This cosy office is home to MuseLAB’s studio where light plays an important role
They say, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but the arresting perforated frontage of MuseLAB’s studio makes a case for just the opposite. It creates the perfect first impression and indication of what the practice is about. “Our studio is process driven and our approach contextual. The façade gave us the opportunity to showcase and build our identity. With the explorations of the various openings in the facade we were able to regulate the ambient light that filters into the space and sets the tone within,” explains co-founder Huzefa Rangwala.
With a common love for food, humour and design, post a life-changing trip to Mexico, he and co-founder Jasem Pirani, started MuseLAB in 2012. A few years later they found a home for their small practice at this 320 square-foot space in Prabhadevi, right in the heart of the city with the seafront just a stone’s throw away.
“Being on the ground floor gave us an opportunity to design a storefront which is a conversation starter. What we love the most about our tiny studio is that it is an explosion of experiences right from the mini double-height atrium to the staircase that leads to the loft,” he beams. So, we sat down with the duo in this beautiful space to find out more about them and their unique style.
Beautiful Homes: What is your design philosophy?
Huzefa Rangwala: Simple – listen, learn and narrate. We are sensitive to the context and create opportunities for self-styled storytelling. This gets integrated with the design process with a focus on making experiences that are transformative. What has been evolving is our approach to materials - we are trying to make a conscious effort to stay as true to the material as possible.
Jasem Pirani: The project brief is also our guiding principle; it is our source of motivation. We use both intuitive and traditional methods of analysis to identify the tangible and the intangible. The emerging patterns help us tell the story.
BH: How does your studio represent your style?
JP: The attention to detail within the space reflects our design philosophy. From the simple yet compact material and books library that doubles up as the railing for the mezzanine to the file storage slots at the back of each workstation; all these gestures reflect our thought process.
BH: What did you have in mind while designing the space?
HR: Being a young practice, we opted to rent a space. Our focus was on identity and flexibility. We achieved an identity for our brand with the award-winning laser cut metal screen. All the furniture in the office is movable and can be easily disassembled, giving us the flexibility to relocate to another space with ease.
JP: In an intimate set up as ours, an open, more accessible environment is nurturing as that allows for dialogue, learning and sharing, which is essential.
BH: Tell us about the striking perforated façade.
JP: Light plays an important role; the façade is the mediator and choreographs the movement. Since we are located on the ground floor of an industrial estate there were a few safety concerns to consider. This was resolved by replacing the traditional jali with MS panels. The sheets were perforated with openings of varying types – punched, hinged and pivoted. Strategically placed, they filter in the afternoon sun and create a fascinating play of light and shadow within. It also creates an ever-changing visual performance through the day, changing with the seasons. The perforated jali was the perfect answer to cutting glare, providing privacy, as well as restraining natural light in the space.
BH: What is your favourite corner or feature in the studio?
HR: By the entrance and stairway, where the reflected light and shadow patterns play out through the day.
JP: It is tough to pick a favourite corner but yes, the play of light and shadow through the space and the choice of materials. The contrast of the Burma teak wooden legs with the birch ply tabletops is stimulating.
BH: What are your must-haves in your personal workspace?
HR: My desktop, keyboard, mouse sans mouse pad, Bjarke Ingels’ ghost, some pencils, a doodle book, a cup of tea on a MuseMART bespoke Deception series coaster and a miniature paperweight of the Sagrada Familia. I'm not kidding about the ghost!
JP: My desktop, a book on materials for design, foreign office architects' book Phylogenesis which has been my bible since college days, a globe series notebook from Rubberband, plenty of knick-knacks collected over travels and my pretentious cup of green tea.