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Co-founder of A Design Co, Gowri Adappa’s home in Chennai is a perfect reflection of her eclectic design sensibility
“When I was a kid, I remember joking with my parents that I want my home to be like this every time we entered a really well-designed home or restaurant,” recalls Gowri Adappa. Those latent instincts that allowed her to drop such strong opinions with all the conviction of a child prefaced the profession she chose to hone as an adult. The interior designer and architect is the co-founder of A Design Co along with Nikhith Ashok, which they set up in 2014. The young Chennai-based studio has quickly become a name identified with a well-articulated visual language, an openness to innovate and an approach that willingly bends to context, client and brief requirements. “I love designing spaces where you can’t pin down a particular style or theme. I enjoy revelling in the conflict and starting conversations about a space,” says Adappa.
Nothing could be a greater testimonial to that philosophy than her own house, a 1,000-square-foot apartment in a quiet neighbourhood by the Bay of Bengal. A long and narrow open-plan living room that flows into the dining area in a white-walled backdrop suitably lends itself to the disparate elements that stitch the place together—a soft-looking mid-century sofa, in white, in the company of a postmodern acrylic coffee table. It’s an incongruous pair but works well together, as does every other thoughtfully arranged element. Most importantly, it’s an aesthetic that expresses the lifestyle and diverse tastes of its occupants. “It was renovated to reflect our eclectic taste, with artefacts and collectables from my travels and heirloom pieces that have been passed on to us,” she states.
It’s a perfect recipe to add a touch of whimsy and get creative with interesting pieces. Which explains how the striking etagere, a family heirloom, doubles up as a bar created in a corner that’s crafted as a reading nook in front of a picture window.
This elegant combination of old-world objects framed within a soothing white canvas and warm wooden flooring continues with a certain choreographed precision through the house. The unusual curation of artworks, some by local artists, some collected on travels around the world, sculptural lights that look whimsically perfect where they are placed, a white dining table with a central chubby metallic leg—it’s a house that defies pigeon-holing. “That’s what makes it more interesting; to create these curatorial vignettes around my home, which is not by accident. It’s modern Indian living,” she asserts.
The studiedly artless arrangement offers an insight into the personalities of the people occupying the space, but it also shines a light on Adappa’s almost intuitive approach to design. And that’s seen in the smallest of details, including the selection of art that is seen throughout the house. “I pick up art with my gut, I don’t look at names. If a particular piece speaks to me it’s coming home with me. I enjoy curating different works and displaying them like it would in a gallery. They make your eye travel around the house.”
Embellishing this space are well-made artisan creations of local craftspeople, in the form of earthenware, sculptures, the bamboo light fittings, among other unexpected artefacts. Identifying and working with locally available skill is, in fact, central to A Design Co’s ethos. “This nod to Indian craftsmanship is a very important element in my design process. To celebrate these craftsmen and artisans and their incredible workmanship to continue to create beautiful finishes, fabrics and feature this in our projects. And this is something I prioritised with this home as well. India has amazing artisans and craftsmen and I try my best to celebrate them in the spaces I design.”
The bedrooms, though, as well-decorated as the bold art and collectables-filled living room, wear a quieter decor. They are simpler, more sanctuary-like in their aesthetic—unabashedly lowkey in their vibe. Comfort, though, is not relegated just to the bedroom; the reading nook overlooking a picture window is a peaceful corner but for Adappa, that tranquillity can be found anywhere in the space. “Come nightfall, I switch one of my little reading lights, light my candles, curl up on my couch with a cup of tea or wine, depending on how the day went.”
When you have a space whose every corner inspires that feeling of warmth and envelopes you in that kind of comfort is one that’s hitting all the right notes of what a interior home design should feel like—comfortable, and completely you.
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