As part of the JDH Urban Regeneration Project in Jodhpur, Toorji Ka Jhalra, a decaying step-well in the heart of the city, was revitalised along with the urban space surrounding it. Forest Essentials is the first store in this public square. Built in a historic residential building that is refurbished and adapted to house retail operations for the store, the outlet represents a design scheme replete with traditional and regional elements–the blue and gold colour palette, a homage to the city itself; traditional multi-foil arches, strategically resized to achieve balance; hand-cut linoleum flooring that is an adaptation of local mosaic patterns; the use of vernacular gold-plating techniques for window signage; and a scaled model of the step-well and the public square itself. These elements aim to establish an interface between the visitors and the brand, subtly introducing them to the architectural and cultural heritage of Jodhpur.
Advancing towards the Stepwell Square in the old city of Jodhpur, one comes across the most prominent building of the JDH Urban Regeneration programme. A minuscule and congested residence-turned-retail space, Forest Essentials at JDH is an adaptive reuse of a conventional old city structure.
With an intent to cause minimal damage to the existing built mass, the traditional arched openings are strategically re-sized, supported by the introduction of a new aperture to bring a sense of balance and proportion to the elevation. The northern facade is masked in COR-TEN steel which corresponds to the colour and texture of the regional Red Sandstone. The metal is consciously selected because of its ability to change its appearance with time, allowing the building to respond to the changing weather conditions and environment. A Brazilian flame creeper rising up the facade adds a contrast to the metal scrim.
The retail outlet represents Art-Deco in a contemporary chic by exaggerating colour schemes and proportions. The interiors are covered in a pastel green colour which happens to belong to the brand’s festive catalogue. The design scheme re-introduces brass and gold, which are inherent to Art-Deco and associated with the traditional interior finishes of Jodhpur. The product display system is more of an apparition than a mere display mechanism. With the ability of being physically maneuverable, the display becomes more interactive than a regular shelving system. Painted in gold, the mechanism captures attention in a backdrop of pastel green.
The floor, conceived in hand-cut and polished wax linoleum, is an adaptation of an old mosaic-inspired flooring pattern, with the introduction of brass accents breaking the floor into modules. The dramatic golden spiral staircase beckons you to the upper floor of the retail outlet.
Furniture is also a contemporary take on the Art-Deco kitsch; the use of velvet and suede brings a plush feel to the space. The furniture luxuriously uses brass and gold for its structural frames. The custom-made technical track lights sculpted in brass, boasting a retro and vintage aesthetic, are also a manifestation of a bygone era. The branding and signage on the show windows make use of the age-old vernacular gold painting techniques of the walled city of Jodhpur.
Comprehensively, the retail space is a consequence of an adaptation of Art-Deco and a critical analysis of opulent regional elements that speak about the rich built heritage of Jodhpur. The retail outlet is meant to establish an interface between the tourists (visiting the old city of Jodhpur) and the brand, as well as introduce them to the built construction heritage of Jodhpur.