An exclusive interview with our lead designer, Tasneem Arsiwala, about her latest design endeavour — a Mumbai home for an HR executive-turned-chef who’s running her cafe from home
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
Indeed! No matter what you do, a hungry stomach can’t find anything inspiring. It’s as if your body is craving the smell of fresh and delicious dishes, and nothing else makes sense. And this has to be the most common feeling for all of us. After all, food is our fuel. Not just that, food is our emotion, our necessity and even our expression.
Each year on October 16, World Food Day is celebrated to recognise the importance of food. It’s a day that celebrates the love for food as well as the need for it. So on this particular day, we thought of bringing to you a story of one of our special clients, a chef, and her home’s interior design.
Priyanca Shetty, a Mumbai-based HR executive-turned-chef runs her family business, a cafe, from home. She is also a wife, a mother and a dog parent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she started taking orders from her home. This made her realise that she wanted her home to be more functional as per her requirements. This brought a new way of rethinking home design to include a chef’s kitchen design that’s no less than a restaurant cooking haven and a house built around it.
We have Tasneem Arsiwala, the Lead Design Alchemist at Design Cafe, Mumbai, to elaborate on this unique home design. Tasneem shares her experience and the overall design thinking that led to this gorgeous home.
First of all, Tasneem, can you please tell us briefly about the project and the client?
Sure. This project is about designing a cutting-edge Mumbai home for this young, lovely couple who live with their two-year-old daughter and a cute little dog, Zoey. The wife, Priyanca, is a work-from-home chef and the husband, Vishwanathan, works in branding solutions. They are a nuclear family who wanted to have a house designed as per their lifestyle. They wanted the house to have the most modern sensibilities, adapted to the fast-paced life of Mumbai — the city of dreams. They specifically wanted us to focus on the kitchen design to create a special chef’s kitchen design.
Can you elaborate on the client requirements?
The house is a 2BHK, a typical Mumbai space with a narrow living room area. So the family wanted an interior design that comprehends the house’s layout and makes it look spacious and more inclusive of their lifestyles. They wanted the house to feel more like a studio apartment well equipped for Priyanca’s work-from-home life. So, they were clear that they wanted their home to be more purposeful and less typical. They wanted an innovative space instead of a formally planned house. As mentioned, they were specifically interested in a modular kitchen design. As Priyanca is serving her cafe orders from home, she wanted her kitchen to have a purposeful, homely chef’s kitchen design that stays connected to the rest of the house.
Tell us how our design has helped the client in their everyday life
As mentioned, Priyanca has been working from home. That means she’s preparing all the orders for her cafe in the house’s kitchen. Thus, she is mainly in the kitchen, experimenting with food and recipes. So, she wanted her kitchen to be a core part of their home design. Also, her kid and the dog stay in the house, so she needs to keep an eye on them while working. Therefore, she wanted us to design the kitchen in such a way that its counter faces the kid and the dog in the living room. This way she can watch over the house, the kid and the dog.
So, to make the kitchen more accessible and part of the house’s core, we opened up the kitchen layout for them and turned it into a breakfast counter-cum-bar table. Then we strategically positioned the TV unit on the wall to be perfectly visible from the kitchen. This helps her watch cooking videos and recipes as well as fun shows while cooking. With the inclusion of the open kitchen, the living area now looks bigger and better.
Have we used any new/innovative design features in the project? If yes, what?
We have used sensor-based lights in the kitchen. This makes every corner of the kitchen suitably illuminated. The lights also make the kitchen cabinets more reachable, assisting the client with easy access to the cans, dishes, etc. We have also given additional importance to the kitchen lighting since the client will be spending a lot of time in the space.
How is this project different from other houses we have designed?
This project is indeed very different from all the other houses I have designed. Usually, people look for more storage from modular designs. However, this family wanted a more personalised design. Since storage wasn’t their priority, they wanted the space to be practical and purposeful. They also wanted the house’s rooms to be as per each member of the family’s requirements — including the dog. They wanted their space to be open, accessible and minimal so that the kid and the dog could play around freely.
Can you mention some prominent Design Cafe elements in this project?
The most prominent feature of the house is the open chef’s kitchen design. And because the chef in the house didn’t want too many storage options, we innovated with the skirting drawers in the kitchen cabinets. The skirting drawers are purposefully designed to stack the baking trays, large serving trays, etc.
We have also utilised the space in their dry balcony to provide a janitor unit. As a chef, Priyanca needs a lot of cleaning in the kitchen after every cooking spree. So the janitor unit helps in keeping the brooms, mops, washing essentials, etc., under the cabinet.
Mumbai houses are known for their limited space. How do you think our design helps the family to deal with the space constraints?
Design Cafe is known for its space-saving designs. Hence, for this house as well, we have used our space maximisation techniques. One such aspect is again in the kitchen area. Because of the layout and the chef’s kitchen design, the house had to compromise on the regular dining area. Thus, we designed an extended kitchen counter to give the family a nice, practical breakfast counter. We also provided an extended seating space so that the kitchen counter could also include guests and friends.
Finally, can you tell us if there were any challenges in designing this project? If yes, how did we overcome them?
The major challenge for this project was that we had to design it during the lockdown. Thus due to the travelling restrictions within the city, we had to meet and discuss the house over video calls.
So, you can say that we have entirely designed the apartment over video calls. We presented the clients with 3D renders to explain the colours, materials, etc. Even with this drawback, we could understand the client’s requirements, conceptualise the design and finalise everything over our virtual meets. I think this project marked our new era of online design discussions.