By Suchita S. 

Minimalism isn’t a lack of something, it’s simply the perfect amount of something.”

IMG_1442-2 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

A fairly interesting phrase in architecture, which has made quite the comeback – though some may argue it never really went anywhere – is late modernist design from the 70s. Think vast, open spaces, natural light pouring in, clean lines, barely any clutter, slick furniture, and an interplay of textures and natural elements to create depth {metaphorically and literally} in a space. I’ve been guilty of dismissing this aesthetic as bland, impersonal and boring. But over the past few years especially, I have taken quite a liking to this, bluntly put, ‘personality speaks louder than things’ way of design. There’s unspoken poetry in modesty… and even in décor, I feel it requires a certain level of contentment to remove the hodgepodge and stick to the basics, while making them your own. Strengthening my belief in keeping it simple, cutting the lard and dismissing an endless collection of things, is Varrun Motihar’s breathtaking condo in Gurgaon.

Set on the 16th floor in an apartment complex opposite the Golf Club, this interior and furniture designer’s home overlooks the millennium city and is a stark contrast to the chaos, concrete and commotion Gurgaon looks like from that height. He’s used hues of a neutral color palette – blanc and noir, shades of grey and brown, and just very clever variations of materials like stone, wood and glass. By mistake, we entered through the back entrance of his flat; the door of a storage room, or so it seemed, opened into zen – seriously. We walked around, getting acquainted with the space. The first thing one notices is the amount of natural light that flows into it – every nook of every room is lit up at 4 in the evening, and it all looks magnificent. “It took me about 9 months to finish my home; and the journey itself was fascinating. I think you have to boil it back to the essence of the idea you started with, and arrive at its defining aspect. The defining aspect of it very well may be the defining aspect of you at that time. If now I had to design my home, I’m sure it would be different from how I conceived it back then.”

IMG_1643 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

{Varrun Motihar, Director, MOVA1 Designs}

IMG_1470-1 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1475-1 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1495 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1500 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1517-3 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1539 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar{Above | Drawing room, dining room, and corridor}

The space may seem a little sparse at first, but in no way is it vacant. Set against such a muted palette, the artwork and handlooms, along with books and brassware and two family photographs, find a voice of their own. They’ve been sourced by his mum who’s a collector, and the works displayed elicit the theme of his home – a quiet confidence. Barring the duo of traditional art in his bedroom and the Pushpamala photographs in his work-room, most of the other art is subdued; drawings in charcoal on paper, vintage covers of records by Dylan and the Beatles, and others in reticent hues. What was his biggest challenge while doing his home? “Arriving at the right proportion of material usage was quite grueling. Modern design is about identifying a few materials and then using and reusing them in a disproportionate {yet considered} manner… Scaling up and scaling down of the materials to create a scheme that can be called almost intelligent.”

It is in details like the opaque and transparent panelled blinds, a stunning textured glass that separates the corridor and lobby from the sitting and dining area, the curves and lines in the furniture, deep granite coloured tiles that cover the facade of a wall offsetting a room with otherwise cream walls, and smart lighting, that his genius lies. Most of the furniture in his home has been designed by him. Other pieces were either imported or designed by associates from the industry, such as Laurent Rochon and Sotohaus. The blinds, which are such an interesting part of each room, have been sourced from Aerolux. And the flooring is a mix of Italian marble and Kahrs {German} engineered wood flooring. In the midst of all this linear construction and curation is an impeccable selection of rugs and soft furnishings that are family heirlooms and sourced from his aunt’s design firm called Encore Themes. There’s plenty natural light welcoming you in the day. But towards the evening, the play and intensity of lights can switch the mood from ambient, to party; quiet night in, to a dinner with close friends, in an instant. “If there’s a piece of advice I’d give to anyone designing a bachelor pad or any pad, it’s concentrate on your lighting scheme. Good lighting allows for as much darkness as it does for light, in a controlled manner of course. It’s the soul of the house, the most romantic part of it.”

IMG_1553 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar{Guest bedroom}

IMG_1570-2 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1575-2 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar{Lounge & TV Room }

IMG_1608 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

Chair The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar

IMG_1622 The Casa Diaries | Varrun Motihar{Master Bedroom}

Varrun’s personal journey to becoming an interior & furniture designer has been quite a rollercoaster; and things aligned over the past couple of years to make things happen. He graduated with a degree in International Relations, and has worked as a writer for a political journal, with a political lobbying firm, at a consultancy and as a banker. He then decided to drop the corporate world, and went on to pursue a Masters Diploma in Architectural Interior Design, and hasn’t looked back ever since. Apparently he cooks really well, and he reads a lot of poetry – his favourite T.S. Eliot being ‘The Waste Land’, though his favourite poem is by Dylan Thomas – ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’. There’s definitely a lot more to him than what his home lets you in on.

He tells us about the next plans for his home. “It’s like an unfinished story right now. The day I finish it to my liking will probably be the day I move out and begin all over again, elsewhere.”

Until then.

Photography Credits & Direction | Rushil Khokhar & Bani Chawla

Related Post:
The Casa Diaries | Seema Kohli

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