Balaji Silk Showroom / Studio TAB

Project: Balaji Silks

Category: Retail Interiors.

Location: Mumbai Project Area: 4500 sqft spread across 2 floors.

Design Firm : studio TAB.

Partners & Principal Architects: Rahul Das Menon & Ojas Chaudhari

Brand Development: Three Bags Full.

Interior Contractual Team: M.M. Interiors Ltd. Photography : Pankaj Anand

Balaji Silks - Weaving a creative experience in every sense.

Form Follows Fashion in this brainchild of Studio TAB, Lead by Ar. Rahul Das Menon & Ar.Ojas Chaudhari , the design investigates the commonalities between architecture and fashion – to create an iconic space . While architecture gives us a spaces to live & work in, Designs at The Balaji Silk Showroom are no less than wearable Art.

Balaji Silk's is a well established brand in Mumbai operating for over 20 years. They approached the studio for setting up their first ever retail showroom and subsequently 3 other showrooms that would roll out soon.

Client's Brief :

Their brief was simple - they wanted to set up showrooms that are unique and easily distinguishable from all other silk saree showrooms across India. They wanted their first showroom to create a buzz in the silk saree industry and to catapult their brand into the league of top retail brands.

With a brief like this, where the client wanted everything or nothing, the studio began with an intense case study of silks saree showrooms of India and realized that most showrooms undermine the grandeur attached to the silk sari by creating showrooms which are overtly pompous & over the top opulent. This undermines the natural richness which a silk saree exudes. Due to this, the customer comfort timeline within the showroom is reduced considerably.

Design Process :

"The rigorous concept generation process for this project took us 3 weeks wherein we stripped off every preconceived default idea attached to a saree showroom. We evolved the design around the space's main element - the saree. We wanted to let this element drive the entire design process. Taking cue from the fact that the stars shine the brightest against a dark sky, we wanted the space to be underplayed with subtle colour palette such that the sarees and their colours would dazzle the most." - Principal Architects.

The Studio followed a non linear, organic design methodology for this project where they derived every element within the space from the meandering form of the fabric. This has been translated in the layout, staircase, display, counters, etc.

Ground floor:

The architects wanted to create a signature design at the entrance to create an immediate, awe inspiring impact without affecting the flow of retail space and set about looking for a space within the showroom that would encapsulate our entire design philosophy and would leave patrons floored. Thus, we chose the ceiling.

The most prominent part of this project has been the wave ceiling which is experienced as soon as one steps inside the showroom. We wanted to create a brand signature within the double height ceiling. After studying various materials and their properties, we adopted parametric solutions to create the unique ceiling pattern that captivates attention as soon as one steps inside the showroom.

The ground floor is planned in a very clean, clutter free arrangement to help customer convenience. The display racks are lined on opposite walls while the central part of the space has been designed with a backlit engraved honey onyx stone that has the showroom's logo carved into it.

The staircase has been designed as a free standing art piece. The staircase is of a curvilinear form that flows seamlessly between the 2 floors. Flanking the staircase is a triple height mural that adorns a pattern made carefully by assembling mirrors, brushed finished stainless steel and frost glass panels. The transition space between 2 floors thus is rendered captivating to a customer.

First floor:

As soon as the meandering staircase opens onto the first floor, the whole display of authentic, richly crafted, exclusive silk sarees enthrals the customer with the seamless artistic stroke of design that accentuates the entire floor. The entire silk saree collection is seen in one glance due to the radial planning of the floor layout. This creates an immediate mesmerising impact of what the brand has to offer.

The whole silk saree zone has been planned along one stroke of design that flows along all 3 axis of the space. The floor, display racks, the ceiling, the lighting, etc all are elegantly woven around one curvaceous arc that creates a pleasant & unique retail experience. Each element of this space blends beautifully with each other to create a harmony.

Every aspect of this space has been meticulously planned - be it the calculated lighting factor or the anthropometrically measured seating; be it the intelligent layout pattern that helps better crowd management or the textures of the space. The ceiling has been draped in a radial planned parametric strip pattern that gives an industrial rustic backdrop to the rich silk sarees while an oak hardwood flooring render the necessary warmth to the space. All this have helped create longer duration of customer engagement.

"Every design factor in this showroom shapes itself around the saree element so beautifully that it becomes difficult to imagine this space as anything apart from a saree experience. "

Apart from the space enhancement aspect of the brand, the studio tied up with a brand development & advertising agency - Three Bags Full and worked together in tandem to elevate the brand's identity. This multi level creative collaboration helped the brand immensely as there was healthy exchange of ideas, harmonious interdependent design elements that stamped its class not just in the space enhancement but also in the brand packaging, tags, visual merchandise, brand stationery, etc.

About studio TAB:

Ar.Ojas Chaudhari

Both Rahul & Ojas were on a explorative sabbatical when they decided to work together after gaining experience under renowned architectural firms in Mumbai. What started as a friendly collaborative experiment in 2011, turned out to be a runaway success with their first project getting widely published.

From here, there was no looking back. The philosophy of the firm spells strongly in its name: studio TAB - The Architecture Break.

Ar.Rahul Das Menon

Each project begins with breaking down every stereotype attached to it.

Once we are able to achieve this, we come to understand what the project truly needs.

From here on begins the design exercise, at both micro and macro level.

This work process has been the crux of the firm's philosophy right from its advent. This approach has helped the firm build projects in over 20 regions across India.