This design and architecture firm creates unique spaces using eco-conscious practices and locally available materials

Bengaluru-based design and architecture firm Taliesyn is known for its eco-efficient buildings, and its latest offering, Ksaraah, is redefining the concept of sustainably luxurious homestays.
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To preserve our planet and its natural bounty, we must make changes at the ground level. With this goal in mind, Architects GS Mahaboob Basha and Shalini Chandrashekar launched Bengaluru-based design and architecture firm Taliesyn in 2010.

“When we initiated Taliesyn, our design vision was simple – to conceptualise architectural and design solutions to create meaningful spatial interventions that are deeply rooted in the landscape and respond to the vernacular paradigm of the site and locally available materials. Over the last decade, we have continuously striven to abide by this vision by curating eco-friendly built environments with each of our projects. The spaces designed by Taliesyn are a reflection of our principles and experiences,” says Shalini, who is also the Design Principal of the firm.

Shalini Chandrashekar, Founder of Taliesyn

A simple goal

Shalini considers design an intrinsic part of herself, liberally using artistic forms of expression in her daily life and attempting to solve everyday challenges through design. From a young age, she was fascinated by the combination of art and science that constitutes design in any form.

Delving into architecture was an extension of her inclination to create beautiful and lasting designs. Shalini acquired a specialised degree in Spatial Design from Chelsea College, University of Arts London, before beginning her professional journey in 2006. Ever since, she has cherished the exploration, creation and continuous education on the varied facets of a built environment.

The ethos of her firm, Taliesyn, is rooted in researching local crafts and indigenous techniques of design – a process that entails working closely with artisans and craftsmen – and using these artisanal creations to complement each space in a specific manner. Before joining Taliesyn, Shalini honed her design skills through professional collaborations with studios such as Vinnu Ponnappa Architects and D+A Architects in Bengaluru, as well as other virtuosos in the field of Product and Furniture Design.

Embarking on unique projects

Over the years, the 15-member strong team at Taliesyn has been involved in the creation of several unique spaces that have attracted the attention of design connoisseurs and media alike. They built ‘The Monsoon House’ over five years, from January 2014 - December 2019, which is a sprawling residence on the fringes of the backwaters of Thrissur in Kerala. The space exclusively used traditional materials such as a concoction of bold woven rugs with floral prints, jewel-toned upholstery, and curated items of furniture, which exuded a combination of opulence and familial warmth.

Resplendent ornamentation and an interplay of patterns were the leitmotifs of the interior design scheme. Marble and other stones were used to create a rich textured look, with tobacco marble, serpeggiante marble, and mosaic work being widely used in the residence’s expansive surfaces. The age-old craft of inlay work was generously sprinkled across the walls, floors, and ceilings of the house.

Another notable project of Taliesyn’s was Sthira – a recreational space that melds natural elements with local materials, and the specific design aesthetics of the owners.

“For a vernacular delight such as Sthira, the walls were clad in a collage of textural slate stone, while the creative use of tandoor Kota stone offered an immersive experience. Athangudi tiles cascaded down the walls onto the flooring in the bathrooms, and the bespoke curved green Baroda marble basin with a black granite top added pizzazz. Some of the walls were massed by stacking rustic terracotta tiles made with linear geometry in mind. A breeze-block wall created a tessellation of patterns and introduced a rooted feel into the setting,” explains Shalini with pride.

Effects of the pandemic

The global pandemic forced a massive change in the mindset in all spheres of life. Most importantly, it awakened us to the realisation that saving our planet and consequently ourselves, is entirely in our hands. With its eco-centric philosophy, Taliesyn had always believed in carving spatial identities that were sensitive to the needs of the inhabitants and local space. This ideology was further cemented with the arrival of the pandemic.

“It has taught us the need to humanise all built spaces, and even our clients are acknowledging the importance of curating healthy living environments since they are spending most of their time indoors,” shares Shalini.

Aesthetically appealing interior settings with comfortable furniture and calming elements of greenery have been trending over the last year and a half, and have introduced a healthy living experience that motivates productivity in all aspects of home and work life. The adversities and stark realities of the pandemic made Taliesyn, eco-conscious from the beginning, take an even keener look at adopting user-sensitive design processes.

A homestay with a difference

Apart from a ready acceptance of sustainable building practices, the approach towards travel has also undergone a sea change with the pandemic. People have realised the harmful effects of the ever-increasing human carbon footprint and have begun to consciously choose sustainable and local travel experiences. Additionally, precautions of safety and hygiene, the avoidance of crowded spaces and easy maintainability of social distance, have become deciding factors when choosing places to vacation in.

This inspired Shalini to design Taliesyn’s own homestay in Bengaluru, named Ksaraah. Completed in March 2021, this unique space offers a tranquil weekend getaway to unwind in the lap of nature and recover from the mental and physical distress brought on by the pandemic.

Shalini describes, “nestled in the lap of nature, Ksaraah is a weekend retreat emblematic of our design ideology. We have created a sanctum of rejuvenation away from the urban bustle. It is particularly designed in the context of its natural environment, paying ode to the existing landscape.”

Since its launch four months ago, Ksaraah has invited the attention of some of the most prestigious design platforms around the world, including the likes of Wallpaper, ArchDaily, Dezeen, Casa Vogue Brasil, Architectural Digest Russia, and Elle Decor Italia. Though initially designed as a private recreational residence, the global media coverage led to a flood of queries on Ksaraah’s availability as a homestay facility.

“Visitors have discovered the place through Taliesyn’s social media platforms, the media coverage we have received, and of course through traditional word of mouth communication. So, we have started welcoming a few people to sample our beautiful creation!” says Shalini.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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