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Finding a ground-floor office space in Bandra can quite literally feel like searching for that elusive diamond in the rough. The neighbourhood’s charming old homes are routinely converted into hip coffee shops, specialty boutiques and art galleries. In the case of Quirk Studio’s founders Disha Bhavsar and Shivani Ajmera, fourth time was a charm. Their post-lockdown office is a daydreamer’s delight with windows that open up to a secret garden, a sunroom for coffee breaks and a neon sign welcoming you into their private “La La Land”. We had a chance to speak to Disha about the renovation of the interior design firm’s new studio design. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Beautiful Homes: Take us through the beginnings of Quirk Studio.
Disha Bhavsar: Shivani and I met when we were both working at Elle Décor. We’ve both studied interior design in Italy and the UK respectively. We founded Quirk Studio in 2013, we are an eight-year-old practice specialising in residential and commercial spaces. When we first started, we used to work off of my dining table at home, then we graduated to a small garage space in Bandra and then finally when we were bursting at the seams, we decided that it was time to upgrade to a larger space.
BH: What attracted you to this space and location?
DB: This is our fourth office and we started our hunt for it just before Covid-19 hit. We have a broker who understands our style and he knows we’re interested in quaint buildings tucked in the little, leafy bylanes of Bandra. He would never show us an office space in a glass building. When everyone started to work from home, a lot of spaces became available suddenly and that’s when we got lucky. This space was last used as a studio by a wedding planner but it is originally a ground-floor residential flat.
Unfortunately we got this space ready just before the second lockdown hit and I can't tell you how excited we were to come back the moment things opened up. It’s very hard to replace a collaborative office environment.
BH: Did you face any challenges during the office renovation?
DB: The challenges with any space we design are usually related to budget and timelines. We had just about 20-to-25 days to do a quick renovation. Just as with any project, our starting point is always what we inherit from the space—the architecture of space, the height, the natural light that seeps in and in this case, the lovely reclaimed wood doors which we managed to salvage. Our biggest challenge was to strip these doors and the windows down since they had been painted white. Overall, we’ve tried to not touch too many things, we’ve just restored it to retain its old world charm. We’ve even kept the nameplate of the owner.
It’s un-office like structure is the biggest highlight. It was imperative that we not only design an office that accommodates the everyday functionalities but also transports us into another world.
BH: Do you have a favourite corner in the new studio?
DB: We love our small garden outside which is very rare luxury in Bombay. As you come in, we have an amazing sunroom and my favourite part definitely has to be the comfortable daybed right by the window. It’s great for brain storming, sometimes even for casual client meetings. We usually have music playing here, there's always coffee and so much room for conversations. There’s also a desk where you feel inspired by just sitting and looking out of the window. Our team is always fighting over this top spot.
BH: What brings the quirk in the new Quirk Studio office?
DB: As you enter the office space, we have a large open desk workstation for our entire team and here the highlight is a neon “La La Land” sign by our friends at Amar Signs and it defines what we like the space to be—our own little dream bubble. We’ve also brought in some fun and colourful pieces of art by budding artists through Art&Found. They brighten up what is otherwise a very bare and minimal space. The office is also playful because of all the interconnecting doors. We have three doors just to our private cabin which makes it all so much fun.
As we spend more time in the space, I feel that we will keep adding layers because that’s the beauty of the space and it has the potential to keep evolving with time.
BH: What’s it like to share a cabin with your partner?
DB: Luckily, Shivani and I both like our workstation to be clutter-free. We both have separate drawers for our stationery and we’re so sharp that we would know if someone has been rummaging through our stuff. We have an emotional connection with our work desk that’s travelled with us right from our very first office. This table is always clean and we only have one large tray to hold some of our shared stationery and our coffee mugs. We have a beautiful B.V. Doshi print in our office from Vadhera Art Gallery and we also try to have fresh flowers for our cabin.
BH: Finally, how would you envision a dream project?
DB: Our dream project would be a beautiful villa or a home tucked in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lush greenery and overlooking a serene lake or waterbody. We would love to use as many sustainable materials as possible and create a space that highlights made-in-India products, celebrate Indian artisans and their craft.
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