Aralias Apartment Design: Armaan Siddiqui

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At an age when many people are trying to find their way in a career, Armaan Siddiqui has been blazing a trail of entrepreneurship. To many, it may seem that he already had a solid foundation in Evergreen International, a company with three decades in furniture exports; but Armaan chose to create something that was unique and would redefine furniture retail in India. Delhi House Design

Having seen interesting products in Europe I wanted to bring the Indian consumer something innovative both in terms of concept and design.

Blissfully unaware of what the future held in store for him, he went to study engineering at the University of Southern California. During the summer holidays he did internships at Habufa Meubelen in Holland .The exposure to international brands and specialised manufacturing processes inspired him to venture into the field of retailing lifestyle products like furniture and home accessories.

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He learnt a lot about design and lifestyle furniture during internships in Europe, and hoped to bring that to India on a unique platform. Westwood was conceptualised in 2008 to provide the Indian consumer with world-class products in a setting that incorporated all the various elements of home décor and was not restricted to being just another furniture store.

Armaan went back to Europe, where he had been inspired, to tie-up with niche brands for everything from high-end furniture to home accessories. He decided that this would be the first step towards creating a hub for home living solutions at Westwood.

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Upon his return to India, his mind abuzz with plans and ideas, he found that his family was shifting their home to a 5000 sft apartment in the luxurious Aralias in Gurgaon. This apartment complex was set in the picturesque surrounding of a sprawling golf course.

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The apartment itself was handed over to the Siddiquis as a bare shell and Armaan’s mother was working on the interiors with a team of professionals.

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The framework of the apartment was being put in place and Armaan was beginning to see a synergy between the two projects.

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The Siddiqui family decided that their home would be the best representation of the Westwood concept. Armaan plunged into this project with much enthusiasm and saw it evolve simultaneously with Westwood.

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There is no better endorsement of your product than incorporating it in your own lifestyle. Armaan’s home is a true reflection of a Westwood Lifestyle.

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A contemporary style inspired by European elements and a design aesthetic that blends modern furniture and accessories with eclecticism and allows for an expression of individuality.

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While the basic interior framework focused on elements like flooring in Italian marble with inlay patterns, wood doors with bevelled glass panel insets and false ceiling panels with faux finish highlights, it was in furniture and décor that the Westwood synergy began to take shape.

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The grand hallway leads to a spacious living and dining room with a spectacular leather sectional sofa imported from Europe.

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The sofas were crafted using the best raw materials with high tech manufacturing unlike the handcrafted variety that is the norm in India.

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The palette was to be neutral to highlight the spectacular backdrop of the golf course.

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Colour was introduced in small doses –just to add the needed amount of visual interest. Texture was used in wallpaper and furnishings.

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A door from the dining/lounge leads to the most spectacular room in the entire apartment. A lavish home theatre with leather upholstered panels on the walls. The recliners are now available at Westwood stores.

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The textured false ceiling is brought to full effect using lighting in cove panels. Interlined drapes and hardwood panelling further add to the acoustic elements that make for great viewing on a wide projector screen.

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Instead of a popcorn break, you can head to the bar adjoining the home theatre room and make yourself a nice cocktail.

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The bright red textured faux finish on the ceiling works well with the bar clad in high gloss PU faux leather and jazz up the room considerably.

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A great place for informal conversations and fun.

The four bedrooms in the house have been designed to suit the specific tastes of each occupant. The guest room is more like a hotel suite—designed for comfort but retaining simple elements of definition. Textured wallpaper and stencilling bring in added visual interest without detracting from the elegance of the room.

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The master bedroom occupied by Armaan’s parents is quite regal and has a moroccan inspired theme in a very modern setting. It only serves to highlight how various seemingly incongruous elements work well together and create an eclectic setting while retaining a contemporary framework.

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A combination of purple furnishings and gold damask wallpaper are offset by a dark wood floor and wall-to-wall cabinetry.

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Other than the chaise and the desk, which are family heirlooms, everything else has the Westwood stamp.

