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November 15, 2010

A Tranquil Haven

Text by Sohini Datta and Farah Palia. Photographed by Vishal Kullarwar

Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta are the toasts of the Indian architectural and interior design world. Verve takes a break at the sprawling Pinakin estate in Alibaug and meets the duo that makes dream homes a reality

  • Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta, Architect and Interior Designer
    Pinakin Patel in the high-ceilinged spacious living room, enhanced by dull gold and creamy white upholstery
  • Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta, Architect and Interior Designer
    Mohak Mehta and Pinakin Patel in their dining room where the mirrored table grabs attention
  • Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta, Architect and Interior Designer
    The sloping roof adds to the cosy interiors of the bedroom
  • Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta, Architect and Interior Designer
  • Pinakin Patel and Mohak Mehta, Architect and Interior Designer
    Mohak Mehta in the expansive lawns of the Pinakin Estate with the outdoor pavillion in the background

Pinakin Patel’s sprawling estate is set on three acres of rustling leaves and chickoo trees. From the very entrance, you realise that he is a man of understated grandeur. As he later commented, “Cities get suffocating and suddenly all we want is acres of space to stretch in.” Under the blazing October sun, as we toured the estate, our jaws dropped when Mohak mentioned that this house is over a decade old. Not a pebble out of place and not a single grass blade grown without notice, this is a home that has been cared for, every inch watched with a sharp eye, to make sure it remains as good as new for a few more decades to come. There are no signs of wear and tear and though there are echoes of perfection in every corner of the house there is also an aura of comfort that places all visitors at ease.

Once inside, as we settled on the raw silk sofas and watched the afternoon blaze outside, the interiors unfolded in rich tones of beige and wood with injections of generous blacks and silver. High ceiling and expansive seating reminds us constantly of the sumptuousness that Pinakin the brand stands for. Of the dark wood veneer he explains, “There is an idea in the city that light coloured walls make the room look bigger. But in this torrid weather, where we do not get a chance to miss the sun, the dark veneer makes sure that ample light comes in but doesn’t bounce off the walls making it extremely bright. It needs to be cool, yet well-lit.”

The Sri Lankan writer, Michael Ondaatje in describing Geoffrey Bawa’s work had said that art is a long period of intimacy. In the plush interiors of this home, one feels the intimate journey of Pinakin and his aesthetics. “On a Sunday, I am usually found at the outdoor pavilion where I rewind with my books, music and a sketchbook,” says Pinakin whose biggest design influence has been the work of Geoffrey Bawa and Christian Liagre. Staying away from the word bling, as we admire the mirrored dining table complete with his new collection of silverware which is a part of the brand’s 25th year celebration, we realise that in so many decades this designer is very close to the pinnacle of his aesthetic best. His style spells luxury and class, always muted and never in your face. As he adds, “There was a tradition in India of mirrored furniture. Everything can be made of stone around you but mirrors always add a pinch of glitter.” For Pinakin, this is not just a mausoleum to good taste but a family home. He says, “I have never been very social and so I shifted my residence to quiet Alibaug. But I believe that landmark events should happen at home. Children should grow up, get married off at home.” In fact the house has played host to many family affairs such as the engagement of both his nephew Mohak and his brother Harsh (to Raja Dhody’s daughter Aneesa). Every corner of the house is filled with many cherished memories for the family. As one watches the vast expanse of the lawn roll into the flowerbed and then into the living area through the French windows, the seamless flow of his approach is evident. The green hue of the grass lawn that unravels into the living room is the perfect playground for the much loved and pampered family Labrador, Sumo. The family usually gathers around the living room along with Sumo over meals.

Mohak Mehta is the fresh new blood in the Pinakin brand. The son of his best friend, Mohak is now family and since the inception of Pinakin, the store and Pinakin Patel Associates (PPA) the duo have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. Pinakin, the store, has a range of furnishings and home accessories whilst PPA undertakes development and design projects. As a mentor, Pinakin says, “It’s Mohak who keeps the youth in the brand. I feel so pleasantly surprised that while most of my contemporaries are dead and gone, my work is still featured in magazines’ ‘hot new picks’ month after month alongside younger designers.” As part of the silver jubilee, Pinakin has even ventured into a chic range of clothes (in collaboration with Hemant Lecoanet) and jewellery. His long list of patrons extends from Shabana Azmi and Rajiv Bajaj to Max & Lubov Azria.

Though Pinakin spends most of his time in Alibaug working on his latest collections, Mohak lives in Mumbai with his high school sweetheart and lovely wife Niyati. Together they head a team of over 80 people who are constantly working on evolutionary design ideas for all their projects.

The Pinakin estate back in Alibaug, where the great ideas are born is anything but a house. It is a pot brimming with inspiration that can only be sought after by living amidst nature. It is therapeutic at times when the breeze of the chickoo and banyan trees promises to heal, a treasure chest of fabulous artifacts and finally it is a home for the family to live, learn and grow.

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