Housing couture: the sculptural and spatial allure of Vishal K Dar's retail architecture
by Devanshi ShahApr 28, 2023
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by Sohil SoniPublished on : Apr 05, 2023
Throughout history, drawings, paintings and other flattened art forms have attempted to capture the three-dimensional world we inhabit. In Europe, Renaissance period artists deciphered and established techniques to capture the world realistically—as close dimensionally as perceived by the eye. Thereafter, architectural drawing segued to become a representational and instructional tool on paper, imagining a more material architecture, establishing itself as a primary tool, that is used till date.
However, over the years, attempts have been made to blur this divide between two-dimensional and three-dimensional mediums. Take for instance, the artists and architects aligned with the De Stijl and Suprematism movements, who extended the composition of lines and planes on canvas into making objects, furniture, and architecture—the Rietveld Schröder House and Barcelona Pavillion being prime examples of these habitable compositions.
Borrowing from this dimensionality and extension of lines and planes The Architecture Story has designed Doki Doki, referencing Gerrit Rietveld's Red Blue Chair (1918-1923), re-imagining a retrofitted store. The chair, designed to be modular and mass-produced from standard pieces of lumber, was a composition of intersecting non-rectilinear lines and surfaces, this reflects in the retail store design, which is a composition of continuous lines that curve, turn and fold, dividing the floor into display and circulation spaces. Modular and flexible by design, the bent blue metal pipes can be readjusted to alternate configurations or, if need be, adapted to different locations. Unlike traditional retail stores, the display is not aligned to the periphery of the interiors but is encountered at the core of the space. Visitors will have to navigate between these lines to access the product on display, intertwining function and experience.
Dispersed between these lines are shorter objects, contributing to the navigational experience, contrasted in red, doubling as functional–chairs, tables and shelves. The designers state, “We have been exploring furniture over the last five years and see our products as an extension of our spatial practice.” The texture of the hand-cast cement floor offsets the solid red and blue. The elements of the pre-existing structure, like the walls and wooden rafters of the pitched roof, are coated in a neutral white.
Located on Calicut Street in Ballard Estate in Mumbai, the structure, previously served as a storage facility for a nearby ice factory. Abutting the docks, this neighbourhood of Mumbai has several similar storehouses that were used to store imported ice until the late 1800s, when the first factory opened here. Many lie abandoned now, with some units being re-purposed and transformed into art galleries, cultural centres and stores like IF.BE and Doki Doki. The designers explain, “It was crucial for us to maintain the warehouse's integrity, including its pitched roof and wooden beams. Fortunately, we had a client who was passionate about design and open to taking risks, allowing us to create a flexible, modular system that respected the warehouse's history.”
A hand-painted and three-toned striped mural painted on the wall facing the street introduces a new visual rhythm to the busy street, before revealing the interior experience. A second mural, which is a part of the retail space, also connects to a gallery space behind it. Lines, grids, and surfaces—curve, turn and distort to create this sweeping Doki Doki experience that appears to be like walking into a canvas. This project is at the intersection of graphic art and object and space-making.
Elaborating on their practice, the designers state, “The Architecture Story (TAS) is a space design studio for immersive storytelling. Founded by Deepak Jawahar and Justine De Penning with backgrounds in architecture and theatre, TAS creates contextualised social experiences in buildings, spaces and objects.” The Doki Doki experience is no exception.
Name: Doki Doki
Location: 7 Calicut Road, Ballard Estate, Mumbai
Area: 116 sqm
Year of Completion: 2023
Architects: The Architecture Story
Lead Architect: Deepak Jawahar and Justine De Penning
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