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  • The double height of the reception can be fully enjoyed from the L-shaped visitors’ waiting area. The punctured orange wall intensifies the feeling of space and gives a partial view of the mezzanine floor. Note the colours on the conference door, which are in sync with the angular wall.

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  • An endearing replica of three marching ants crowns the ledge of the conference room. Combined with the orange of the angular wall, it subtly communicates the firm’s name.

  • MARCHING

    Ants. their portfolio of work is definitely exemplary. They provide creative solution to both the

    corporate sector

    and the Indian film industry. While their corporate clients include the star TV bouquet of channels, UDV and Ishnaa jewellers; Ram Gopal Varma ,Farhan Akhtar, Subhash Ghai, Pooja Bhatt and Sanjay Gupta constittute some of their film-based clients. But how different would their workspace be? Would it be just another advertising firm dressed in "different" elements which have now sadly become somewhat of a cliché(pool tables, basketball hoops, cars in cafeteria and commodes as chairs lost their wow-power a long time ago) or would it be as unique as their line of work? This thought wriggled in my mind until the day of the site visit, and after a walk through the 1200-square-foot workshop, my fix was fixed.



    WORKSTATION
    The “different” in this space doesn’t come by way of mere superficial accoutrements, but through more “structural” aspects. Sit down with young architect couple Pooja and Arbaysis Ashley who have designed this space, and you marvel at the though processes that have spawned this wonder. “ This was an open 700 square-foot area with no columns and a small bathroom attached to it.” Says the couple. “ The requirements from the owners of Marching Ants,Rajeev Chudasama (director and creative head) and Joy Ghosahal (director and a marketing head) was to accommodate a staff strength of 35 and create three cabins, a conference , a small pantry and a reception. They wanted their two departments – corporate (creative and servicing) and films (creative and servicing)—to sit separately.

    In terms of design, they wanted a contemporary space. Now we were not sure whether the clients and we had an identical image contemporary in mind; it’s a very mixed design term . But once we sat across the table, all doubts were dispelled. They never questioned our design nor were they finicky about things. Their faith in us is what made this office ,” explain the architects.
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  • The reception as seen from the conference area. Publicity posters of forthcoming movies like Vasushastra and kisna don the reception of the creative office that gave them birth. ‘Old’ creative work is showcased by way of framed collages.

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  • Done in orange and yellow hues, the storage in the conference area is more like a canvas of contemporary art.

  • Allocation of space was the first thing that the architects looked into. As accommodating 35 people in 700 sq.ft. was functionally impossible, a six-foot- high mezzanine was added to the office. To maintain the double-height at the reception, the mezzanine was pushed to one side. To Intensify the spacious look, a 13-foot-tall angular wall with a puncture at the top was created as a back drop to the solid wood reception table. This creates a much needed visual depth (one can see the staircase through the puncture) and, at the same time, restricts the eye to the reception and the conference next to it. Rather than having a typical behind-the –reception placement for the company logo, the architects took two essential elements from the Marching Ants logotype – the orange colour and the image of three ants walking in a file -- and created a clever juxtaposition that would subtly speak of the company name: they placed three enormous fiber models of ants on a ledge above the conference room and painted the backdrop of the reception a vivid orange . “The facts that people who come here know Marching Ants and their work well, helped.” adds Pooja. This ‘familiarity factor’ was also why the architects decided to design the entrance door – a portal cleverly camouflaged within an innocent looking large wooden panel – such that it would filter unwanted traffic.

    Accompanied by red and yellow, the orange of the reception backdrop trickles into the conference room. Barring these bright hues, the décor of this room is pretty understated. White walls, a block – like dark brown-veneered: table and black chairs. Thus, the focus stays firmly on a large square canvas created on the end wall. “Actually, this is a storage space for albums of their forthcoming works,” smiles Arbaysis, “ We didn’t want it to look bulky, so we made a cupboard with four sliding doors and painted them yellow and orange to make the ensemble look like a contemporary canvas.” To add more drama, this ‘canvas’ was backlit at the edge and given a dry landscaping of stones.

    Rajeev’s cabin is truly the best-dressed apace in the office. The architects quote Rajeev’s brief for his cabin: “I am the creative head. I have orange –dyed hair,
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  • An aerial view of the workstation created behind the angular wall through the cables of the staircase.

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  • The cantilevered staircase is enhanced by an orange wall and dry landscape.

  • I sometime wear red paints to my meeting and I change my look every three months. So it is up to you to project what I am through my Cabin.” So what did they do to give Rajeev’s character to his space? We tried all different things, “say Pooja and Arbaysis in unison. The Mood of the cabin is somber, enhanced further y the dark brown veneered table and library. In one corner lies a voluptuous red couch, against a wall striped in red, yellow and orange. The cabin gets its character through mood lighting: wall washers, spotlights and even the small built in light box that’s actually there for inspecting transparencies. The yellow epoxy paint on the flooring climbs one wall of the cabin to “create a monolithic feel. We did a lot of research and finally closed in an epoxy paint, which is actually a highly durable industrial product. Usually, this paint is applied with rollers, but we’ve used a trowel to get that uneven feel,” says Pooja.

