There sat Mr. Khanna across my office table, lost in deep thought, staring at his living room sketch.
“What happened Mr. Khanna?” ,I asked.
“You seem to be in deep contemplation.”
“Hmmm. ” ,he said scratching his bald head.
“The wall is blank! ” ,he remarked.
I looked at him, hoping he would elaborate a bit but I guessed he was done.
“Please elaborate Mr. Khanna. What exactly is bothering you”, I asked him again, since I wanted to be on the same page with him, on this renovation project.
“That wall in the living room, It’s not plastered. I thought we’ll paint it red!”, he said attempting a gig.
“Neither plastered nor painted ! Only this book shelf and a couple of paintings; I don’t understand. No ornate display of the fine crockery that I possess” ,he said nodding his head vigorously; his eyes, still gazed at my sketch.
Now he wants to display his cups and saucers in the living room, I thought.
“Mr. Khanna, this is an exposed brick wall” ,I said. “It’s not blank! In fact it’s a very modernist and classy concept in wall decor .The bold display of brick is a statement in itself. It renders a beautiful rustic charm to your living room, Mr. Khanna”, I tried defending my design.
“Considering the fact that yours is an old house, with excellent brickwork hidden behind the chipped off paint and plaster; Why not use what we already have!”, I pursued my argument.
“We just need to carefully take off the plaster, clean your brickwork, apply sealant and bingo its ready! It’s already there in your house, So pocket friendly “, I went on. “Add two odd shelves of books, a little art work , that’s all you need” ,I added.
“All that is fine Simran. I love the idea of pocket friendly, I only suggested it! Ha ha ha!” ,he said, “But I want it to shine through, add some ‘gold’, some shimmer, I was to see some exquisite intricate patterns on these walls! ”
‘Nayi Naveli Dulhan’, he said, elaborating the gaudy ideas bustling in his blingy mind.
“Gold, is 28000/- Mr. Khanna !”, I thought aloud, knowing exactly where this conversation was going. This guy wanted to have tandoori legs with wine and caviar with rum.
“Mr. Khanna, these are two very different concepts. Mixing them will result in a pathetic ‘khichdi‘, which you would want to puke out!”
I had said more than what was asked for.
“I’ll explain both the decors to you and you can pick up the one, you like the most”, I said quickly, trying to control the damage I had just done.
“Using materials like brick, concrete, glass etc. in their natural form, mostly in a linear or a blockish manner, like we are doing here in your design Mr. Khanna, is a very ‘Brutalistic‘
approach to design”, I said , meandering away from the design in hand.
As I prepared a hand sketch for him, I fleeted around a bit and talked about other things that would keep him interested .
“This style of architecture flourished from 1950’s to 1970’s. Corbusier was a great connoisseur of this form of architecture!”, I said smiling.
“Talking of Corbusier, have you heard of The ‘Brise- soleil’, Corbusier’s gift to humanity . It’s a French word for a ‘sun-shading’ device. Corbusier lavishly used this concept in the form of simply patterned concrete walls. It has been modified, modernized and extensively used in ‘The Milwaukee Art Museum’ by Santiago Calatrava and at a lot of other places.” ,I said, venturing way out of the scope of this discussion.
“Brutalist? Brise – soleil?”, he repeated puzzled.
Mr. Khanna wore a blank look. Suspecting overhead transmission, I quickly got back to my sketch.
” That’s not what we are doing here anyways”, I said, not wanting him to put two and two together.
“Well here adjacent to this exposed brick wall, lie these off white walls and this here is a full folding sliding glass system, which lets your living room spill into your garden and vice versa ” ,I said pointing towards the sliding folding French doors.
“The kota stone flooring with regular interludes of these dull gold metal strips will give you a very budget friendly, elegant and utilitarian floor”, I continued.
“But where is the colour?” remarked Mr. Khanna. “The upholstery! ” I said.
“The upholstery brings in the colour to your room. In addition, your family, visitors, pets , plants and all the life around you will add colour to your living room” ,I continued.
” Why do you want to fill your colour book the very first day! Day by day and page by page new colours will get added and you won’t have to spend a penny. Leave a few blank slates here and there …It’ll all come useful some day!” I said getting philosophical.
Mr. Khanna was listening, for the first time.
“A few art pieces hanging carelessly on these off white walls, an odd piece of a delicate terracotta sculpture, some lush green indoor foliage sprinkled with warm yellow lighting will soothe your soul” ,I continued.
“This dark wood furniture, these occasionally thrown in glass tops and a casual rug lying by, will all bring it down to a very humane level, stress free and relaxing! ”
I paused for a while and so did Mr. Khanna.
“Well about the other concept …”, I started.
The wrinkles on Mr. Khanna’s face had smoothened and he was smiling now.
” The cushion covers can be gold!” he interrupted raising his palm, gesturing me to stop.
There was a moment of silence.
“Oh sure they can be!”, I replied as we broke into laughter.
‘Dull gold’ I thought to myself.