated with. In Husna’s designs, the smallest of the details are executed with a prolific imagination – the materials, plan, functions and custom designed furniture all vying to acquire ‘designer wear’ labels.

A 2 year old duplex apartment (on the ground floor) in Bengaluru owned by real estater Deepak and wife Sukanya Kalro has the full imprint of Husna’s design – that of luxury, of materials bringing the ‘zing’, of optimal use of the potential of space, and of discovering a new way to explore the ordinary. The living, dining, kitchen, a powder room, daughter’s room and a guest room cover the ground level while the first level has a family room, a puja space and the master bedroom.

“The 3000sqft space that was handed to me needed to be made dynamic and have a voice and a personality. The clients wanted something that was loose and unrestraining for which the internal architectural bones of the house were reengineered to marry off the spaces”, adds Husna. Sukanya elucidates, “I wanted a contemporary house with minimal wood – nothing antique”.

Walls were broken and replaced by glass mobile skins to amplify the spaces – evident in the kitchen-dining space and the master bedroom and its dressing and bath. The entrance leads into the dining space with the living and kitchen on its two sides. A more innovative entrance would have worked wonders, nevertheless the mosaic dining table by Husna catches your attention with its two varied shiny and rough textures ‘which perfectly bounce off the light’, as Husna chips in. A similar counter is literally mirrored by the ‘glass skin’ in between the kitchen and the dining to form the kitchen counter which serves as an extra dining area when the glass is slid open. A lot of furniture custom designed by Husna goes in total sync with the discerning artefacts picked up by the Kalros from different parts of the world.

The 20’ double height living space with minimalistic furniture has a runner in dramatic red velvet wallpaper stretching across the wall, to the ceiling, symbolically increasing the visual space and leading your eyes upwards to a hovering wooden daybed inviting curiosity. Infact, surprises are galore in the house – the well flushed PU cupboards in the family, master and daughter’s bedroom, the guest bathroom door or the bar in the family room. The yarns sandwiched between the two layers of glass in front of the bar glowing on account of the beautiful onyx back lit lighting don’t make you realise that they conceal a bar. The same holds true for its adjacent wooden facade.

The daughter’s room is a quirky mix of pink and purple colours contrasting with the huge beige storage spaces. With a little study tucked at one side, the room looks very ‘girly’ and has been intelligently carved out of a small space. The original bathroom wall was replaced by a glass door pasted with violet and pink films and Swarovski crystals, opening into the bath with stunning red coloured coral faucets. An enchanting powder room on this floor has a combination of a million pieces of mirror and hand cut marble adorning the walls with a freestanding red acrylic basin complementing it. As Husna aptly remarks, “It is a dazzling exuberance of the walls”.

The mid flight LED’s at the staircase change colours – from flame orange to crimson which happen to be the primary colours of the living room. Husna’s homes invariably extrude an altogether different meaning with their mood lighting – conspicuous in the captivating shadow that the red basin creates in the powder room. Besides LED’s and incandescents, the natural daylight seems quite enough with expansive windows and balconies attached to the living, guest and daughter’s rooms.

The wooden deck of the staircase landing having been extended accommodates the ‘eastern daybed’ (with strong wooden structural details0 in the family room radiating warmth and is the family’s favourite space in the house. This mezzanine area has interesting geometric teak wood clad metal beams enclosing it. The polished veneer and antique metal laminates in clean lines in the Puja room add texture to the narrow linear space.

The master bedroom and its walk in wardrobe and a bath were created from two bedrooms with baths. Husna attaches a special bond with the 3d hand chiselled art wall here (a signature element in Husna’s designs) that took almost a month to make. The design was made on the computer and was transferred on big sheets on the walls. Done for the love of art and commerce, she admits proudly that no one except her on the planet could own this design. “This textured art wall is intrinsic to the Indian sensibility since in India we work with our hands as opposed to the west where machines are used. It is kind of bridging the two worlds”, adds Husna. The arresting coloured headboard here seems perfect for the artefact it holds, picked up from Dubai by the owners. A store has been accommodated on both sides of the beds with lines so clear that you hardly notice their presence A huge vertical mirror acts as the barrier between the bedroom and the bathroom while housing the walk-in-wardrobes. The space gets magnified, simultaneously retaining its own privacy, a trait experienced throughout the house. The cobble tiles from the family room continue in this space extending to the bath where they adorn the walls too.

Beautiful artefacts picked from various countries add much liveliness to Husna’s designs- the huge clock at the staircase from Malaysia, the unique candle holders-cages hung at various levels in the alcove below the staircase alcove, a wooden head by a Lebanese artist at the landing of the staircase. Besides the artefacts, a lot of furniture (including the beds, the sofas in the family room and the dining furniture) has been custom designed by Husna.

Leaving aside the constraints that come with all apartments – building services, knocking off walls and requiring enormous mandate, Husna proudly admits that through these spaces which have a kind of candidness to each other, she has been able to facilitate the opening of human minds too. Sukanya adds that the only thing she misses is a garden; else everything is in place.

Small spaces can be beautiful and you don’t miss much in this house – details, innovative materials, functionality, a minimalist yet cheerful touch, captivating mood lighting and the traditional cum modern lines. Husna likes to call her architectural firm an ‘art studio’ and every project of hers has distinctive elements which define them and which can’t be taken away from them. Husna’s designs go much beyond the obvious – they have a deep connect with the owners and a deeper connect with Husna herself – the ‘designer’ in her ensures that thoroughly.

Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta, an architectural journalist is a correspondent of ARCHI TIMES & ARCHITECTURE +INTERIORS (A+i) from India. She writes for various architectural/interior journals and websites. She can be contacted at apurvabose@yahoo.com or reached at www.apurvabose.com

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