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Contemporary Calm represents a soothing oasis of colour set amongst the hustle-bustle of urban life. In its quest to rediscover balance and harmony in the modern way of life, the theme reflects a contemporary urban Indian aesthetic.
In this issue of Colour Quotient we explore the soothing colour stories of Con- temporary Calm through conversations with three design professionals representing three unique design practices based in India—Niels Schoenfelder (Mancini Enterprises), Jigisha Patel (Unnu) and Madhav Raman (Anagram Architects). Inspired by the issue theme colour (Peace Meadow–9310), the three design professionals share their colour interpretations of Contemporary Calm. In “Spirit of Contemporary Calm” and “Colour Inspiration”, each designer shares their interpretation of the theme and presents a custom colour palette for the same. In the section “Showcase”, each designer delves into their folio of work, and shares an instance of contemporary design work that represents the qualities of Contemporary Calm.
Principal, Mancini Enterprises
Education and travel led Niels Schoenfelder to start Mancini Enterprises—a firm for architecture, interiors, objects, furniture, and landscapes in India and abroad, in Chennai in 2004. Based on his experiences in Europe and his thorough understanding of Indian ground realities, he is a specialist in designing and guiding the technical implementation of ambitious projects in India. Niels heads a team of 28 professionals in Mancini Enterprises, catering to a wide variety of projects. It is the challenge of diversity which has proven to be the driving force for the firm’s understanding of the different building realities and their potential within the framework of contemporary architecture.
Spirit of Contemporary Calm
Contemporary Calm is about simplifying—it is about concentrating on real life and issues. It encourages one to find his/her own way of being in the urban environment rather than buying into preset lifestyles. It inspires one to be honest with one’s own references and desires and use that honesty to create relevant spaces
My inspiration for the Contemporary Calm theme is derived from the onset of early spring in the winter forest—with frozen rivulets, and blankets of snow, and light occasionally reflecting off the fresh shoots of coniferous trees.
Niels Schoenfelder’s Showcase
Tanjore Hi is a small hotel in the middle of the noisy little town of Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. A heritage boutique hotel, Tanjore Hi is remarkable for its representation of the art and culture of South India in its contemporary and comfortable accommodation for travelers. The colour space for the hotel had to be calming and at the same time support the ambient photo art of artist Frederic Delangle. His concept of Daily Divine – Divine Daily is a contemporary take on the many gods, demons, and mythical beings who inhabit not only the main temple in Tanjore but also the everyday life in the town. Shades of dark blue create a space in which this concept can develop an atmospheric quality and thus go beyond mere decor.
After completing her BFA in Painting at the MS University in Baroda, Jigisha Patel joined the postgraduate programme in Textile Design, at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. During her time at NID, Jigisha got interested in working with felt, which subsequently led to her designing various ranges of rugs, sold by Habitat and The Conran Store, and in the USA by Roost. Besides felt, her involvement in working with traditional Indian crafts like resist dyeing and silver foil printing has led her to develop garment collections which draw on India’s rich vocabulary of costumes. Jigisha’s work revolves primarily around process and craftsmanship. She draws upon the traditional techniques—the logic, form, and languages—of various crafts practiced in Kutchch and Gujarat; these blend with new materials and techniques through a process of experimentation. The idea is to always seamlessly integrate the traditional with the contemporary and create new expressions. Since this is above all an exchange of ideas between her and the craftsperson, it creates value for both.
Spirit of Contemporary Calm
No two sunsets are the same and their beauty lies in the fact that they punctuate our lives creating oases of calm in the day. They are not static or colourless. Similarly, our crowded urban lives need to be punctuated. Not by the cold stasis of what we call minimalism but by something rich, varied, textured, and possessing the quality of agelessness. I like the tones and hues of natural fibres and the great variety within these—whether it is the colours of wool—the off-whites, browns, and greys, or the rich colours of silks like Muga, Eri, and Tussar. It is not just the colours, but the texture, sheen, and feel which is unostentatious yet unique, because natural things cursorily look the same but never are. They hide a great variety within their sameness.
