A Mumbai apartment that underlines the luxuries of minimalism

AD100 architect Sameep Padora strips the bones of a Mumbai apartment to design a uniquely pared down way of living in a high-rise
Mumbai Khar home
Originally a space for the powder bathroom, panels of fluted-wood shutters conceal a temple within a nine-foot triangle that separates the den from the living room

Over the years, AD100 architect Sameep Padora and his Mumbai-based firm sP+a have been known for their radical use of space and form across iconic structures such as the Balaji Temple in Nandyala, Maya Somaiya Library in Kopargaon, and restaurants such as The Clearing House, Khar Social, and Indigo Deli Palladium in Mumbai. It is unlikely, however, that one would associate his refined designs with an apartment in a glossy skyscraper for a young family of three.

For Rajdeepak Das—CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett, South Asia—and his wife, designer Resham Das, it was conversations over a mutual love for design with their longtime friend that eventually culminated in working together on their newly bought house. “It was a collaboration,” says Padora. “Raj and Resham are both creatively inclined, so theirs was more of an editorial role in ideating and questioning what a typical home should look like today.” While the couple and Padora shared a similar thought process, they toyed with ways to break and raise the conventional boundaries of a typical home.

“We didn’t want anyone to think they’re entering a home,” recalls Rajdeepak when explaining how the front door—which is almost as large as the entrance wall spanning eight feet across its length and breadth—does away with traditional house numbering on its façade. With a simple zigzag-lined font designed by his wife, the flat number spells out the rest of the home’s pared down muted aesthetic.

Spanning eight feet across its length and breadth, the main door with a COR-TEN-steel finish spells out the apartment’s number in a customized font designed by Resham

Exposed concrete on the walls, floor and ceiling—paired with wood, stone and glass—create a monochrome palette in every room, paying homage to architects John Pawson and Tom Kundig’s minimalism. Heavily inspired by their works, the couple and Padora sought to rethink the format of living spaces based on what one actually needs when spending time in it. “The living room was designed to be warm and inviting to bring together friends, whom the couple regularly hosts, yet there are no couches here,” Padora says.

In its place, a 10-foot-long black granite table allows for larger gatherings, while its humbler two-and-a-half foot width brings everyone closer for more intimate conversations. In an unusual move, the table is, instead, surrounded by armchairs, low benches and lounge chairs to play around for comfort. On one end lies the balcony that overlooks the Arabian Sea, and offers breathtaking views of the sunset.

A departure from conventional living room design, the 10-foot granite dining table with a gritty river finish is surrounded by armchairs, low benches and lounge chairs to play around with for comfort

Clad in steel from floor to ceiling, the kitchen opens up into the den with its oversized glass door (in place of a wall) pivoting open

While the idea of living minimally seems liberating, one would question just how functional and liveable a space like this is. Resham points out how one wouldn’t feel the need for excesses when they don’t have the space for it. “If I only have storage for 10 shoes, I’m not going to hoard more than that. If you create a home for the life you want to lead, you’ll instinctively find yourself adapting to it.” She did, however, take into consideration how a room like the kitchen would require more easy-to-reach storage for making it practical to use everyday. Her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom too has ample storage space for all her belongings, tucked behind clever panelling.

In the main bedroom, the brutalism of the exposed concrete walls and ceiling are softened with the warmth of an engineered oakwood floor. The rest of the room’s interiors have been kept minimal to make the space look more open

At the centre of the daughter’s bedroom is a contemporary version of a four-poster bed covered in white drapes. Teal linens and whimsical accessories bring in a playful charm against the rest of the room’s austere wood and concrete finishes

The original floor plan had a powder bathroom, which was transformed into a hidden temple that is enveloped within a nine-foot-tall triangle made of fluted-wood shutters. The third bedroom in the house has been designed as a den, which doubles as a guest room. At first glance, you wouldn’t notice the Murphy bed concealed behind the wood-slatted wall. An oversized glass door (in place of a wall) pivots open to bring all the living spaces together as one.

Doubling as a guest room, a Murphy bed stays tucked away behind a fluted-wood wall in the den

Walking through this thoughtfully planned home, its unusual details and wabi-sabi corners tell a quieter story of how the couple’s love for design has evolved through their work and time together. For Rajdeepak and Resham, it’s also about passing this down to their daughter through their home. “We’re both designers, so we would like her to have a strong benchmark for what good design is. Over the past year of living here, I’ve started to notice changes in how she perceives design—from what she draws to how she dresses,” says Resham, excitedly, with Raj adding in bafflement, “Although now she comes up to us and talks about architects and designers we’ve never heard of!”