A Study in Contrasts

Playing off of variations in light and shadow, India-based KNS Architects created a striking, yet inviting office space for a new client, balancing form with function while stimulating the senses.

by Robert Nieminen

Length, breadth, height and depth are the dimensions that define a confined space, but light is the fifth element that can alter the rest. Chiaroscuro—a word originally taken from Italian to describe the use of sharp contrasts in light and shade in art—is an inherent part of the dimension that creates deep variations and subtle graduations of light and shadow. Building upon its basic principles, the design elements selected by India-based KNS Architects for their latest office project revolve around a play on contrasts: light versus dark, cold versus warm, bold versus restrained and subtle versus glamorous.

According to Ar. Neemesh Shah, director at KNS Architects, the challenge was "to create a clutter-free space with a sense of calm and a break from the chaotic and claustrophobic environment, and converting a residential apartment of 1,100 square feet into an office, giving it a spacious feel."

The reception area, a central core of the modestly-sized office, has been treated as a significant aspect of the design, and an eye-catching form lends a distinct character to the space. An organic frame made of laser-cut Corian creates a major impact upon entrance and provides visual interest while also dividing the reception and working areas.

Understated elements such as the black flooring and muted walls help enhance the impact of the organic form, and a subtle contrast has been created in the flooring patterns to augment the play of light and dark throughout the space. A translucent acrylic sliding door behind the reception provides the space with the flexibility to open or close down areas when required.

The color palette has been correspondingly kept simple—white and shades of grey predominate, with strategic fluorescent accents sprinkled throughout. Hues of orange and grey represent an assertion of contrast in the main cabin, whereas vividly colored furniture from Interstuhl adds an electric touch to the space.

The conference room has been kept stark with a splatter of fluorescent polycarbonate panels. A mix of cold and warm lights infused in the Barrisol ceiling bathe the interiors in a soft glow. LED lighting adds a mystical touch, energizing the ambiance while at the same time being energy-efficient and cost effective. The mix of custom-tailored and designer furniture is soft and contoured, yet functional and comfortable for employees. On the whole, the conference room exudes a lively and inviting ambience.

KNS Architects has delivered an inviting, clutter-free space that works despite the office's modest square footage. Visiting clients will receive a warm welcome thanks to the space's practical and contrasting use of colors, forms and lighting.