The Zen Apartment: An Architectural Gem In The Heart Of Mumbai’s Urban Hustle

  • 15 Nov '23
  • 2:38 pm by Vatsala Sethi

Located in the historic neighbourhood of Colaba, inside the famous art deco building ‘Bakhtavar,’ The Zen Apartment isn’t just a contemporary abode; it’s a living canvas that silently hints at the wabi-sabi aesthetic of Japanese culture. In a world where our personal and professional realms intertwine, the need to distinguish our ‘on’ and ‘off’ time has never been more vital. Designed by Atelier Varun Goyal for a businessman, who sought to gift his son and daughter-in-law a new home this home radiates a sanctuary of calm through the furniture pieces to the wall colour, flooring, and décor pieces.

A dining scene framed by a 105-year-old blown glass lamp by Taherally’s with original brass fittings over Atelier Varun Goyal’s dining table. (Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

Upon entering the apartment, residents walk through the wooden foyer that leads to the living room and eventually to the first bedroom and bath. Walking through the modest entryway, the sleek geometric wood and brass accents quickly redirect the mind’s focus away from the city’s events, creating an atmosphere of tranquility. From the foyer to the living room, every detail of this apartment is a visual delight.

A balcony with the Mumbai coastline view lets in a lot of light into the home. It is accentuated with a handwoven natural fibre rug by The Rocking Chair Company and; a trolley from Big Piano. (Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

The 2,500-square-foot home has great ventilation, natural light, and sea views. The design team used these natural openings to complement the wabi-sabi aesthetic. Because wabi-sabi refers to the admiration and acceptance of beauty in flawed forms and nature, the design language of this home evolved with these simple concepts in mind. The living room, effectively the largest volume of the apartment, expands to the right of the entry with a transparent glass folding door functioning as a gateway, effortlessly linking to the balcony.


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A haven of comfort and style, this bedroom is a tranquil retreat with furniture from Taherally’s, Ravi Jain’s Collection and Atelier Varun Goyal. Diligently white kantha-stitched quilted sheets from Sarita Handa add to the elegance.
(Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

On the bedroom side, Taherallys and Maroo Lights lighting fixtures lend an Art Deco touch to the two rooms. The designers chose to include mood-enhancement lighting that emphasises architectural aspects and artwork in the flat. The primary bedroom maximises the ocean view with a bed that faces the water. The walls also serve as built-in closets with brass-infused clean lines on the doors.

A well-appointed study room: Wicker chair and clothes valet from The Rocking Chair Company by Ravneet Gujral; The red upholstered armchair by Atelier Varun Goyal; and the study table lamp by Phillips Antiques, all harmonize in perfect simplicity. (Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

The second bedroom, which was created with a strong eye for functionality, is particularly fascinating. It serves as a study room, to create a distraction-free environment that allows its users to focus and find tranquility in their work. The sofa-cum-bed in the room showcases the adaptability to optimising space and merging practicality with comfort. A one-of-a-kind wooden wardrobe brightens the space, emphasising the Zen concept – the balance of simplicity and substance. Both bedrooms’ floors are covered in wood as well as terrazzo to maintain the apartment’s neutral colour scheme.

The fusion of style and function, where the living room seamlessly merges with the dining area with bespoke dining chairs from Big Piano and antique pot from Natesons Antiquarts, Mumbai. (Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

The dining area seamlessly blends with the living room and combines elements of contemporary design with historic and industrial forms to create an appearance that is sleek, and modern. Fostering a sense of togetherness, it also makes the apartment more spacious and adds to the relaxed living experience. The kitchen, which is closer to the dining area and the private lobby, has a unique finish with Terrazzo flooring as the tile of choice with wooden skirting, lending it the impression of a monolith. With appliances from SMEG and BOSCH, lighting by Maroo Lights, and an Antique Brass Kettle by Phillips Antiques, this collection delivers understated elegance that will never go out of style.

Wooden sliding doors conceal the pantry illuminated by Maroo Lights, adorned with SMEG and BOSCH appliances, flooring from Kalinga and Classic Marble Company. (Image Credit: Talib Chitalwala)

With a restrained and material-focused palette, Goyal can satisfy the central idea of the minimal aesthetic while taking advantage of abundant natural light. Moreover, the home has also used natural materials like Mlime’s lime plaster to produce an all-white lime wash finish on the walls accentuating the framed paintings on it. Such raw texture wall wash material combined with terrazzo flooring with wooden borders and skirtings imbue the home with natural overtones. Layers of warmth are added with reclaimed antique teak wood and brass elements that adorn the doors, windows, and closets, with the Indian marble cladding in the bathrooms.

Amidst the ultra-clean lines, the artworks by Manjit Bawa, Shivaji Tupe, and Shah complement the carefully considered furnishings and furniture. The artworks complement the furniture and sustain the modern aesthetic. The zen design also prioritizes sensory engagement. Time slows down, commotion recedes, and tranquillity reigns in The Zen Apartment. Amidst the ceaseless whirlwind of activity that defines Mumbai, the living space defies the conventions of design and modern city living.


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