An Essentialist Approach

Kalpak Shah


Studio Course’s latest design for an office space applies the philosophy of building lasting spaces that are functional and minimal yet beautiful. The architecture firm has created an understated design that relies on its materials and layout rather than on disrupting embellishments.

Kalpak Shah, the principal architect of Studio Course, says, “The client approached us by looking at our work in a magazine. They liked the contemporary design and use of wood in our other project.” The brief was uncomplicated – a sophisticated design with plenty of storage space for books and folders. The rest was open to experimentation.

“Our studio philosophy is to avoid false ceilings and use a natural palette. So, rather than concealing the RCC columns, we decided to flaunt them,” explains Shah. He implemented this by painting the columns grey, which rendered a calm balance to the rest of the interiors which were dominated by wooden textures. 

Shah refers to this approach of adding only as much as necessary as “Indian minimalism”. He explains, “We retained most of the existing structure, and just painted or textured them differently. We also kept the space functional, ensuring that the warmth of Indian architecture in buildings continues to exist even as we remodel.” The design team also increased the size of the windows and exploited natural lighting and cross ventilation to create an airy set-up at a lower budget. 

“While the open work spaces are fan-shaped, the conference rooms and cabins have been outlined using glass partitions bordered with black aluminium. These partitions not only help block the noise outside, but also add to the visual connect between areas,” says Shah.

Creating better visual transparency was a key objective for the design team. To achieve this, they decided to break down the many walls running between the rooms. The idea was to allow employees to see each other from their work spaces, establishing a natural sense of camaraderie. 
An interesting requirement from the client was to have a mix of closed and open storage spaces – closed for the files and folders often arranged haphazardly and open shelves for the voluminous law books. “This was a challenge because we wanted to come up with something that addresses the requirement, yet is not too heavy on the eyes,” admits Shah. Eventually, the shelves’ sleek form turned out as one of the key attractive points of the cabin.

A law firm is meant to be a symbol of erudition. With its non-extravagant approach, Studio Course achieved this, by conceiving an office space that exudes confidence and trust, a space that becomes a platform for forging business relationships with a straightforward, no nonsense approach.