Ananda – A Sustainable and Sensational Surprise!

As we drive from the chaos of metropolitan Delhi and approach the idyllic farmhouse of South Delhi, Mayura’s voice on the phone plays back in my mind, “Look out for a big boulder etched with two lotus stems inscribed with ‘Ananda’ -- you would have arrived”.

Daughter of well-known artist Sarla Chandra, Mayura Chandra Kumar is a fashion designer who runs the ‘Mayura Kumar Design Studio’ that celebrates the artisanal beauty and creativity of Indian textiles, crafts and clothing. The designer is passionate about creating a synergy between the traditional and contemporary spaces in her home with an accent on simplicity that reflects a true Indian soul. ‘Ananda’, the stunning and contemporary farmhouse of Mayura and her sons Madhav and Raghav, nestles in the peaceful and green environs of South Delhi.

The journey of making ‘Ananda’ a home is interspersed with the lives, interests and memories of her family.

Once you enter through the gates of the property, a lengthy walkway set in pink Dholpur stone guides you to the home. A word of caution here! A tall, old Jamun tree standing dead centre in the middle of the pathway greets you as you walk along a lengthy lotus pond running down your path. This leads you to the entrance foyer of the home. As you wait to enter the home, you see a raw textured granite exterior stone wall bearing three handcrafted metal lotus stems and a tall wooden Ganesha from Karaikudi. From here, you walk through the tall wooden doorway to step inside the home. The most spectacular golden ‘Tree of Life’ painting done by Sarla Chandra, Mayura’s mother, greets you alongside a tall bamboo tree growing inside the foyer.

‘Ananda’ is a green project that is designed and based on sustainable architecture. The house is a symbol of contemporary architectural language expressed through its clean, crisp lines in the exterior façade as well as the interior layout of the space, which is carefully crafted with a modern Indian contemporary theme. “Since the farmland was situated amidst lush greenery with old trees and foliage – an underlying brief given to the architect was to allow us to experience the outdoors seamlessly through living indoors. The home also had to reflect the simple living of our family – a manifestation of a space that we could find relatable” says Mayura.

The farmhouse has large open living, dining and family lounge spaces flowing seamlessly into one another. A staircase going to the upper floors is tucked parallel to a sensational two-story toughened glass held with spider prongs, and it dazzles the interiors with natural daylight. The spacious family bedrooms upstairs and smartly designed bathrooms with efficient and practical wardrobe and shoe storage spaces are well thought through. Apart from this, the house features a modern island kitchen on the ground floor overlooking a pebbled mango tree courtyard, which makes cooking an enjoyable experience. It is well supported with a useful utility room with laundry and ironing facility.

A game room, a study, and a studio space are other neatly designed rooms punctured with skylights that let the natural light in and cater a spectacular view of the property from the upper floor as well. An apparent floating veranda overlooking a square lily pond and a zen garden at the back houses a half-court where Madhav and Raghav play Basketball. With so much greenery around, it is no wonder that wildlife sightings on the property, especially dancing peacocks are a daily occurrence in the monsoons.

Ananda stands beautiful in pristine white, infused with an ancillary palette of tusk ivory, shades of ecru and taupe that are visible throughout. Flashes of dark mahogany have been used in the woodwork of the house. Since in the farmhouse, each space flows seamlessly into the other, a white engineered stone for the flooring was suggested. The exterior landscaping is smattered with natural pink Dholpur, while the interior of the house is minimal in neutral tones, with mostly off-white for the background theme consciously paired with vibrant paintings by Mayura’s mother that infuse essence and life into the rooms.

To energise the space, the rooms are furnished with vibrant and rich Indian craft in intense colour tones; from vermillion red, hot fuchsia pink, intense coral orange, sunshine yellow, lime green and blue indigo, you can see it all. The house also showcases contemporary fixed furniture; most of these were designed specifically. The neat extendable buffet table, the bar, the study desks, and the modern-looking Mandir were specially commissioned. What caught my attention was a drop-down useful ironing board attached to Mayura’s wardrobe. In addition, the eclectic collage of pieces that gave a personal character to the home was collected over many years. To make the house look predominantly Indian, Mayura brought a lot of the carved antique Indian furniture from antique dealers in Delhi. Some interesting Abaca reed furniture and beautiful tables with colourful flower art in the family room were gifted to her by her sister Hansa Piparsania, from Thailand and the Philippines. An antique Brass inlay wood ‘Pitara’ from Kutch was something she bought in Ahmedabad as a student, many years ago.

The family’s ideas were given a concrete shape by a well-known Delhi based architect, Ranjan Gupta (Ppal) and his team. “He suggested that since the plot was linear, the architecture should be expressed as a long angular structure to orient it with the greens spread all around the property. Also, since a generous amount of tall and wide glass was to be used to make the living experience green, a clever way was devised to integrate wooden slats at a height to act as sun-breakers.” said Mayura. She further added, “The greywater was channelised to the exterior lawns by laying a web of underground perforated pipes. Intelligent lighting design was done by Atul Agarwal (Reiz - Electro Controls). The solar panels were mounted on the terrace to heat the water naturally; hence no geysers are used.”

Mayura’s home displays a warm ambience blending simplicity with comfort and aesthetics. The artefacts are an eclectic mix of mostly Indian and Asian influences. There is a prized collection of antique bronze Indian statues like Ganesha, Krishna and some sarontas, lotas, nandis, kamalkalash, urlis and diyas, some of which she inherited from her parents and some she added on.

Additionally, Afghani kilims, Mirzapur dhurries, and silk carpets from Agra add a rich and colourful accent to her flooring. Some finely woven wicker wood Chettinad chairs from South India are placed with wooden metal Jaali tables. Chakkis, jharonkhas, and jhoolas carved with old floral tiles bring Rajasthan into her home. Some carved antique Nizam’s artefacts from Hyderabad that was gifted by her parents also form part of her collection. Her sister Hansa, while living in Bangkok and Manila helped her source some amazing Thai arts and crafts like Buddha, Chofas, and Monks. A bunch of Phillipino mother of pearl Abaca lamps dangling from her mango tree in the centre of her kitchen courtyard also catches one’s sight. Mayura tells us that the light diffused from these lamps dazzles up the courtyard at night, creating a magical look. She especially mentions an intricately carved ‘Thai Spirit House’ housing a stunning golden Buddha that blesses her home.

When asked about her favourite area in Ananda, Mayura says, “It’s hard to pick what I love the most about it. However, my mother’s colourful and meditative art is my favourite; it infusing life into my home”. Mayura’s home truly narrates her story. It is sunny, open and warm like her. It is sprinkled with pieces that are attached with memories collected over time, where each piece and corner narrates her story. As we walk through the peace and calm of her home, there is a relaxed and natural feel, allowing us to hear the song of birds, watch the dance of sunlight, witness the shadow of trees and find a rhythm in its silence. Truly a Sensational Space inside and outside!        - Srivalli