The Ash Abode
A home with no white walls?! India based FADD Studio share their works and inspiration behind the Ash Abode – a zen like home that magnificently uses bold and unusual colour palettes, contrary to what one would naturally opt for when thinking zen and minimalist.
Grounded by simplicity, clean lines and solid colour blocks, the Ash Abode has several elements inspired by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, from their furniture, art and interior works. Additionally, a few bold Japanese elements are used to create a little drama.
FADD Studio Team :
Principal Designers: Farah Ahmed Mathias, Dhaval Shellugar
Project Designer: Dheeraj Dhamu
Photography : Gokul Rao Kadam
Styling Assistance: Shohini Munshi
Art: Nishi Nitya
The large green passage, a colour block of sorts anchors the rust floor and the grey-green walls. There is no white in the whole house! The foyer is a perfect composition of a Zen sensibility softly and seamlessly merging with a mid-centaury modern one and setting the tone for the whole duplex. The natural materials and neutral colours are key to the success of this stimulating experience of modest elegance. The curious combination of colour black and very carefully chosen furniture and light elements synchronize into a soft and peaceful symphony that could continue till eternity.
The apartment is located in Gurgaon in an apartment complex in a residential area. It is within a gated community and is duplex. The central living area has a lovely double height giving volume to the whole space. There are four bedrooms, a study and a plush living/dining space. Unfortunately, the apartment came with a very common marble floor and needed to be uplifted or else the beautiful space would be brought down by its conventionality.
The apartment was for a family of 4 – a couple and their two daughters. The couple travel a lot and wanted a practice space, which would require little maintenance. Because they were already designing a holiday home with tropical Indian colours in Bangalore, they wanted this house to be a modern and minimalistic look and feel. The idea was for them to design two different design sensibilities.
During the time, we were deeply inspired by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret – their deep sienna passage of the Villa La Roche, their Chandigarh series and the general polychromatic feel of some of their work. The purist canvases of Corbusier led us to a path of sombre colours for the shell. We wanted cement finishes for the whole home and surprisingly the clients were very open to the direction we chose.
The marble floor needed covering so poured cement was not only a cost-effective solution but also one that gave a large palette of colours to choose from. Grey would be too common, so we researched several colour combinations. We decided to go with a deep, unsaturated rust/sienna colour for the floor and would bring in cool grey/green in other areas to offset it warm. This was a unique choice in colour for the floor but we were confident that our vision to pair it with grey and green would make it a big success.
The unusual palette of the cement finished grey; sienna and sage set the stage for a sophisticated and refined shell, which also had a Zen-like calmness and stillness to it. We wanted the materiality of the walls, the ceiling and the floor to be harmoniously matt, only to differ in colour. In the grey shell with the rust floor, we made the connecting passage a refreshing leaf green to create a colour block akin to Villa La Roche. To preserve this serene and sober experience, we intentionally decided to have natural browns and greens in terms of fabrics. These would complement the woven mid-century modern furniture spread across the house.
The bedrooms have a more intimate feel especially the daughters. For one daughter we used different colours in putty finish and created a geometric background to be the backdrop for a soft lilac bed. In the other daughter’s room, we had local artist hand paint a floral abstraction. The master has an elegant grid done in grooved putty too. The furniture is a mix of imported brands and locally customised. The natural colours and materials of the furniture pieces stand out vibrantly against the textured grey walls of the house giving the otherwise serious shell a dash of drama.
To accent and highlight the space we used metal elements – the main door that is copper, a copper border on bedroom doors and a few bedroom lights.
Because the space is essentially an unfussy matt shell with a putty/cement texture, we wanted to bring in bold silhouettes and some glossy texture to enhance and contrast the background respectively. So, without disturbing the understated look of the home, we used a minimalist approach while deciding the style of the central chandelier. We needed something large but something that didn’t distract from the overall textural quality of the double height space.
The choice was easy with the larger than life wire frame chandelier. The clients loved its simplicity because it not only filled the volume of the double height, but its simple construction of the elegant black outline also showed off at the grey that it is set against. A similar approach was taken for the dining room light. A black wire begins at the wall, hinges on to the ceiling and drops a simple black shade to softly illuminate the table. Less is more and it was all that was needed with this set up.
For the bedrooms, to attain more personal and intimate lighting, we decided to go with materials that create some drama and shadows. We went with wooden slated shades in the guest room to work with the stripes of the bed fabric; metal and paper lights in the two daughters rooms to contrast the solid bed upholstery; stone and paper lights in the master to contrast the cane headboard. In the study we brought in some colour with the hanging light in the corner. The family room has lovely floor lamps made out of cane. These add softness to area that is styled with blues and browns. At the entrance we created a simple disc in wood to emulate an eclipse just above the Chandigarh bench. This completed the Zen-meets-mid-century modern look and gave the foyer a burst of life. In all, this home exudes a peaceful and understated vibe, representing the client’s personality in just the right way.