Traditional Indian Step Wells Come Alive in Mumbai Retail Store by SJK Architects | Forest of Chintz | Mumbai

Traditional Indian Step Wells Come Alive in Mumbai Retail Store by SJK Architects| Forest of Chintz | Mumbai

Bold yet understated, SJK Architects’ design for the flagship store of Forest of Chintz in Mumbai brings alive India’s glorious, ancient step wells. The restrained material and colour palette inspires an almost cavernous retail experience – providing a suitable backdrop for the label’s exuberant collections and facilitating an intimate rendezvous with the visitors. The team has shared more details about the project with SURFACES REPORTER (SR). Take a look:

Also Read: Shanmugam Associates Takes Cues From Stepped Wells of Gujarat To Design Courtyard of the Northstar School | Rajkot

An Ode to India’s Built Heritage

Occupying 800 square feet within the old Laxmi Wooden Mills building in southern Mumbai, the brand’s flagship showroom is conceived as a celebration of India’s rich heritage.

Upon entering the store, one is greeted by an open-plan space with a continuous monolithic stepped display system running along the wall edges, encouraging visitors to take in the entire range of products at a glance.

Design Inspired By Ancient Stepwells

Reminiscent of traditional stepwells, the display’s edges meander in playful ins and outs that allow visitors to move around, pick up the products, touch and feel them: intimately engaging with the collections in their own time. 

A trio of massive arched windows on the East wall flood the space with daylight, a welcome asset of the old building envelope.

The stepped display system is built with light-weight Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks (the space underneath is kept hollow as any additional load on the slab was to be minimised) and finished in grey cement plaster.

This allows it to merge seamlessly into the walls and floors, creating a uniform finish throughout. The desired finish – raw, natural, yet smooth – is the result of grey POP: a composition of grey cement, white cement, POP and adhesive.

Forest of Chintz is an Indian luxury label that makes statement accessories and haute couture – from clutches, neckpieces, and earrings, to scarves, tunics, and display mannequins. Its vibrant range of products draws from India's rich handcrafting culture.

A Tailor-Made Ergonomic Display System

The heights and widths of the stepped platforms were determined based on a detailed study of Forest of Chintz’s product collection, assessing the size and volume of each product.  Cardboard mockups were created on-site to determine the placement of each item for easy ergonomic access and visual appreciation.

For instance, accessories and clutch bags are flat-laid on the lowermost steps, while the taller displays of mannequins and jewellery pieces on busts are placed closer to eye level.

This eases visibility and avoids overlooked pockets in the store as visitors traverse through the space. Sleek, minimalist brass fixtures are installed on the North and West walls to showcase the avant-garde apparel collection.

A Forest of Lights

At the centre of the store, hanging pendant lights finished in brass arrest the visitors’ gaze, creating a veritable ‘forest of lights’ – a symbolic token inspired by the name of the brand. 

Underneath the pendant, a long, rectilinear island, finished in distressed mirror is placed, reflecting the grey of the walls and the lights hanging above. This island is cleverly engineered to provide ample concealed storage for additional inventory.

Together, the pendant lights and the island create a centrepiece to bind the whole space together.

Project Details

Firm Name: SJK Architects
Project Name:  Forest of Chintz
Text credits: SJK Architects 

Products / Vendors 

Flooring: CMC marbles
Furnishing: Yamini
Technical lighting: Abby lighting
Decorative lighting: Hatsu
Mirror lighting: Chloros lighting
Brass switches: SSK international
Paint: Asian paints
Arts / Artefacts: Lion India (Artwork suspension system)              


Electrical: RJ Enterprises
Civil: Kshitij Interiors                      
HVAC: Shiv trading
Firefighting and CCTV Technet
Speaker and AV system:  ODEL systems
Graphic design & Signage: Rabia Gupta        

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