Design Talks with Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar

10 July, 2020

Architect, interior designer, actor- multi-faceted creative Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar shares his inspired living space and opens up about his design journey. His modern Indian aesthetic shines through his work at his Pune based architect studioHAUS and decor brand KOY. 

Please share your design journey with us. 
I have been creatively inclined from a young age; my mother and grandmother have influenced my aesthetics early on by involving me in various skilled crafts. During my time at Kodaikanal International School, I intuitively cherished the natural landscape, which reflects in my work through the use of Indian materiality and motifs derived from nature’s offerings. Arts and drama have been a constant in my life, therefore it was my natural progression to pursue it in university at Parsons, New York. 
Being in New York, I recognised my affection for the contemporary aesthetics which led me to start my architecture and interior design practice- studioHAUS. Contemporary Indian aesthetic being my forte, my spaces required home decor elements that were not widely available back in 2013-2015. Thus, came into existence my home decor brand KOY. To bridge the gap between the demand and supply in the design community.
My journey with studioHAUS and KOY has been pretty amazing, with some great opportunities that enabled me to showcase Internationally and be recognised for my talent. In 2017, winning the EDIDA “Young Talent Award” and followed by EDIDA 2019 “Designer of the Year” humbled me to see my work being appreciated in its bare form. My project ‘parkHAUS’ has been awarded the ‘Best Residential Project 2018’ by Trends Awards. It is a material dreamland, wherein cosmically charged energy crystals have been encrusted in the terrazzo flooring. 

Kunaal’s favourite pieces of furniture- The Cosmos marble table and Popcorn chair in his eclectic living space

What inspires your work, how would you describe your design aesthetic?
I am a silent observer; my surroundings impact my work deeply. Simplistic elements like our lifestyle, vernacular imprints, ceremonial customs, and everyday objects influence my design visions. As my work is extensively showcased Internationally, my appreciation for all things Indian has increased furthermore. Thus, embodying the contemporary Indian aesthetic.

Kunaal wears the Winfrey Shirt

How would you describe the vibe of this eclectic space you have shared with us? 
This space is my home and studio. It is an extension of my experiences. I love collecting curios from my travels and experiments. These combined with my design prototypes, form my ‘happy place’. Every design is prototyped by realising it is the most experimental medium to push its boundaries and these exotic pieces become part of my living space. Originality is definitely my fuel, so everything in my surrounding is a custom design piece.
‘Modern Maharaja’ is a term that best describes the vibe of this space. Objects of desires collected over years and treasured in rare materiality. A unique vibe that best describes my sensibilities. A burst of colours, textural play, graphic drama, and most importantly, reflecting my personal eclectic style.   

What are some of your favourite pieces of furniture? 
Currently, I am drooling over the latest addition to my home the ‘Granite Naag Heads’. They are hand-carved by roadside artisans on the outskirts of Pune. They are known to carve spice grinding objects with mallets and other small artifacts. It was a humbling process to see them do it with their hands, we started off by making a footstool and then some garden sculptures, the Naag Heads. It was an expertise spread over three weeks and now one of my favourite objects. I have two Naags guarding the entrance to my house, so mythological

Kunaal wears the Jameela Shirt
The hand-carved Naag heads designed by Kunaal

3 spaces or buildings around the world that take your breath away? 
The Pantheon is one of my favourites, I have a light that pays homage to its breathtaking Dome, it is a semicircular fiber dome with a hand-painted trompe l’oeil fresco with a central oculus being the light source. I love Central Park in New York, I have fond memories of spending a lot of time there but more importantly, it’s the perfect requirement for a metropolis, especially the variety of man-made landscapes and flora it has to offer. One place I love the most is my home. It is a stunning curation of horticulture, art, and sculpture by my mother. I never get tired of the inspiration and ever-changing effect the landscape provides! 

You’re throwing a brunch, what’s on the menu? 
Aperol Spritz and Italian food :)

Any movies that have inspired you or stand out to you when it comes to design?
All Wes Anderson films are exceptionally beautiful when it comes to production design. There is a lot to learn architecturally from it, I personally even love Bar Luce designed by him at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. 

Favourite artists/ sculptors.
Picasso and Wendell Castle 

What are some of your favourite pieces of furniture you have designed?
My Cosmos marble tables and the Popcorn chair are my favourites. To me, they are a perfect balance of sculpture, materiality, function, and intrigue. I love reimagining them in newer varieties and materials. 

Tea time with our Gondh Teapot

A travel memory that stands out for you?
A trip to Russia with my mother, I studied Russian in school and found myself at ease when I was there as I could navigate myself everywhere. It was a unique experience of incredible baroque architecture juxtaposed with a brutal communist style. I loved that mix, and I see a lot of that it translates into my work in subtle ways. 

Which travel destination are you keen to explore? 
I’ve been wanting to explore Japan for a while, I hope I can soon and also ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway route once!