My colours are selected intuitively—from layers of memories in the subconscious. The colours of Contemporary Calm are inspired by the skies and fields of Srinagar, Kashmir as I saw them from up above in a flight. When we landed and as the jeep moved across the roads of Srinagar, it was spring and the entire landscape was very different from Gujarat where I come from.
The Rangoli Show by Conran was a selling exhibition of contemporary design featuring work by designers who live and produce work in India. The aesthetic of my rugs designed for the Rangoli Show emerged as an expression of the felting process. The designs were contemporary interpretations of surfaces seen in Mughal and Hindu architecture. I also looked at various traditional textiles like the Ralli quilts and Japenese Shibori. Felt is basically layers of wool fibres intermeshed to form a sheet. In the soft stage, felt almost feels like water-colour paper on which colour spreads and forms various tones of the same colour. I had used an ombre (shaded effect) of blue and Indian red colours for the rugs. Traditional indigo dye has been used routinely for resist dyeing techniques in India and Japan as the colour looks beautiful when it transitions from light to dark. Looking at various indigo dyed fabrics and the textural quality of felt inspired me to do an ombre in felt with blue colour. Similarly the Indian red colour was inspired by sandstone architecture and the various tones of it created by light.
Partner, Anagram Architects
Madhav Raman founded Anagram Architects in 2001, an architectural practice in partnership with Vaibhav Dimri, that offers multi-disciplinary design consultancy with expertise in urban infrastructure planning, urban design, architecture, interior design, and research. Anagram Architects is internationally recognised as amongst the top emerging practices in the world with a commitment towards delivering innovative designs encouraging sustainable lifestyles. The practice has won numerous international awards including a nomination for the Aga Khan Award 2010 and an inclusion in Wallpaper* Magazine’s Architects Directory 2009. Its work has been premiated at international awards such as the Architectural Review’s World Emerging Architecture Awards 2007 and the Cityscape Architectural Awards 2008 & 2010, and the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction 2011. Anagram Architects has also been featured in “Future 30”, an exhibition as part of the 4th International Architecture Biennale 2010 at the Chabot Museum in Rotterdam and Biennial of Design (BIO23) 2012 held in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Spirit of Contemporary Calm
In today's world, progress is associated with speed and efficiency. A fast paced life does not necessarily lead to advancement. In fact it is often erosive to well being—to the extent that stillness is valued more for rest rather than repose. Peaceful repose is, however, an opportunity for reflection and meditation. That is a state that possesses the latent energy of life, of dynamic movement. It is the seedbed for a pulsating future. Personally, Contemporary Calm evokes a promise of evolution through thought rather than a change through action.
My colour palette is inspired by the electric calm that precedes the break of the monsoons. The turbulent skies churn but hold themselves echoing the bated anticipation of all that is living for that first reaffirming, revitalising spray. The gradually rising breeze sets the branches of mango trees a-quiver. The voluptuous fruit, hanging full of promise, and the underside of the leaves, flashing tremulously, are set off against the darkening skies. The aroma of wet earth saturates the senses and the ennui of the summer heat becomes a long-forgotten past.
We experimented with colour as a cadence at par with texture in the architectural language of Gairola House. The project is a multi-family residential stack in Gurgaon. It attempted to create sociopetal spaces between the residents to foster communal relationships. So while the multi-spatial clusters between volumes and voids create opportunities for relationships to form between neighbours, we used the juxtaposition of texture, material, and colour to heighten the play of volumes and voids that in turn expresses the vibrancy of these very relationships. The textures were anchored with earth colours through stone, bamboo, and terracotta and the colours on the plaster ranged from a resonant blue, through a reserved mauve, to a fresh white.
Kadalas, a café, in Calicut is minimal, esoteric and a melange of many things.
Free Flow – Junction Bar operates from a brief that wanted to capture the nostalgia of railways within an urban bar.
Meet Phoebe Dahl, who brings fashion and philanthropy together with Faircloth Supply.