Inside a home on Jumeirah Islands that received a wow-factor renovation by Designsmith
What makes a home have wow-factor? Perhaps, you’ll say it’s bold architecture that breaks rules à la Grand Designs? Or perhaps it’s a jaw dropping arrangement of statement furniture? For us, it’s a home that’s been crafted with purpose. Where the design is deliberate and one that has been thoughtfully crafted to serve the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Of course, it helps if the homeowners have enlisted the assistance of a team of experts with years of experience in doing just that.
“From our initial discussions we realised that the family are very socially active, they host guests quite a bit,” says Mihir Sanganee, Creative Director at Designsmith as we sit in his most recently finished project on Jumeirah Islands. “Everything had to open towards the vista, which is the lake,” says the young architect – who was recently nominated for Architect of the Year by Design Middle East. The living space has been sectioned with rustic iron sliding doors that when closed create intimate seating areas and open to reveal a large space for entertaining. “We kept the spaces segmented, yet visually connected,” says Mihir.
This understanding of the client’s needs is an integral part of the studio’s business model, which was established in 1988 by Mihir’s father. “We build relationships,” he says as he talks us through a typical design process with Designsmith. This family home remodel, which thanks to a global pandemic, spanned almost two years, was completely redesigned to serve the homeowners.
When long-term Dubai-residents Pushkar and Nishita Khurana bought the villa, they knew they wanted their new home to capture attention, whilst still being homely. Hand selecting several companies to turn her dream into reality, Nishita chose Designsmith for the overall design and Italian manufacturers FlorenStyle for the furniture kit out. After the homeowners purchased extra land outside of the villa’s boundaries, Designsmith reworked the floorplan, adding an additional bedroom by removing the double storied entrance hall and created more living space downstairs. “This is at the heart of what we do,” says Mihir. “We’re able to restructure layouts, planning the interiors so that they’re maximized and practical.” Due to the extension, an additional downstairs toilet was added to serve their many guests, and both powder rooms off the living space. These were further given large panels of backlit onyx to provide some serious eye-candy.
Though mostly open plan, the kitchen was deliberately tucked away, leading off from the formal dining area so that the staff can access it without it distracting from the main living room. Instead, it’s the bespoke bar that becomes the central feature and point of congregation within the large room. “Nishita didn’t want the bottles to be displayed,” the architect explains. The shutters slide open so that when the family are hosting there is a full bar, but when it’s closed it still works as a style feature. “We picked unique details that we appreciated from Italian brands and created a bar which not only is functional but also elegant.”
In fact, each item of furniture in the house shares the same sophisticated Italian finish. This is because Designsmith has carefully planned, designed, and had each piece made to fit the home. All the custom furniture is from FlorenStyle, a bespoke Italian furniture company which produces locally, an offshoot of the Designsmith brand.
“Nishita didn’t want a cluttered house, so we went for a minimal finish and used her brief with subtle touches of grey,” explains Mihir as he looks over the beautiful home he and his team have created. “If someone comes to us asking for a table, we will design it and then have it made so that it is completely bespoke and right for the space,” he adds. It’s in the synergy between initial design and completion that this heritage design company showcases their best work.
With a team of over 350 people and almost 70,000 square-feet factory space locally, it’s no wonder that Designsmith is a key player in the region. “The studio is rapidly growing,” says Mihir excitedly. “And we’re currently setting up our own experience centre, so our customers can see our level of finishes, explore samples and curate their own spaces.”
Adding another string to their bow, along with working directly with clients, the company use their fit-out team to support local interior designers turn their plans into reality. As a result of their multifaceted approach, Mihir and his fit-out team are making waves in the market and especially this community.
“We recently were highly commended for 2021 as Boutique Design Studio of the Year, and we’ve got six ongoing projects in Jumeirah Islands itself. I’m certain 2022 will be amazing for us,” Mihir concludes with a genuine smile. The architect’s passion for design is evident, in both his humble demeanour and his work. Being able to handle the entire process from initial layout design, to fit-out and bespoke furniture creation means that the possibilities for crafting a home with the wow-factor is something that comes instinctively to Designsmith.
The homeowners perspective
After Nishita and Pushkar Khurana purchased this five-bedroom house in July 2019, Nishita set about piecing together a team of experts who could help her to manifest their dream home. “Of course, I wanted it to be beautiful,” says the mum of two, who has a keen interest in interior design. “But I also wanted it to feel comfortable, so the process was about finding that balance.”
The couple, originally from Mumbai, have lived in Jumeirah Islands since 2006 but decided to snap up this property after it was listed lower than cost value. “Because we had got a good price, we had the budget to break it all down and create a blank slate,” Nishita explains.
The masterplan was devised to accommodate the family’s mutual love of hosting, “The idea was to create a space for our family & friends. The big bar was essential for us to be able to hang around,” shares Nishita. Enlisting the help of multiple experts who could each bring something unique to the project, the interior design savvy mum was careful in her selection process, “I chose Designsmith because I wanted bespoke design and I wanted unique curated furniture made instead of buying it because I wanted custom sizes and personalization,” she explains. “I liked that I could get the exact look and finish for the items and then could put them all together.”
With Designsmith’s help, Nishita created a living room to serve the family’s every day needs, one that doubles up as a scenic backdrop for hosting parties. “The space planning is amazing, we can close off the spaces – so if my son is hanging out with his friends he can do that without disturbing us and we want, we can also fit people comfortably in when it’s too hot to be outside. I’m actually hosting my first party since we moved in last month,” Nishita says excitedly, looking across her glamorous living room.