“Our manifesto is one of atmospheric beauty, to understand what makes space? It cannot be what encloses it; however, the envelope of space is what gives it definition”, this is what Pranav Naik the co- founder of Studio Pomegranate firmly believes in. Studio Pomegranate was set up in 2013 by Shweta Chhatpar and Pranav Naik. It is persistently exploring opportunities and potential for integrated collaborative design.
“We continually refine our design process to better the skill sets of everyone involved in our projects. We strive to discover and reinforce the passion of the people we work with – whether it is a search for meaning in design, the desire to serve out to the community, sharing knowledge and experience, or understanding the power of new software applications”. Having said that Pranav explains what makes his firm divergent as compared to this competitive design industry.
Environmental appropriateness is an underlying theme in everything they do. Sustainable design is the basis for decision making in their projects. From orientation, material selections, and systems options, to understanding the entire life cycle of the building, so that it can adapt as with the program change.
In conversation with Gallopper, Pranav shares Studio Pomegranate’s design for the Ritu Kumar Flagship store.
“Our studio is persistently exploring opportunities and potential for integrated collaborative design. This store was designed almost as a gallery for Ritu Kumar’s outstanding collection of palampores and of course her garments, celebrating Kumar’s unique perspective and position in India”.
The design and architecture of the store embraces a society that recognizes modern design while being immersed in traditional cultural, rituals and aesthetics. These aspects of Kumar’s own work were the inspiration for the flagship, which is both a shopping environment and a veritable gallery of India’s rich textile heritage of printed chintz’. The architecture is a “place” for meandering and viewing, losing oneself in the imagery of 17th century palampores in a world of dance, music, and nuptials.
The architectural environment is a spatial narrative, centered primarily on a reading of what constitutes 17th century Indian textile craft, while also being a contemporary Bombay experience situated on the colonial Rampart Row. The overall atmosphere of the space is shaped as much by the exuberant vivacity of Indian culture as it is by the precision of the precise industrial elements of the space, reflected in both the garments, and architectural elements. This contemporary setting of seemingly contrasting but compatible opposites influences and sets the stage for the presentation of Kumar’s ensemble, creating a compelling spatial and visual experience.
The greatest contribution was perhaps the client’s. The textiles of the Indian Subcontinent had captivated the world for more than 2000 years. Along with cloth, painted or printed with dyes and pigments for the regions temples and courts. Much of India’s surviving textiles are scattered in museums across the globe, it is rare to see a representative range of the genius of India’s printers under one roof. Mrs. Kumar endeavored to design and recreate a greater variety of fiber, fabric, and patterning technique, to display India’s rich repertoire of textile design in this space. Studio pomegranate worked with Kumar’s studio to prime the space for these superb fabrics.
The challenges faced during the execution of the project were that the team was given about 45 days for construction, deducting the time taken in design and cost deliberations. This was possibly the hardest element to handle, considering in a city like Mumbai that celebrates its festivals with fervor. The other aspect, also related to time was design resolution, as designs were altered during construction; this project needed real time detailing, with several craftspeople on call to quickly produce hardware, lights, or other parts of the project, exclaimed Pranav.
Studio Pomegranate’s design for the Ritu Kumar Flagship store was decidedly conceived of as a bright open space utilizing a neutral palette of white and shades of pale green and grey, all serving to foreground Kumar’s colorful garments. The walls are rounded at the edges, alluding to the ageless beauty of 1920s Bombay; they don a neutral textured finish. The walls conceal in them a fastening mechanism for brass rods that the garments are hung on. As one walks through the store, printed fabrics greet the eye; these are 17th century Indian Palampores that once were a highlight in bourgeois’ homes. Most of these are “Tree of life” motifs; two are court scenes and dance scenes from the Deccan.
The bridal area is again covered entirely in these fabrics, a large vanity separates the bridal salon from the rest of the store, fluted glass softens and adds translucency to the varied nature patterns. The ceiling was built with pre-independence steel girders, these were garnet-blasted to restore their original color, then clear coated to seal the surface. Cables hang down from the ceiling to hold in place slender tracks for lights. Several more printed fabric panels are used in the bridal area, suspended in between the steel girders. These elements put together are the backdrop for the garments that adorn the racks of the flagship. They are also a fragment of a style of building with detail and precision that is being rapidly lost in modern Indian building construction.
Pranav believes that, every element of their process is design. From the way a line is drawn on paper, to the scheduling of construction, and presenting the finished space, everything is design. Hence he perceives and appreciates the effort and energy put into this collaboration by Kumar who was supportive of their design strategy, and showed great faith in the studio’s skill as fellow designers and architects.