Mumbai-based Lodha Group announced in February its new luxury residential project in Upper Worli, Mumbai. Known as the World Towers, the ambitious project comprises World One, which the builder claims will be the world’s tallest residential tower at 117 storeys, and the World Crest, one of India’s tallest towers, soaring over 700 ft.
The World Towers will have three- and four-bedroom residences; villas, with a private pool; and duplex mansions with a private pool, gym and personal lift.
World One in Mumbai.
Lodha has partnered with several industry leaders to bring the project to life. For example, Armani/Casa is doing the interiors, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners is the design architect, Ken Smith Landscape Studio is doing the landscape design, and Quintessentially is providing concierge services.
The World Towers will be part of Lodha Place, an 18-acre development project in Upper Worli.
Indulge spoke with Abhishek Lodha and Giorgio Armani about the project.
GIORGIO ARMANI, president and CEO, Giorgio Armani group
“WE GAVE THE DESIGN AN INDIAN FEEL”
What made you choose India over places like Singapore or Hong Kong where the demand for luxury is greater?
India is undergoing a period of enormous change and unprecedented economic development. It may be slower than that being experienced in other places, like China, but, according to experts, that’s what makes it potentially more solid and durable.
Armani says comfort is a key in everything he does.
What is the nature of the partnership with Lodha Developers?
The World Towers is an offering that requires an in-depth understanding of the market on the part of the brand. It also requires the public to be ready for it. It has taken years for the right conditions to be created to make the project feasible. Now that time has come, and Lodha is the perfect partner for us... We will bring our design expertise to the project and Lodha will bring its expertise in property development.
What’s the scene in luxury high-end interior designing? How is it different from the past?
As with most of the things in the luxury market, interior designing has also been affected by the global economic crisis. However, this has not necessarily been a negative phenomenon. I believe that the problems in the world economy have meant that people are more aware of what constitutes good quality and design. They are prepared to pay for luxury, but only if they perceive the luxury to be genuine.
What are the emerging trends in interior designing?
I believe that a designer should have a point of view and be passionate about pursuing, exploring and developing that point of view. I believe there is nothing to be gained from following transient trends as this can lead you to all sorts of different directions, and you could lose your own distinctive voice. So where interiors are concerned, I believe that people will want design that stands for something that shows there is a clear vision behind it.
Beyond that, my opinion is that good design should aim to produce things that are both beautiful and functional. Comfort is another key quality in everything I do. The same is true for interiors. Then there is the issue of quality. In future, only the best conceived and made interiors, in terms of quality, will be considered truly luxurious.
How has the experience in India been? Has it been any different working here?
I have the utmost respect for India. It has entered the third millennium as a leader, with its information technology experts and mathematicians in demand throughout the world. At the same time, its traditions and culture have become widely assimilated into the world culture. What I am trying to do in my work here is to respect this incredible history, while, at the same time, respecting my own aesthetics.
As for the differences between India and the West, I would say that luxury in India is generally more visible than it is over here (in the West).
Designing interiors is different from designing other lifestyle products. What were the challenges in catering to localized needs?
You are absolutely correct, and it is a mark of a global designer that he can bring his vision to disparate cultures and find a global audience that understands the brand’s viewpoint.
However, while working on the World Towers, it was absolutely imperative to create interiors that would work for a local consumer, and so I took advice on this and incorporated features such as dedicated prayer rooms. I also explored certain patterns and motifs that have an Indian feel—for example the use of latticework—that I have introduced in the interiors.
What are your future plans in India?
You can be certain that India is going to be a very important place for the Armani Group in the near future. I would like to bring my complete range of collections to the people of India in a substantial way.
(Edited excerpts; interview via email)
ABHISHEK LODHA, managing director, Lodha Developers
“IT TOOK ALMOST 6 MONTHS TO CONVINCE ARMANI”
How did you think of partnering with Armani for the project?
We wanted the World Towers to be the best residential project not only in India, but in the world. And when we were thinking of the best partners, Armani was the obvious choice as the interior designer. The Armani team has been deeply involved in the design and execution of the project, which happens to be their first residential project in Asia.
Lodha looks to provide the finest luxury product available.
Were there any difficulties in pursuing the project with them?
Of course, there were difficulties. It took almost six months to persuade Mr Armani who took a lot of time to study our projects, learn about our business and stuff like that. And only after so much of evaluation he gave his go ahead to this project.
What kind of clientele are you targeting with the project?
I would say we are looking to provide the finest luxury product that is available in the country to anyone, from inside the country or abroad, who has the taste for the finer things in life, and understands luxury.
What kind of personalization options are you offering to the buyers?
There is significant amount of personalization options available to the buyers given the nature of the development. There are various packages available. The buyer can pick and choose what kind of stuff he wants in terms of furniture, curtains, carpets, etc. For some of the larger apartments, there is a programme where the buyer can go to Milan and see the design of his home done at the Armani/Casa design studio and get to choose the furnishings over there.
What are the post-sale services you are offering?
The post-sales services are a very important aspect of all the projects that we do. In this particular project, we have the partners, too, to take care of the post-sales services. For example, Quintessentially will take care of all the concierge services of the buyers once they move in.
What is the price range of the houses?
The apartments at Lodha Place are currently priced between around Rs. 10 crore and Rs. 60 crore.