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Since 1st March, 1999
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Living by design
A black panther statuette from Kenya

Designer Alex Davis has an advantage when it comes to doing up his own home. He can — and he has — filled it with pieces of furniture and other items that he has made himself. There are the acrylic see-through dining tables, the sofa sets and the unusual bunched lamps hanging low over the dining table which are all from his own workshop.

But Davis and wife Sangeeta have two kids — Ayaan, 10, and Agastya, 6 — so don’t expect Homes and Gardens-style spick-and-span perfection. This is a home with a well lived-in feel.In fact, one corner in the sitting room which looks like it has been painted black turns out, on closer inspection, to be a sort of blackboard where the children can doodle and write whatever they wish.

“The kids love to write on the walls so this was created to give them their own space,” says Sangeeta. The blackboard is also used as a message board for Alex and Sangeeta.

The dining space flaunts lights and a dining table designed by Alex Davis
Davis’ den, uniquely painted in black, is filled with knick-knacks from all over the world; (below) the living room is brightened up with straight-lined furniture designed by Davis as well as a red Juju hat on the wall

When the family bought the three-bedroom flat which spreads over two floors, in Delhi’s Bengali-dominated Chittaranjan Park in 2004 they made radical alterations, changing the entrance, laying white marble flooring and putting up new walls. The result is a home that’s a fine balance of aesthetics and design sensibility and also filled with exotic collectibles from around the world. “When I’m travelling I pick up works of art and knick-knacks unique to a particular region,” says Alex.

One very attention-getting knick-knack is a bright red Cameroon Juju hat that hangs above a sofa in the sitting room. At first glance it looks like a mammoth red flower. It’s one of many collectibles from Africa and it came back with the Davis family when they returned from a vacation there.

The family lives mainly on the second floor and the centrepiece of the house is the large drawing-cum-dining room with two large seating areas and a dining space in one corner. The drawing room comes alive with Davis’ simple straight-lined furniture. Upstairs is a terrace and the den where Alex retires when he wants a spot of peace and quiet to do some thinking. There’s another room next to the den for guests.

In the sitting room, one large sofa set to the left of the entrance is upholstered in crimson fabric and it stands out against the white walls and marble floor. Sit down on the sofa and your eyes will immediately go to a large round mirror inspired by a thali, designed by Alex. On the adjacent wall hangs a painting in bright red by artist Manish Nai. Opposite the sofa is a very large television and next to that is a shelf with a collection of DVDs. A tall cat — it’s a piece of aboriginal art — seems to guard this part of the house.

(From above) A
weathervane sits pretty in the
garden; a Moroccan lamp in the den; an eye-catching
decorative light
in the den

The dining area is a carefully crafted attention-getter. A square wooden table has been teamed with see-through acrylic chairs and above it are the bunched lights that come down low. Both the chairs and lights are Alex’s creations. On one wall above the dining table is a picture taken by Alex of Chittaranjan Park’s fish market by night. On another wall is a mirror decorated with red floral patterns. Facing the dining space is the blackboard-like wall.

One area where Alex’s creativity is clearly evident is the terrace on the third floor and the den next to it. Lush plants and tall wild grass have been grown in pots, forming a green wall that blocks out the buildings all around. Peeping out from the long grass is a rooster-shaped weathervane which, in the evenings, is silhouetted dramatically against the setting sun. The terrace is often used for alfresco dinners and parties.

The den itself has black walls against which Alex’s exotic creations stand out. A lounge chair from Kerala is Sangeeta’s favourite. Apart from books you’ll spot corals and pine cones and other interesting items which Alex encourages the boys to collect.

There are also several black cage-like lanterns in different sizes from Apartment 9. Then, there’s what looks like a moss-covered stone, but is actually a piece by famous designer Christian Tortu. At the extreme end of the room hangs a giant oversized light bulb — it’s a decorative piece as well as being an actual working bulb. Draped around it are creeper-like lights by designer Tord Boontje.

So is Davis going to change the look of the house in the near future? Says Dav is: “It has never been a conscious effort to give the house a certain look but with time it keeps on evolving.”

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