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At the Reception Desk: A Display of Linen Covered Books

Beautiful Open Book Lampshades Dropping from a Teakwood Roof

The Courtyard

Courtyard: Before Renovating

Courtyard: After Renovating

The Library

Library: Before Renovating

Library: After Renovating

The Gallery

Gallery: Before Renovating

Gallery: After Renovating

Café Monday: Before Renovating

Café Monday: After Renovating

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Workspace 10 May 2017

From Rags to Riches: Ministry of New, then and now.

Pronounced 2nd among the most beautiful co-working spaces in the world by Forbes, founders Marlies Bloemendaal and Natascha Chadha revamped an old heritage property one year ago into a brand new inspiring workspace. Here’s a recap of the then and now of the Ministry and how far it’s come.

Walking along the crowded streetscape of Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji, there was one façade that stole our attention amongst the hustle. Dabbed with hues of Wedgwood blue and white, the Neoclassical stone façade that we’d fallen in love with was of Kitab Mahal, the roost of the very edifice that the Ministry of New nestled in. We made our way to the 3rd floor of Mumbai's Kitab Mahal, a colonial building in the heritage-rich Fort area, to what seemed like a lively member club. Home to a NASA consultant, Financial Times, Good Earth designers, a brand illustrator and many more, this co-working space stands open for opportunities and collaborations.

Founder Marlies Bloemendaal, breathed life into an old-haggard-home and translated it into a beautiful coworking space after running the Ministry in other places in Lower Parel and Santacruz before unveiling this one and shifting operations to Fort. Adorned in white, the space spoke hope and sheer joy especially if you’re there for a brainstorm session with a team or freelancing alone. Stripping off years of dirt and rubbish, the duo Marlies and co-founder Natascha Chadha reveal the bones of the heritage property that Ministry of New rests upon.

With the intention of creating an inspiring workspace, one that did away with the usual cubicle and old-fashioned setup, arose the 2nd most beautiful co-working space in the world as ranked by Forbes recently. The aim was to build a community that offered a relaxed environment; one that wouldn’t slay down your mood on a Monday morning. “Desk rentals are only the hardware. The real magic is in the network and exposure you receive working here”, says Natascha.

As you enter...

The reception desk treats you to a display of linen covered books elegantly lit up, in sync with the theme of Kitab Mahal. A few meters ahead hang beautiful open book lampshades dropping from a teakwood roof that would just make you so happy. Adjoining this space is a broad corridor continually showered with skylight through the central courtyard. More like a hangout space, the corridor is embellished with worktables, hanging plants, cane basket lamps and a spacious passage to walk around.

At the Reception Desk: A Display of Linen Covered Books

Beautiful Open Book Lampshades Dropping from a Teakwood Roof

 

Ministry of New had a very different appearance before Marlies waved in her puff of magic; restoring the space within 6-months. While the bathroom and the Courtyard had to be given special attention, Marlies explains, “The courtyard was a huge mess. We only put two walls against the team rooms and used the existing doors, frames and windows.”

The Courtyard

Courtyard: Before Renovating

Courtyard: After Renovating

 

Walking through this space, three things in particular caught our attention: the old doors, shutters and beams. One of the oldest architectural elements at the space, they seemed to embody a charm that would soak you into the goodness of the space.

The aim was to build a community that offered a relaxed environment; one that wouldn’t slay down your mood on a Monday morning.

Library

We personally loved the Library, a cozy living room that feels more like home. Seeking all the attention is Marlies’ wooden rope swing that had been sourced from a wood saw mill at Reay Road before putting it together. What differentiates the library from the other rooms is the beautiful Mystic Lake blue wall that reflects the Dutch culture, both Marlies and Natascha come from. “My choice of colours are the dutch-kind. The Mystic Lake blue is from Asian Paints incidentally, and is the colour of the ocean. This blue looks different in the day than the evening. Some people call it gray while some call it blue! It’s such a beautiful colour; I love it. We have a lot of green and blue throughout the space, which is why we call the Ministry a ‘professional oasis’ because when you think about it, it relates to water, greens; it’s like this beautiful place you want to be in because it’s calming. The city of Mumbai is full of colour and overwhelm; full of orange and red. We wanted to create a calmer space since most offices have more energetic and powerful colours.”, says Marlies.

The Library

Library: Before Renovating

Library: After Renovating

 

The library packs in beautiful upholstered sofas, Crow Chairs designed by Bombay Atelier, antique hand-woven Jaipur Rugs that entail geometric to Aztec-inspired patterns, a chandelier sourced from Chor Bazaar and a large wooden table that serves as a good platform to share meals with friends or colleagues. Ladder-like shelves that scale up the high ceiling are seen reserved for books, games, trinkets, old travel trunks and vintage objects that have been handpicked from the Crawford Market. Inspired by vintage ladders usually seen at libraries, Marlies installed flexible ladders against the wall of the library attaching loose wooden planks that could be moved as and when needed. She thinks of it as design components of the space; as elements that can be taken apart and put together in another space.

Gallery

The Gallery welcomed us with this beautiful white painted wall. The typical neat sense of design adopted from Holland is seen here as well, where simple and functional design is accentuated by the use of the colour white and straight lines with no frills.

The Gallery

Gallery: Before Renovating

Gallery: After Renovating

 

Spreading across 2,200 sq.ft, the gallery is seen accompanied by iron columns and a stunning view of the Victoria Terminus. The beauty of this space is enhanced by custom-made wooden tables, made in collaboration with several artists such as Gunjan Gupta’s chairs and gadda daybed and Lekha Washington’s Moon Dot chair etc.

Café Monday

Connected to the Library is a quaint café that features a beautiful mural backdrop hand-painted by Deborah di Fiore. The café is run by the restaurant Café Zoe and makes way for scrumptious salads, sandwiches, hot meals and Barista-made coffees.

Café Monday: Before Renovating

Café Monday: After Renovating

The library packs in beautiful upholstered sofas, Crow Chairs designed by Bombay Atelier, antique hand-woven Jaipur Rugs that entail geometric to Aztec-inspired patterns, a chandelier sourced from Chor Bazaar and a large wooden table that serves as a good platform to share meals with friends or colleagues.

Team and Meeting Rooms

The 8 team rooms include The Park, The Hill, The Bay and The Beach, each of which can hold up to 8 members. The larger team rooms include The Light Room, named after Dutch designer lights by Pepe Heykoop and The Barn, which gets its name from the round high ceiling. These could house a total of 15 people. The Boardroom on the other hand could host a total of 10 people.

Even while the Ministry resurrects an international feel through Dutch-influenced design and colours of misty green, blue and white that are rarely seen in Indian architecture, the heritage of the property has been respected and the new space is adorned with contemporary Indian design brands such as Bombay Atelier and Jaipur Rugs, and antiques picked up from local markets. Given that the Kitab Mahal holds a prime spot in a historic precinct of Mumbai, Marlies and Natascha have worked to preserve its natural charm.

Looking back at the Ministry of New, it seems so much more than a workspace; more like a home, an inspiration, a platform for opportunities, collaborations, a venue for events and exhibitions, and a comfort zone for the regulars. MoN intends to expand across Bombay and even Pan-India. If you can’t always make your way here, we hope you see it elsewhere soon.

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