Opportunity and organization are the two themes Petro IT (a firm that documents the progress of oil and gas pipelines in India and abroad) wants to communicate to clients through the design for its office, completed in December by New Delhi-based design and architecture firm Kaaru.
“We wanted an office that would energize us,” said Sanjay Dwivedi, executive director of Chimes, the group which owns Petro IT. “We also wanted an office you would remember.” Redefining traditional notions of corporate offices, Kaaru, in collaboration with 70 craftspersons from all over India, designed the lobby and the top executive floor, in addition to contributing to other floors in the building. Their work covered approx. 24,000 sq. ft, and the assignment was completed within a tight time frame of six months. Kaaru designed everything, including the furnishings, panels, ceiling structures, lights and floors, using materials as diverse as wood, paper, cloth, stone, paint, metal and marble, living up to its belief that art should be brought into everyday living.
Throughout the Gurgaon office are 11 different craft forms, including traditional Mandla paintings from Madhya Pradesh on doors and panels, woven textiles from Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, Mysore wood inlay work in the conference room and CEO offices, and Patachitra folk painting from Orissa in the conference room.
Of the project cost, 40% was earmarked for the artisans, says Leena Namjoshi, Kaaru’s manager of communications. “Kaaru designs to generate wealth, which provides economic sustenance for many artisans across the country, and also contributes in its own small way in the preservation and propagation of this rich cultural wealth by opening avenues for their continuance in the modern world of architecture, art and design.”
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
1.The focal point of the reception area is this hand-beaten stainless steel and wood boat, whose size is not immediately apparent. It has an inlay of lily leaves in semi-precious stones and mother of pearl on a white marble base.
A dramatic light installation spirals over the boat and spreads into the seating area. The lobby wall also features large (9ft long) Jaisalmer stone panels, with Anni work from the region.
2. Fibonacci numbershave been incorporated into the office signage. They appear everywhere in nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants to the pattern of petals on a flower to the bracts of a pine cone. The pattern is, therefore, applicable in everyday life to the growth of every living thing. It also symbolizes the growth of business.
3..Wall panelling in a combination of natural fibres (grass, jute, banana) in natural shades and textures. A balance is created by contrasting the wall panels with sandstone panels in delicate shades of old rose, each framed in dark wood, for the partition walls of the semi-open spaces.
4..Central to the design concept is the idea of bringing the outdoors in. Animal forms, trees, lotus leaves and ferns in wood and stone inlay, etched on glass, or worked on door panels reinforce the design intent. This is a Patachitra painting from Orissa done on board.
5.A gigantic inlay of white marble on the yellow Jaisalmer floor, in the shape of a peepul leaf, creates its own drama on the executive floor. The leaf quirkily extends onto the fascia of the reception counter.
Kaaru’s design emphasizes sustainability. Natural flaws in materials such as wood are highlighted as striking features. “What Kaaru has tried to tell the world is that you can be contemporary, you can have your own language…You don’t have to copy anyone,” says Wakankar.
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