    Next to it is Joys’ realm, a perfect antithesis to Rajeev’s cabin. “ Joy had specified that he needed a semi formal cabin as he would entertain corporate clients like star. The only thing he really wanted a black couch and a fish tank,” say the architects. So Joy’s Cabin dons as off-white POP handmade Finish complemented by off-white epoxy paint on the floor. The L-shaped black couch makes for comfortable seating, while a fish tank is “flushed” to the end wall of the cabin Joy’s working table is L-shaped with a 19mm- thick frosted-glass top. One leg of the built in table has been fashioned into a CD-holder.

    The library, again, is a 19 mm-thick shelf chased into the wall.
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  • Rajeev’s private space speaks volumes about the character of its occupant. The secretive air conjured by mood lighting and sombre furniture is intensified by the voluptuous red sofa. The other prominent element is the striped backdrop of the sofa. At times, the custom designed stools acts as centre tables.

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  • The wavy POP handmade texture on the walls of joy’s cabin complement the water element of the fish tank. A plush black couch sits next to the working table made of frosted one- piece glass resting on a CD rack and, at the other end, a storage cabinet.

  • This long seamless wall which cordons off the cabins and the workstation from the reception is, in fact, the receiver of an important design process. When were thinking about ways of partitioning the space, conventional methods like wooden panels and gypsum boards didn’t appeal to us. Then we decided to make a wall with lightweight blocks. Then again, we didn’t want to plaster the blocks as this would take away their character.” Normally, while creating a wall out of lightweight blocks, the are stacked on each other with cement mortar in between and then plastered from the sides. But Pooja and Arbaysis were ambitions: they wanted a seamless wall without any visible separation between two blocks. “ It looked like an impossible dream and we spent sleepless nights after consulting technical people. They said we were crazy to experiment with such a thing, but we were hell-bent on doing it,” say the determined duo. So what did they finally do? We welded a base plate inside the flooring and then welded torque steel reinforcement bars on it. These bars were then beaded with the blocks – which were fixed’ with spot-binding chemicals. Cement slurry mixed with chemicals was filled into the holes. This formed the backbone of the wall. It took us 15 days to complete a wall, but it was worth it,” comes a satisfied explanation.

    The 18-foot-long and 13 foot-tall wall spans Rajeev and Joy’s cabins, and the domain of the corporate creative guys. The Corporate servicing people, a small group, are placed near the staircase that leads to the mezzanine. This cantilevered staircase was treated as a “piece of art” with a dry landscape and decorative cables. Yellow epoxy paint on the stairs blends perfectly with the décor of the reception . To enhance the look, every step of this wooden staircase has been lit from below, throwing rays of light on the floor.

    The Creative and servicing department for films are stationed on the mezzanine. Administrator Roma Chudasama’s cabin, which is also placed here, sees yellow ochre and red walls with white epoxy paint on the floor. To Complement the latter a white cushion forms the seating on light brown-veneered furniture. A side table with an in-built light-box creates the mood in this room. Despite the fact that all three cabins reflect the personality of their respective occupant, the entire office has been held together by an underlying Mediterranean theme and contemporary furniture.
  • office interior design
  • The brightness of yellow ochre and red walls of Roma’s cabin is tempered by the light colour of the furniture. The light box side table creates a certain drama in the space.

  • As the height of the mezzanine did not leave enough room for ceiling lights, they were incorporated along walls and behind the storage for workstations. Sleeks and small, imported T5 lights were used such that they didn’t cause distracting glares on computer monitors.

    Storage was matter of constant discussion between the architects and their clients. All furniture was fabricated on site and has ample storage: from Rajeev’s red couch to the visitors ‘ seating area near the reception. But what the clients and the staff freaked out on was the idea that the architects came up with to store personal belongings of the staff. What happens when we sit and work on the computer is that there is a lot of extra space available for the legs. We have utilized that extra leg space to create storage for personal belongings. This way, the actual storage above their workshop is effectively utilized as ‘company’ storage.” Says Arbaysis.

    Small things like these which make a big difference to working conditions has made Rajeev and Joy very pleased with their architects: Being a young creative house, we wanted to achieve a look of thorough professionalism and, at the same time, one that gave a feeling of a relaxed lounge bar. Not only did Pooja and Arbaysis meet the brief, they delivered an office beyond expectations. Beside their keen eye for detail, you’ve got to give them full marks for time management and cost control. We strongly believe that works speaks volumes about oneself, and you should see how many times we’ve had to forward their number to our clients.” So if any of you are interested in getting in touch with this talented twosome, be warned, you may be the last in a long queue!

    Text : Deepa Nair
    Photographs: Sebastian Zachariah

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