Emblematic of rooted sensibilities, Ensemble’s Hyderabad store weaves an experience enrobed in nostalgia, an expressive architectural narrative, and subtle hues that leave one transported.
The endeavours of creation are instilled with added gravitas when a layered history of prowess, authenticity, and craftsmanship anchors its demeanour. Stemming from that sentiment, Ensemble’s Hyderabad store is a flagbearer of the revered couture house’s voice and brand narrative, opening its doors in the Deccan.
Situated on a prime slice of real estate in the eminent Banjara Hills neighbourhood, the store shares its context with other high-ranking fashion houses, making it a sought-after haunt for artisanal craft in the city. Bearing a legacy spanning over four decades and helmed by Tina Tahiliani since 1992, Ensemble is considered India’s first fashion house, offering its patrons an experience curated with the works of a bevy of celebrated designers.
At its heart, the brand celebrates the fervour of handcrafted artisanship and projects it globally from a modern lens. The design brief spotlighted the need to carry through the existing design vocabulary displayed across the country’s stores, which Architect Bijoy Jain conceptualised into being. Tasked with this endeavour, the architecture studio needed to conjure a fresh DNA while retaining the essence synonymous with Ensemble.
“Subtly opulent yet staunchly rooted in Indian sensibilities, the Hyderabad store reaches deep into the concept of material tactility. These materials have been acquired from their native sources in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. Clean-lined and driven by essentialism, the designed elements were customised to a T and created to echo the overarching palette of hues and finishes witnessed in the stores created by Bijoy. We desired the leitmotifs of softer, rounded geometry, open-plan layouts, and muted tones to come through strongly,” elicits Reddy.
The selected materials came with prolonged periods of procurement and curing, factoring in a careful conception of timelines. Bartering away generic construction materials, the studio focused on including materials from their point of origin, underpinning the quality of handcrafted finesse that resonates with the brand’s vision.
Monolithic and stoic, the store’s architectural envelope is imagined as a staggered cuboid in a cementitious tone. Cast in poured grey terrazzo, the lower levels are crowned by a top floor that rests encased within a punctured concrete screen created by SuperCast. Strands of organic greens emerge from built-in planters, spilling from the elevation, contrasting the structure’s stark linearity. A large double door in a mildly weathered indigo finish beckons one indoors, paying tribute to the doors of various Ensemble stores across the country.
“Traversing the entrance, one is made privy to the overarching tone of the retail venue. The double-height interior feels colossal, engaging one’s gaze with the interplay of height,” highlights the Architect. A duo of lofty windows punctuate the passageway and draw diaphanous light inside via the veined Banswara marble infills. The 12-foot-high, softly arched volume is rendered in soft pink lime plaster, hinting at the colour’s prominent debut. A pair of Murano lights cascade into the passageway, underpinning the Art Deco undertones.
Housing the contemporary collection, the ground floor expresses restraint in materiality. Imagined as a contiguous gallery-esque space, this level is bathed in a muted grey tone peppered by display nooks with brass accents, marble shelving, and bespoke furniture in reclaimed wood, stone, and cane. Elements such as the Danny Mehra x Room Therapy antique Kurdish Rug in a seating corner adds an accent of colour to the otherwise pared-down space.
The grey tones bleed into a dusty pink hue that swathes the stairwell walls and steps; the walls have been finished in pink lime plaster, while the steps have been moulded in pink sandstone. Sculptural brass wall sconces by The Hesperus illuminate the stairway romantically, playing off the fleeting shadows of the retro elevator’s meshed shaft finished in the signature indigo pigment.
Also enveloped in grey, the first level houses the men’s and textile collection. The trove of sarees has been slotted into the open, gridded shelves against which a massive marble table stretches for patrons to be seated around. “The impact of the architectural volume and the double-height curve is further pronounced from this level as one looks into the passage below,” iterates Sona.
Steeped in a tête-à-tête with the omnipresent pink, the second level is dedicated to the display of bridal couture. With an individualistic identity, one deeply sculpted to reminisce Bijoy’s design theme, this level uses pink sandstone on the floors and a matched tone on the lime-plastered walls. Abundant daylight seeps into the heart of the space via the concrete screen façade, conjuring a dance of light and shadow. A sumptuously designed seating area for family and friends grounds the layout, dotted with bespoke furniture by Phantom Hands. Doors to the roomy trial rooms have been crafted in marble and wood, nodding to the celebrated detail in Bijoy’s design.
Grounded materiality reigns over the space’s homogeneous entirety, creating a plush space that dabbles in exploring natural stones manifesting predominantly as the structured staircase, gilded accents, and unassuming monotones. Spatial thresholds visually dissolve, allowing the punctured arches to frame views of the pool and green-dotted outdoors that create a juxtaposition between gentle curved forms and linearity.
“The experience at Ensemble is a mosaic of robust materials indigenous to our country. However, these humble and sustainably-sourced materials have been seen in a new light, allowing them to exude a sense of quiet opulence and plushness while retaining their simplicity. While carrying slivers of the existing design ethos, this space shoulders a renewed vision for Ensemble in a new city — we’ve strived to create a novel amalgam of the past and the present while preserving the essence of the brand’s spirit,” concludes the Principal Architect.