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Design Owl #GetInspired - The Folly House :Envisioned by The Busride Design Studio, the Folly House is symbolic of how progressive design and architecture is making its mark in India.

The Living Folly Functions
The Living Folly Execution

The folly surface is constructed as a mesh of bent mild steel flats resting on stainless branch-like supports. The metal framework is then skinned with flexi ply on top and bottom and finally clad by 1/2”-3/4” thick teak wood planks set in a herringbone pattern.

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Workspace 31 Jan 2017

Inside The Folly House by The Busride Design Studio

The Busride Design Studio responded to their clients’ house makeover brief “Make Mistakes” with what they like to call “Soupy Spaces”. With unique custom-made multidimensional furniture that were guided by the philosophy of Tangram and inspired by Follies, thus being christened The Folly House. Filled with magnificent standalone pieces that are both entities within themselves yet related to each other, The Folly House creates a tapestry of interactions as you go from space to space. Of the many design solutions, we will be focusing on two - The Living Folly and The Study Folly.

When the clients, an entrepreneur duo, asked Ayaz & Zameer Basrai to helm the project with imagination and functionality, giving them free reign to refurbish their sprawling 4500 square feet space, The Busride Design Studio brothers went all out.

Design Owl #GetInspired - The Folly House :Envisioned by The Busride Design Studio, the Folly House is symbolic of how progressive design and architecture is making its mark in India.

Embedded within each artefact are stories, experiences and utility. Inspired by the ancient Chinese puzzle of Tangram, each piece of furniture in the home is individually unique, yet they together complement each other organically. Another key point of departure was a play on the word ‘Folly’ both technically and metaphorically. Architecturally, Folly is used to describe an extravagant object, usually furniture, with little purpose other than décor and a conversation piece. The Busride’s creations for The Folly House, are definitely conversation starters in addition to being packed with purpose and utility.

As they shared, “Our approach was to create an open plan home where every functionality of the home was compacted into flexible, mobile objects. The remaining space was left untouched, activated only when these objects unfolded, rotated or pivoted open. The living room consists of two such objects, a sculptural  carved wooden topography and a fold-out wooden cube. The continuity of space was paramount in the design of both objects. This created an ‘exteriority’ within the interior space.”

“The overall experience of the house transformed from ‘living in rooms’ to ‘living amongst objects’. Since the nature of each object is different, the house remains unpredictable and new relationships between everyday home objects are constantly discovered. Chance and unpredictability create follies. Follies are objects in a garden of no particular purpose. Follies are also mistakes.”

Fittingly titled The Living Folly, this behemoth undulating horse-shoe shaped piece looks alive and inviting. Being entrepreneurs with young children, the clients wanted a space that could serve as both inspiration and distraction.

To create The Living Folly, it was first planned basis the 6 functions it serves separately and then seamed together on a herringbone pattern skeleton so that the different ply pieces could be assembled accurately. In some cases, to attain the correct curvature, the plywood had to be literally carved out of a piece of wood. It had to be created at the site with a dedicated team working together. At one point, Zameer reminisces, “there were 30 people sanding and polishing the Living Folly”.

The Living Folly Execution

The folly surface is constructed as a mesh of bent mild steel flats resting on stainless branch-like supports. The metal framework is then skinned with flexi ply on top and bottom and finally clad by 1/2”-3/4” thick teak wood planks set in a herringbone pattern.

The Living Folly Functions

For instance, it appears as though it is not looking at anything in particular, but within the undulating surfaces are ergonomically shaped enclosures that can be converted to a front room by changing the direction of the loose furniture to face it. Similarly the underbelly of it has been raised off the floor to create a cave-like structure for the kids to play in. On this, Zameer illustrated “a hypothetical, map of the world. The only real places on this map are places that are memorable to the family or places they’ve always wanted to visit”. It is like an adventure for child and adult alike. In the illustration, Zameer, has hidden messages in corners and has taken inspiration from some of his favourite books as well, “yes, there is even the Eye of Sauron somewhere in there...So contrary to the abstract curves of the folly above, the underside of the folly has been highly personalized.”

The Living Folly bridges the connection to the neat cuboidal Study Folly when it is opened to reveal a TV and home theater, for the family to comfortably sit across.

The Folly House is what The Busride call “Soupy Spaces”, which they define with a series of juxtapositions in fluidity. They elaborate, “Soupy Spaces...are flexible, combinative, evolving, formative, generative, shared, excitable, transformative, experimental and...are not permanent, established or formed. They appear and disappear at will. In soupy spaces formations like communities, professional groups, public are in constant flux[...]Each formation achieves its particular hierarchies, its own level of heterogeneity, gendering, identities to meet a particular need. And as the need transitions into another, so does the space. Soupy spaces are not non-ideological spaces, but temporarily ideological spaces to address a particular need”.

While the Living Room as a whole is organised about these two pieces, do not be misled by the gallery-esque minimalism. On the contrary it is “highly biographical, and customized for the family. Their formal presence in the space is completely transformed once their functionalities are revealed, and when they are occupied and used during the day. The only real interaction between the two living room follies is that of watching television. In fact, since the house consists of a number of follies which are different in function, size, geometry and material, the ceiling is designed to integrate the house experientially and to code the intended relationships between its parts”.

The Folly House was even more meaningful to the Basrai brothers for two reasons, first because it is the Studio’s first residential project and second because their father, Shakir Basrai was the chief contractor for it.

Working with their father on a project is a rarity due to the exclusive and esteemed level of work Shakir produces. Shakir’s focus is primarily wood and furniture at that. He is a reputed designer amongst his peers and in his community, with a wealth of experience to help realize experimentive pieces that have never been made before. Hence, becoming more of an invaluable mentoring experience for Ayaz and Zameer.

Thus, a family project for a family.

The Study Folly is like a magic box with many treasures waiting to be revealed. It unfolds along paths and opens up to interact with the Living Folly on one side. With mobile study tables, pivoting shelves for curios and concealed storage units within, it makes for a nifty adaptable space complete with a foldout library.

The Basrai’s add, “The Study Folly consists of a slender steel armature around which the mobile elements are anchored. The entire volume of the cube is filled with cabinetry in its closed position and it can only be occupied once opened. In its closed position the wooden cube only suggests uses and possibilities. The paneling patterns and floor channels are meant to guide operations of the folly. But contrary to the stark image the closed cube provides to the house, its default state is all-open. It is actually only bundled up when the family is entertaining guests and are out of the house.”

Unlike the Living Folly, the Study Folly is matte and more stately, perfectly contrasting the free flowing, flamboyant shape of the Living Folly. The Study Folly also mirrors the Tangram Pattern used on the walls and tiling of the Living Room, thus tying it all together.

Work In Progress images  & Diagrams courtesy The Busride Design Studio.

Post completion Images copyright Kunal Bhatia for The Busride Design Studio.

Video courtesy DesignOwl.