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Sanam’s room right across the hallway has a completely different décor. Subtle stencilled wallpaper with wall-to-wall wardrobes (in addition to a walk in closet at the other end) serves as a perfect foil to the dazzling red upholstered bed that is the main focus of the room. The newspaper print on the drapes complements the black leather recliner with a steel frame.

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The wall-to-wall unit facing the bed houses the media unit and all the various other items from books to accessories.

“The woodwork is all contemporary and simple. We have used wallpaper and furnishings as the major elements of pattern and colour, with textured ceilings in a few rooms. It is fairly eclectic as most Indian homes are and the same feature is found in the Westwood product range. Essentially,our Indian sensibilities merge with a European/international design perspective.”

“Our tufted upholstered headboards are quite the rage and enhance the luxury quotient of any room. “

“Minimalist cabinetry keeps the modern element alive while the glamorous golds and purples make for an opulent setting.”

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Armaan’s own room has a metallic grey faux finish on the walls and a suede-upholstered headboard.

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The furnishings have very contemporary colours but there is a Lloyd Loom wicker study chair that brings in texture and highlights the consistent use of contrasting elements in the home.

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He loves to play the guitar and wishes he would get more time to pursue this hobby. Like most people of his generation, he is a gizmo freak and gadgets fill every corner of his room. Sports are a passion but over the past couple of years almost all his time has been dedicated to Westwood, with leisure time being at a premium. But the journey has been worth it –“ I am happy that the concept has been received so favourably and that ignites my passion even more and drives me towards the next milestone”, he says.

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While his home was getting its final touches of expression, Westwood was being transformed from an idea to a viable enterprise. Shortly after the Siddiquis moved into their apartment in Aralias, Armaan was ready to launch Westwood. Initially, they focused on getting the back-end in place. They acquired all the inventories and streamlined the manufacturing capacity required for the venture-–both in India and Europe.

In 2010, almost three years after the first seed was sown in Armaan’s mind, Westwood opened the doors of its first retail outlet in Gurgaon.

The general perception was that this would be a high-end retailer catering to a niche market. Armaan swiftly wiped away any such misconception by announcing that while the product selection would have a focus on niche design and maintain the highest standards of quality and workmanship with a view to keeping luxury as its core, Westwood was targeting a wide market that extended well beyond a small percentage of the affluent. He saw no reason why such a lifestyle should be beyond the reach of an urban professional, and countered the argument that there would be a limited market. “The Indian consumer is seeking the best products available, and while they are price conscious there is a growing awareness that value needs to be assessed in terms of quality as well”, he says.

There is one other aspect on which there is no ambiguity. There would be no piecemeal solutions. Westwood intended to be a one-stop solution for home living and Armaan made sure that every product required to set up a home was available to the consumer under one roof. This led to tie-ups with many companies for products where Westwood or its parent company had no interest in fabrication. Each aspect was looked into with great diligence in an effort to deliver lifestyle solutions to a discerning clientele. There was no haphazard sourcing but rather Armaan went to great lengths to find elements of synchronicity between the various brands that would form part of Westwood.

Moving away from big brands, Armaan consciously decided to focus on tie-ups with brands in Europe that are known for their design and a high level of skill in craftsmanship. He wanted to bring these ‘boutique brands’ to the Indian consumer, realizing that there was an excess of mass reproduction in the Indian home décor market. At the same time, he wanted it to be on a price platform that was within the reach of the upper middle-class, whereas most high-end design in India catered to a very limited but affluent segment of society. Bach and Flitzroy showcased their creations in glass, Sfero came on board with lamps and accessories, Arte Viva brought in handcrafted tableware and the Red Carpet Company laid out the red carpet in rugs. This was just the beginning of brand associations that would become a part of the Westwood universe.

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Today, they also have an in-house design studio with cutting edge technology and early this year the second store opened its doors in Delhi. Soon, Westwood would bring its products to other cities and towns in India. The desire to explore the boundaries of retail, redefine them and bring the consumer an experience that would be compelling and enduring is what keeps Armaan’s brain ticking at a furious pace. He sets himself targets that seem unrealistic to many, but to him each step forward has to be a leap—of faith and action.” If I don’t churn innovation and enterprise, growth will just be a remote possibility”, he says. It is perhaps such a spirit that will keep India-shining!