Art Deco in the Blue City: Design Anthology covers AD’s work on Forest Essentials

Design Anthology, Asia

Ayurvedic Beauty meets Art Deco in India’s Blue City
Contemporary beauty brand Forest Essentials’ charming new retail space makes its home in what was once a traditional city structure, blending retro charm with regional traditions

Within the historic Stepwell Square in the old city of Jodhpur is one of the most prominent buildings restored as part of the JDH Urban Regeneration Project, an initiative to revive the walled city and its landmarks through design, commerce and culture.

Architect Akshat Bhatt of Delhi firm Architecture Discipline led the adaptive reuse project that saw a traditional city structure in an 18th-century stepwell transformed into a petite residence turned retail space for Ayurveda-based cosmetics brand Forest Essentials.

With priority given to preserving as much of the existing structure as possible, the traditional arched openings were strategically resized with new apertures added to create a sense of balance and proportion to the elevation. On one side, the facade is clad in Corten steel selected for its similarity to the colour and texture of the red sandstone commonly found in the region and for the way the surface will change over time.

The bold blue colour scheme, exaggerated proportions, and brass and gold accents give the interiors a decidedly Art Deco feel, and the latter is also a nod to traditional interior finishes of Jodhpur. The hand-cut linoleum underfoot is an adaptation of a traditional mosaic-inspired flooring pattern, with brass accents framing sections to resemble large tiles. In one corner, a dramatic gold spiral staircase winds its way up to the second floor.

Furniture and materials like velvet and suede are also a contemporary take on Deco kitsch — custom brass track lights, for example, imbue a retro quality, as do the curves of the armchairs and gold-framed mirrors. Branding and signage were created in the age-old vernacular painting techniques of Jodhpur’s walled city, and the two elements together — Art Deco alongside opulent regional elements — create an interface between the brand and visitors to the old city, and tells a story of Jodhpur’s rich built heritage.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Jeetin Sharma