Scaling down details to make children friendly spaces – Mrinal Bhatia

To have a conversation about Peppa pig, sea astronauts, gymnastics or play kitchen-kitchen with my toddler clients has been tougher than sketching the skyline of Chicago at -4 degrees with my fingers numb wrapped in woollen gloves for a sketching class or even being up until wee hours of morning trying to send out a door and hardware schedule for 100 odd doors.

My research and home work was actually watching these shows and spending more time with this age group while working on their projects.

my-profile-3Having graduated from Harrington College of Design in Chicago, the land of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies, I felt leaning towards this Miesian quote- “True education is concerned not only with practical goals but also with values. Our aim assure us of our material life, our values make possible our spiritual life. “

Hopping from Chicago school to San Francisco and then back to Mumbai, I started freelancing under the banner of MB Interior Architecture since September of 2015. With my experience being a part of the design team while we were conceptualizing for pre-school and primary education, I felt very comfortable while relating to my young clients.

In the series of work in the past year, most of it was to do with kids and their extended spaces. I had an opportunity to design bunk-beds, childrens’ retail and children’s art studio.

Aadya & Anaya’s pinkish fairy abode: for big and little sister sprung for the tent-like space that they could call their own. Space to store their toys and activity games, fairy lights on the ceiling of the lower level where they could have play dates and pretend play with all their friends and space above enough for them all to bed for sleepovers. We didn’t miss giving them a whole chalkboard wall to draw, learn to write or maybe later they could use it to practise maths or balance chemistry equations.

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Sara’s rock-climbing wall with slide bunk: She is a gymnast with a creative mind. The first requirement that was told to me was to have rock climbing wall to go up the bunk and a slide from the upper bunk that would spiral around the room! I had to trade the second part of that idea with her for a trip to Imagica! She wanted a little something to go with the solar system and the universe theme. Sara loves painting. We gave her a hand painted back wall gradient from midnight deep blue cutting through all the atmospheric layers on its way down to the lower bunk to sky blue. She would paint her planets in the deep blue galaxy. The lower area was designed as a library and a nook for reading. A little private space for Sara.

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Colour Crates, A hobby art studio for kids of all age groups was relocating and multiplying their studio 4 times their current space. This studio has raised kids/artists and groomed them to hone their love for colour and art. Students from here have found their way to Parsons to pursue their passion. Thought leader and artist herself, Devanshi Damani wanted this new space at Tardeo to transform to be the studio to teach, an art gallery  and a place where various artists could come together to run a creative workshop.

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colour-crates-2-lrDevanshi encourages the young minds also get together to feature and talk about their art work at Cymrosa Art Gallery once a year. We designed flexible tables and seating for all age groups, projection wall at the back for critique and open storage. Flexible lighting for task work with focus lights for display. The welcoming staircase to the mezannine shouts out art, which all of us painted till late evening on the day before the opening. Their festive workshops are amazing!! At Colour Crates one can stroke a brushful of acrylic on one’s canvas.

first-love-6-lrAt the first quarter of 2016, Yamini Dalal came up to us to conceptualize the design for her flagship store for kids footwear at Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla: FIRST LOVE. She wanted the store to represent the Spanish brands, the sophistication and to make it kid friendly too. We worked along through the concepts, branding, graphics and how it all would come together for FIRST LOVE as a brand. Scaled down details so that a child can relate to it,  flexible & light weight display that could be gathered together as seats for a storytelling session or an in-store activity added to the finesse of the store built around classical architectural details to showcase footwear and warm wedgewood and ivory – gold tones. Here one can get the cutest pair in jellies and canvases.first-love-7-lr

In retrospect, 2015-2016 has been a year full of designing of kids spaces that got picked from my bowl of experience in doing corporate commercial interiors, work space strategy, residential, healthcare and education over past 10+ years.

About the author:

picture1With a Diploma in Interior Design from L.S Raheja College of Architecture 2002, Mrinal Bhatia interned with Architect Toezer Contractor for about a year and a half. She then, graduated with fine arts in interior design from Harrington College of Design, Chicago 2005 which was then followed by two amazing internships at SCB and Environments Group (Now Perkins+Will). 

Having a work experience of 5 years at RMW Interiors & Architecture, San Francisco and 3 years at Cannon Design, Mumbai, and working with each of these firms, has given Mrinal a spectrum of experience working with experts in their respective verticals, with grounding values and vision. She  started working under the banner of MB Interior Architecture in 2015 to create her own personal space.

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