In their Mumbai home, Kayzad Shroff and María León of SHROFFLEóN find common ground between life and design
DEC 25, 2023 | By Namrata Dewanjee
Where does design end and life begin for an architect? We asked Kayzad Shroff and María Isabel Jiménez León, principal architects and co-founders of SHROFFLEóN for whom the act of designing the 1,350 sq ft Mumbai apartment was an exercise in creating a space that wraps around their lifestyle while still experimenting with the new. The resulting abode is articulated with a keen understanding of the life that is lived between the lines on a blueprint.
Carving out nuestra casa
“The apartment was previously owned by a company that had transformed it into an executive guest house. We had to pull all walls down, start from scratch and carve out new spaces that fitted our requirements,” María and Kayzad explain. On the tabula rasa overlooking what they describe as the “madness of Lower Parel”, the designers have crafted an oasis for themselves.
Stepping through the main door, with the kitchen to your left, a passage separated by a ribbed-glass sliding door takes you into the living and dining space. Next to the violin and the piano in the living area, is a charming Christmas tree. Seville-born María says with visible elation that all she can think about is spending the holidays with her family in Spain. Directly opposite the festive decoration is the East facing terrace bringing in the warm and humid Bombay air (a far cry from any European white Christmas).
A “spartan” palette, almost
The home is created with layers of natural material palette in a “palimpsest”, with a multiplicity of materials, colours and textures bringing dimension to what was once a flat surface. Choosing three materials, wooden floorings, black mild steel shelving units and a matte-polished heavy-grained marble, the designers create numerous permutations, juxtaposing them with lime-plaster walls and brass accents. The master bedroom follow the same austere language but on a more intimate scale.
However, the neutrals take a break when it comes to their 11-year-old son’s room. Accessed through an alcove, the colourful space has a bespoke bed and storage for his toys, books and video games.
Intricacies in the Details
Throughout the home, the designers use materials to convey a hierarchy of space. For the master bathroom, they wanted to create a monolithic chamber where everything from the floor to the cabinet shutters was to be made of the same material. Apart from the architects studying the grain meticulously, they note that the help of the karigars here was indispensable.
In the powder room where the space was constrained, they used Lassa White on the floor and walls letting the marble wash basin be the focus.
Every object in its place
From the careful shadow between the horizontal and vertical planes of the home to the thoughtful curation of art, the architects wield a masterful attention to detail. The first piece of art you see when you enter is the playful sculptural head by Gurjeet Singh atop the piano. On the next wall, arranged on the geometric shelf, is a bronze breastplate along with other objets d’art.
The narrative thread running through the home is an interplay of contrasts, lush plants and straight lines, marble and mild steel, solids and voids. On the wall adjoining the dining area, this attribute is most visible. Here, a pair of antique wooden door brackets from the couple’s first trip to Rajasthan is placed in two niches carved between structural columns, dressed again in marble and mild steel.
However, sitting between beautiful family photographs and half-empty espresso cups placed on striking bronze coffee tables, you can’t help but wonder if the sign of mindful design is where it accommodates life. Or do the two meet at the threshold of inhabitation, where the mundane is made beautiful?
You may also like: Deco design in this modern Mumbai home by Shroffleón has our heart