Elements of Illusion

Urban Studio explores rudimentary themes like minimalism, illusion, luxury to design one-of-its-kind Crest Hotel Chennai

pronit nath 1

In a world of diminishing boundaries and shared ideas, evolving technology and the innovations are freely available across various social landscapes, duly manipulated to suit perceived economic strata and cultural extremities and anomalies. Pronit Nath, Principal Architect of Urban Studio states that the design philosophy for the new-age boutique hotel Crest in Chennai has been precisely to create a unique design that represents the seamless collusion of centuries-old principles of local Indian aesthetics, with the dynamism and finesse of global design, facilitated by developments in material sciences at warp speed.


The rooms in the hotel, along with the lobbies are all tailored to the finest detail, where everything is customised to a particular genre of design. The four genres are Nunya (Minimalism), Ati (Maximalism), Maya (Effect), and Rudra (Form).

Nunya – Maintaining Minimalism


The term minimalism is used to describe a style in which the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. The Nunya Lobby that veers into the rooms is a tastefully lit box finished in off-white laminate. A mirror at the end of the passage gives an illusion of an infinity corridor. The ambience in the room is stark, devoid of any external pomp or show, every element is conceived in shades of beige and white. Recesses and offsets are bold, but few and utilitarian. An extrusion from the wall functions as a study table. Only the floor of the room is in deep red which induces instant visual recall in an otherwise white room. A screen separates the bedroom area from the bathroom and is composed of a specially designed translucent resin tile module. The lighting in the Nunya room is recessed and encased in coves, so as to provide the requisite amount of light.


Ati – Maximal Design


Maximalism is commonly associated with the Victorian Era. It connotes beautiful artistry, often an excess of it, lavish and intricately designed furniture and upholstery, grand chandeliers and lighting elements. The Ati corridor has manifestations of the elegant and rich Kollam Rice art, or ‘Rangoli’ adorning it. Black inlaid on grey, alternating with white stripes, the composition is dense and intricate. An ornate cornice finished in exquisite gold leafing floats above the bed. The furniture and the drop down lights in delicate crystal are three dimensional replications of traditional motifs. The attached bathroom is a composition in white and gold. The lights are in white glass and brass rims and forms a contrasting foreground to the white Carrara marble panelling behind.


Rudra – Redefining Form


The Rudra corridor draws inspiration from colonnades and arcades that adorn ‘pradakshina‘ paths and entrance walkways to most Indian temples. The curves of the corridor, as well as its extension into the room, are inspired by the graceful form of the ‘kalash‘, a vessel used in Hindu religion to pour holy water on the pedestal of a deity. The curves also double up as elements of utility. The furniture is custom designed to complement the styling of the space. The colours used are subtle, in shades of beige and grey, and devoid of any texturing or detail, so as to keep the entire focus on the curves. The bathroom is like a piece of stippled artwork, with the Bisazza mosaic tiles laid out to enhances the curves of the wall. The shelves also extrude out of the wall as a tangential curve.

Maya – illusory tangles


The Maya corridor and rooms make use of myriad optical illusions, light and reflection effects to create an ever transitional yet very elegant space. The corridor is a heady concoction of mirrors and lights. A Kollam rice art pattern serves as a continuous light fixture on the ceiling. Cut into acrylic, these patterns get reflected on the black reflective floor below, as well as on the wine coloured reflective glass panels on either side. Multiple reflections reduce in intensity and as a result, the pattern appears to travel through a palette of monochrome. A beautiful Tanjore painting adorns an entire expanse of wall in the room. A dark tinted mirror facing the painting provides a monochromatic manifestation of the mural. The bathroom is intended to be a direct visual extension of the composition in the room. The materials used are textured concrete and Kandla grey coming together to create a distinct peaceful ambience.


Un-common Areas

The common areas are also designed as a part of the experience of the hotel. The reception area is housed in a glass box that is inlaid with metal ornamentation in rich red pattern, which is derived from the striped, plaid embroidery of the ‘lungi‘, a type of waistcloth worn by men in South India. The tiling or carpets also possess a rich Indian feel, either through patterns used, or the vibrancy of colour or lavish material. The ceiling of the café is replete with hung brass wire lamps in different shapes, which bring to mind profiles of Indian musical instruments. The brass wires cast intermingling shadows, spawned by the floating lamps they encase. The spectacle is vibrant and very artistic.


Drawing heavily from Indian mythological contexts and mystical concepts, Urban Studio managed to infuse the ‘wow’ factor into each element of the hotel.

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