Housed in a 150-year-old building, Lekha Washington’s charming studio, Ajji, is tucked away in the quaint Ranwar village of Mumbai’s Bandra suburb. The renovation, which began three years ago, was recently completed in association with Asian Paints. The soft-spoken artiste, who juggles many hats including that of an actor, sculptor and product designer, describes the vibe of the space as relaxed.
“I find some design spaces to be forbidding and pretentious, and I’d like for my studio’s vibe to be laid-back. I’d also like it to be exciting, or moving in a way, for it to spark off something in the people interacting with the space,” says Washington, who recently added ‘lyricist’ to her dossier. The 29-year-old wrote the lyrics for two songs in the Vishal Bhardwaj-directed war-romance, Rangoon .
In the studio, Washington’s famous Dot chair adorns one wall, while a large slug-shaped fabric — which is synced to one’s breathing and has a bed underneath it — is on another. Her other products and installations span out across the area. Washington admits that she moved into the studio four years ago because her products are rather large and she wanted to think in scale.
The studio attracts a variety of creative people — poets, writers or anyone interested in open discussions. Washington says that even though Ajji houses only her work currently, and is the office she operates out of, she enjoys dialogue and wants to create a space for it.
“Ranwar village is a melting pot. We have interesting people in the neighbourhood and conversations always lead to things,” says the Chennai-born actress, stressing that the space is not just commercial, but open to artists for creative use.
Speaking about how design is integrated into everything, the product designer says people don’t associate design with a pair of scissors or a fork, but it is in everything that we do. “The more well thought out an object or form, the more seamless it is,” observes Washington, who recently did a large-scale installation for the Kiran Nadar museum and is in the process of putting together another light installation for them. “The only thing I’m missing now is performance. I have something in mind, but it’s too soon to talk about it,” she concludes.
French designer, Philippe Starck, created the Miss Paramount chair for the Paramount hotel in New York, in 1987. Made of painted wood and upholstery, the piece (starck.com/en) is dramatic yet simple at the same time.
Designed by Sandeep Sangaru, of Bengaluru-based Sangaru Design Studio, the Yak sofa is part of the award-winning Truss-Me collection. Handcrafted by craftsmen in Tripura, Washington feels the design takes bamboo to the next level. ₹53,000, on shop.gaatha.com
Charles and Ray Eames designed the chair for a competition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1948. Comprising two bonded fibreglass shells, a chromed base, and natural oak feet, it is inspired by Gaston Lachaise’s Floating Figure sculpture. ₹7,53,545 (approx), on vitra.com
Designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929, the Barcelona Chair is ubiquitous for a reason, says Washington. A marriage of leather and stainless steel, this icon of the modern movement epitomises Rohe’s maxim, “less is more.” ₹3,73,349 (approx), on knoll.com