Modern classics: MAZDA Designs


December 9, 2013

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Everything in the world is designed. Some consciously, but much of it unconsciously. If design helps and enhances the use and purpose of the object or being, therein lies its success. In day-to-day life, design is a very conscious action. In the words of the legendary American Modernist Paul Rand, “Everything is design. Everything!”

By Julie Sam | Deccan Chronicle

Among the works I really admire is Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd. Nestled into a rock ledge, the house feels as if it was always there, a part of the waterfall over which it cantilevers. The surrounding rock acts as a bulwark for the concrete slabs that fly out from it. The built form assimilates into the natural foliage without trying to camouflage itself. Every single space inside was designed for each individual user. This was also the era of the architect being the master designer. Fabrics, stained glass window panels, wall hangings and every other minutiae have been detailed and designed to create a singular design statement.


Closer home, I think Charles Correa has done some incredible work including one of my all-time favourites for a residential building in the urban space — Kanchenjunga — which is located in South Mumbai. The interlocking of architectural variations optimise the complex spatial organisation inside, while creating a modernist masterpiece that imitates sculpture on the outside.

Through the work at my studio (Mazda Design), we try to educate clients to become design connoisseurs. A well-informed client allows for the best design freedom. We seek a careful balance of opposing and complementary styles to bring about an eclectic yet sophisticated look. No element is too small to design. It’s the parts that make up the whole.

The redesigning and renovation of the 150-year-old Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski in Munich, Germany, which I took on as project designer with Pierre Court Design, New York, is something that’s very special to me.

Since January 2007, we fully re-designed and renovated 41 deluxe rooms and suites, and 188 standard rooms in the historically conserved part of the building. The design ideology followed is along contemporary modern lines, with classical elements that respect and pay homage to the hotel’s rich history. The premier Ludwig II suites are the poster child of the redesign. The suites — 300 sq.m. of opulence — represent the finest example of classical design furnished in a contemporary style. A crossover between Louis XV pieces and modern designer furniture leads to an exciting mix of elegant, modern and beautiful.

If there was one design project that I wish I could have been part of, it would be the renovation of the The Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, Mumbai, after the terrorist attacks of 2008. In a haste to bring the hotel back to full functionality, the original design was replicated and rebuilt. An opportunity was lost to push the design boundary. Keeping the overall design ethos, there was a big opening to introduce contemporary design elements in the classical setting. However, in restoring the hotel it its past replica, the final result was a cover-up of what had happened, instead of accepting it and evolving at all design levels.

Shirin Kumaana-Wadia has over the last decade risen to become associate principal at Pierre Court Design. She was the design lead on the renovation of the Hotel Vier Jahrszeiten Kempinski in Munich, Germany, for which project, her team won the Hospitality Design Award from the Bund Deutscher Architekten. She started her own studio, Mazda Design, in 2011.