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Travel

Ministry of New

By | Architecture and Interior, Travel | No Comments

“We are located in a Blue building. Opposite Haldiram’s shop” said the voice at the other end of the phone

I am on my way to Fort area in Mumbai, a short distance from the iconic Victoria Terminus Station, to visit this very interesting co-working space called Ministry Of New

“Ministry of New is a design inspired collaborative workspace for independent professionals looking to be a part of an international creative community”. (from MON’s website)
I bumped into the Ministry of New FB page (virtually off course), while researching on some design based topic.
I was intrigued. I wanted to explore this spatial concept.
So last year in Nov 2016, I emailed Marlies and Natascha(Founders) and explained who I was and how I was very keen to meet them and see this beautiful space they have created.
I got a positive response immediately.
On my recent trip to India, I got the opportunity to visit this beautiful and inspiring space.
And here I am standing opposite this truly beautiful period architecture.

As I enter the building, the ground floor is pretty basic. But as I start climbing the stairs- now here is where the magic begins

         

Wooden stairs- the worn steps tell a story of their own.

I chose not to take the lift. Something spectacular caught my eye. The rustic wooden stairs. I could only imagine the age of these stairs by the well worn steps as they swooped gently upwards. The wood work is so well crafted and still being tested with regular beat of footsteps, that I could kiss the hands of the craftsmen who made these years and years ago.

Curious to see what the underside of these stairs looked like, I climbed right up and what a sight!
The underside is covered with wood panels gently taking the curve along the structure of the building. Very sculptural!
At this point I know I am going to love Ministry of New even more.

           

On second floor- stepping onto a checkered black and white floor,I walked towards the main door.

There, at the reception…I didn’t know whether to stare at the reception desk which was interestingly enveloped in open books, or to gape at the light filtering through the atrium like space.

Main reception with its eye catching desk.

Sunlight was streaming through the windows and skylights, bathing the space in a happy, warm glow.What a visual delight! I was in heaven! Surrounding the atrium, running along the length of the space were corridors backed by rooms of all shapes and sizes. At one end was a space to hold conferences, workshops, photoshoots etc.

       

Potted plants hung everywhere, Christmas was just round the corner and the place was decorated with charming Christmas buntings. Tables and chairs were kept around the corridors running along the length of the rooms. You can sit inside your space or outside.

        

I was greeted by Owais (the voice on the phone-remember!)
We started chatting. I had missed Marlies by a few minutes (oh no!).
He explained a bit about the space and how it caters to people from varying industries.
This is getting better. I was under the impression that Ministry of New was mainly for the design industry. But no. There is no restriction to who can rent these spaces. I saw a musician immersed in his work, a conference by a well known telecom company in full swing. Little Black Book (Mumbai), a blog in India has one space, and opposite end belongs to the designer Pavitra Rajaram Designs. Each room has a name, like an identity of its own.

        

There are desk spaces to rent or rooms of various sizes. A cafe at one end serves mouth watering dishes throughout the day and has a rather engaging interior with wall painted in subliminal, mood lifting artworks.

        

Above: Desk spaces for hire in an open, light, well designed space.
Below: Chai/ refreshment area.

         I was informed that the founders have been involved in designing and creating the interior of the space. I could see that most of the original structure of the building had either been restored or kept intact. The interior accessories is mostly in black and white, as if to let the majestic architecture do the talking.        

Above: pleasing decor of the Cafe. Closeup of the wall painting

All along, the space is a well considered amalgamation of old school charm mixed with modern aesthetics.
I believe its rather tricky to marry an old architecture with contemporary/modern interiors and objects, without erasing the past life of the building. But if you get it right- the results are stunning.
Ministry of New has achieved that.       
Tall shuttered doors are painted with pale colors to accentuate their heights. Everything works in sync with each other. It is calm, restful and inspiring. A big change from traditional offices.
There is a casual formality to the space. Who would have thought that in a bustling, crazy busy, colourful city like Mumbai, a subliminal oasis of work space could co-exist.


I, for one, am blown away by this space.
I wouldn’t blame them, if people hardly go home to their families.
I found it difficult to leave the space. If not for another meeting, I would have been found lounging in this elegant space.
Must visit for anyone going to Mumbai.

Vallari

 

Patwon Ki Haveli

By | Architecture and Interior, Travel | 2 Comments

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As our vehicle crossed the borders of Gujarat and went deeper into Rajasthan, the landscape changed to unobstructed views resplendent with sand dunes and tiny thorny shrubs and bushes. Some how the pale winter sun made everything shimmer and it hardly felt like we were in the desert district of Rajasthan: Jaiselmer. Ethereal experience.

So this blog post is about a recent visit to Rajasthan, a land so associated with colour, warmth, tourism and food that it was odd to see this quiet peaceful but pale stretch of land with hardly any traces of civilisation around. Unlike what you must be thinking, this post is not about the well known Jaiselmer fort. Oh no no . Its about a not so secret gem of a building : Patwon ki Haveli

20151225_140334(0)                                                                                                One of the five Patwon ki haveli

Haveli is a hindi word for mansions. Now, I must confess, before my travel to Jaiselmer, I had never heard of this place.

A brief history: legend has it that the patwas were immensely successful after leaving Jaiselmer (on the advise of a priest) and their business spanned across banking & finance, silver, brocade and opium trade.

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Eventually, patwas rose to such heights that they were called upon to finance the state deficit. This brought the clan back to their old habitat. The then head of the family, Ghuman Chand Patwa, decided to gift each of his five sons a separate and elaborate mansion, ignoring the advice of the priest. Thus came up the five grandiose havelis facing the Jailsamer Fort. (source: http://patwahaveli.com)

20151225_123922                                                                             View of the busy street from one of the haveli windows

Unlike a typical mansion in India, Patwon ki haveli is devoid of any gardens (for obvious reasons!!) or rich iron gates with massive pillars. It stands looming large, slap bang in the middle of a busy busy street, quietly waiting for the onslaught of awestruck tourists and art and craft lovers like yours truly.The facade seems to have faded through years of erosion, but once you cross the gate, its difficult to close your mouth hanging open in total wonderment of the intricately carved exterior.

                                        20151225_134329   20151225_124616
                                              Intricately carved stone exterior. Floral Geometry achieved through supreme craftsmanship!

Believe me when I say, I have yet to see the likes of it. The gold hues of the stone used in constructing the building adds to the opulent elegance of the architecture.

20151225_134250                                                             The quintessential picture which has to be taken in traditional finery

It is fascinating to observe that the interior, while still being opulent, is fairly staid, to balance the exterior. Furniture, fixtures and even cooking vessels and tableware (aha now we are talking!) are painstakingly preserved to give us a glimpse of the Patwa family’s lifestyle   You get sucked into the their daily lives and are transported to times gone by.

                                 IMG_4702    IMG_4704                                                                              a child’s tricycle stored neatly in an alcove & dainty  sewing machine

 

IMG_4709                                                                                 wooden jewellery boxes with metal embellishment

So feast your eyes on this visual delight from Patwon ki haveli and make sure the next time you decide to travel to Jaiselmer, do give this beauty a shout.

20151225_123701                                                                        Never miss a photo op while selling colourful puppets.

Enjoy and don’t forget to share any snippets you may have about Patwon ki haveli.

Photography: Chinmay Bhardwaj, Vallari Harshwal