Living Stone
Better Interiors|June 2020
In Jaipur, the experience gallery of Stonex India designed by Hiral Jobalia Studio transforms the popular cladding and flooring material — stone — into a work of art in an ambience that feels like (a dream) home.
Carol Ferrao

Good design thrives on a trusted client-architect relationship, and the decade-long association between Stonex India and Hiral Jobalia Studio is proof. The brand — which is well known for its Indian and imported marble, semi-precious stones, granite, travertine, onyx, limestone and composites — turned to the Mumbai-based firm in 2010 to create its first gallery and office in New Delhi. Since then, the two have built not just an amicable relationship but also a productive dialogue on design and concept. “When they approached us to design their experience gallery as well as their exclusive stockyard at their new state-of-the-art facility at Kishangarh, Jaipur, it was more like homecoming for us,” shares architect Hiral Jobalia.

Nothing thrills an architect more than being trusted with a site where space is not a constraint. The “enormous site”, Hiral explains, was to be defined by a stockyard and gallery, covering 30,000 sq ft and 4,000 sq ft respectively with the gallery space sporting an excellent height of 14 feet. “The idea was to create a stage for their unique collection of materials as well as the brand’s impressive technical abilities to tame and sculpt them,” explains the architect who envisioned the gallery as symbolising “passion for nature and creativity.” The challenge was to execute the concept in just 100 days with no room for delay as the clients had already frozen the launch date.

Exquisite stone transcends trends but Hiral wanted to ensure the gallery, while rooted in the familiarity of the material, broke away from the norm. Not only does the design concept celebrate the material, it also ignites the imagination with the promise of limitless possibilities. The architect’s design philosophy is pretty simple: “When you walk into a space, it should resonate with you. It should make you feel peaceful and excited at the same time. This kind of interior becomes more personal and people can relate to it. Such a space in our mind is one that is well-designed.”

Placed right in the middle of the stockyard, the experience gallery promises a surreal experience that lives up to the design philosophy as well as the client’s singular brief. Maintaining a sense of mystery, the gallery is surrounded by a four-metre-tall boundary wall that leads the visitor through the experience centre and onwards to the stockyard. The double-height main entrance, featuring a combination of wood and painted aluminium extrusions in ribbed pattern, sets the larger-than-life design in motion. The rest of the boundary wall, fashioned as a facade, is treated like a hard landscaped area with textured Pietra Fino limestone dry cladding. A waterbody carved from a similar block of limestone renders a definite shape to the design with its distinctive look. This statement entrance wall sets the narrative for the gallery, which is divided into the lobby, an expansive lounge, a discussion area and a stairblock that leads to the mezzanine floor overlooking the stockyard.

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