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Designer touch

With a touch of interior designer Sandeep Khosla's magic, living and workspaces begin to tell more about their inhabitants

VARIOUSLY CALLED versatile, innovative, and adventurous, Sandeep Khosla is fast emerging as one of the most-respected and successful architect-interior designers in our country. Bangalore-based Khosla and his firm have an impressive track record of commercial, residential, restoration, and hospitality projects all of which have created waves and attracted attention for their creativity.

When complimented, Sandeep modestly says that it is the client's brief that gives direction to the project. But all his clients vouch for Sandeep's enviable panache that translates their brief into living or work spaces that are noted for their innovativeness and utility.

Styling indoors

The best part is the variety in his work. ING Vysya Bank's office is sleek and sophisticated, while the F Lounge and Bar is flamboyant and bold, reflecting all the drama and razzle-dazzle of Fashion TV. The Manwaring home in a serene, rustic setting on the city's outskirts is international in styling, but Indian in essence. In fact, this home is a good example of Sandeep's ability to seamlessly fuse the best of the modern and traditional. So in the Manwaring residence, the traditional Indian courtyard, verandah, Mangalore tiled-roof, and local stone are integrated into a modern vocabulary. The western-style furniture and light fittings blend harmoniously with the Indian paintings, pottery, objects d'art, and silk furnishings.

Building makeovers

The Touch resto-lounge in Hyderabad for filmstar Nagarjuna is a dramatic space that now redefines the nightlife in that city. It's chic and classy. Like Spinn, one of the trendiest bars to happen to our Pub City. It is a beautifully restored colonial bungalow, juxtaposed with a retro-modern interior. Azurro in Delhi is remarkable for its innovatively handcrafted and customised details. The Nike India office reflects the vibrancy and energy that the brand tries to project. There is a justified pride in Sandeep's voice, when he mentions the Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw home on Hosur Road. Designed as a Spanish-style hacienda with Indian influences (Kiran's husband Shaw had lived long in Spain and wanted a home that reminded him of that), it has earned him plenty of attention.

Contemporary touch

Sandeep is certainly not your head-in-the-air academic. He takes into account the environmental and cultural milieu he works in. So homes in Bangalore take advantage of the city's climate and materials, while Touch in Hyderabad pays tribute to the native Nizam heritage. How does Sandeep himself describe his style? "We are essentially modernists with a global contemporary design vocabulary. Yet we are sensitive to our context. Our architecture has a tropical sensibility, and reinterprets traditional concepts like the semi-enclosed spaces such as courtyards and verandas in innovative ways. We apply local material to a modern design approach," he says. "Our emphasis is on design innovation, inspired by technology, material use or the rich context of the site."

The "we" and "our" refer to the small team that makes up his boutique architectural firm, Khosla Associates. It includes Amaresh Anand, idea developer and Tania, Sandeep's wife and graphics designer. There is a quiet elegance to their home on Richmond Road. With its no-fuss ambience and minimalist attitude to furnishings, it is simple and very liveable.

Most creative people are inspired as much from within as from outside. Khosla picks "Asian architect Charles Correa, with whom I worked with as an associate architect, and Geoffrey Bawa have had some influence on our architectural work. Our interior work is largely inspired by travelling around the world, absorbing new design ideas, cultures, global trends." New ideas like minimalism, for example. It means the paring down of anything to its most fundamental features that is reducing of structural and decorative elements to the minimum. Sandeep is described as a minimalist, but he doesn't follow fads.

Artistic, yet minimal

An artist with integrity, he evaluates concepts and uses them intelligently. "Minimalism has unfortunately become a fad and designers want to be minimal whether or not the project demands it. However, a recent shift has found more designers gravitating towards decorative elements and juxtaposing these effectively using an uncluttered approach. Stark minimalism for the sake of it is not appropriate in India, because it is a vibrant, colourful and chaotic country with extreme contrasts. Our design should reflect this friction."

Khosla's a design concept that is paying rich dividends. His firm has won many prestigious awards from leading design institutes/publications, and his work has been featured in several international design publications (like Interiors, USA, and Wallpaper) and books.

Sandeep Khosla is among the most successful architects of the country.

Sandeep is understandably excited about his just-completed and forthcoming projects. The former includes the Fernandes residence, the M and W salon at the Leela Palace Hotel, retail spaces for Manoviraj Khosla, besides the new look given to KFC and Pizza Hut at the Forum Mall, and design for the travelling exhibition, Global Local for the British Council.

The forthcoming ones include more homes in Bangalore, spa and terrace grill at Royal Orchid Hotel, office for Modi Enterprises in Delhi, renovation of a section of heritage hotel Galle Face in Colombo, and restoration of a heritage police station for Bangalore Agenda Task Force.

And he's just been invited by the British Council and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) to London, for making a presentation of his work this month-end.


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