Designers of the Week: Kayzad and Maria
Full-time business and life partners Kayzad Shroff and Maria Leon started their reputed design firm ShroffLeon in 2010, after spending 4 years together in Cornell University. Since then, they’ve been known for their focus on clean lines, largely minimalist palette and contemporary take on design.
Last month, they unveiled their latest project – a stylish apartment in uptown Mumbai. The duo gives us the lowdown on how they managed to transform the poorly structured building into a sleek Manhattan-esque residence within a year.
Kayzad: “The creative brief was simple. The house needed to be all white, and that included everything from the cupboards to the TV consoles. It was pretty much the starting point for us, with all of the rooms.”
Maria: “Yes, the clients wanted everything white. It was definitely a challenge for us to work with a relatively limited colour palette, since our first material of choice is usually something natural like veneer or wood.”
They revealed later that the home was once a six-room apartment for a very large joint family. With most of the birds leaving the nest, the home was to be redesigned for the three generations that stayed: a young couple, their daughters, and the grandparents.
Maria: “It was an old building which had big columns, and it was generally not planned well. To accommodate them all, we had to restructure the home into 3 large bedrooms.”
We wondered how they accounted for the various preferences and personalities, while keeping the ever-present colour palette in mind.
Kayzad: “Since they insisted on white, we ended up using a different material palette of various materials and texture and tones of white, for each room. We also sat with them and figured out what each of them needed in their room.”
Maria: “For example, the grandparents wanted a small sit-out for their evening cup of chai. The young couple wanted a workspace within their room, while the daughters wanted a space where they could chill with their friends.”
Kayzad: “We also opened up the façade, which originally had really tiny windows, to create French windows that brought in a lot of natural light. It also resulted, subconsciously, in us choosing blue because of the ocean.”
It was clear that the colour palette may have diverted from their other projects, but it wore the modern stamp of the ShroffLeon aesthetic. We spotted flowing white curtains and ivory marble flooring blending seamlessly with printed blue fabrics from Sarita Handa and stunning brass accents. We particularly loved the eclectic lights that seemed to break the ivory monotony.
“It was definitely an exercise for us to step out of our comfort zone, but we enjoyed it and we’re very happy with the outcome!” laughs Maria.