Organic Materials and Retro Design in a Suburban Home

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Organic materials and retro design elements define this beautiful home in a quiet Karachi suburb. The home of Sajid and Shanila Dadabhoy takes inspiration from the natural environment to create a calming ambience. Water, lush foliage and warm, earthy tones and textures come together harmoniously in this tranquil living space. Retro furnnishings and rustic, folksy accessories add a distinctive edge.

Sajid Dadabhoy is also the owner of Pith, a furniture and accessories shop, and one can see the same aesthetic reflected in his retail line as well.

The homeowners welcomed us into their understated yet elegant abode and Sajid answered our questions about his house and his shop Pith.

Your home is surrounded by greenery.

Yes. This style of architecture; unpainted cement walls, lots of wood, stone … it needs greenery to bring it alive. Not necessarily grass, grass is a luxury, but I have planted a lot of trees. We have fruit trees, flowering bushes and trees. I chose plants and trees which add colour and perfume.

This home is built on three levels?

Yes. Actually the lower level is the basement level but it opens into an open courtyard space so it doesn’t have a basement feel. We have a gym in the basement and other rooms as well.

These striking stone walls are a design element used throughout the home. Whose idea was that?

Organic Materials Retro Design

That was the architect, Khadija tul Kubra. The idea was to use the gizri stone which was unearthed while digging the foundations of the house. We ended up using some of that stone but a lot of the stone was later bought because of some logistical issues. Each block of stone was cut and arranged under the careful supervision of the architect who had a specific look and pattern in mind.

You have a lovely patio. Do you use it often?

Yes. We kept our indoor living space quite small but it opens into the outside which is useful when we entertain.

The swimming pool sits like a jewel in your outdoor space.

Well, we all love the water. The pool was our only real indulgence in the home. My children use it a lot and when they have friends over they also use the pool and outdoor patio space.

This beautiful swing is from your shop Pith?

Yes. I like the idea of a traditional jhoola. My traditional family home had these long balconies or kotlas or baramdas. And they had swings suspended from the ceiling for people to lounge on. So I was inspired by that.

Tell us about your shop Pith. How was it born?

organic materials retro design

Pith came into existence about six years ago. I already had an established textile business which had become more system driven. So I had some time.

The shop was born out of my personal need to find furniture I liked when I was building this house. We were already importing material for the construction boom in the country at that time. Then we started importing furniture. The first thing I got were Ames chairs from China,

So you had an eye for furniture?

Organic Materials Retro Design

Apparently I did, but it popped open very late. (laughs) I like old things, different things. This two-seater is from my Dada’s house. It is a mid century, modern Danish design piece.

organic materials retro design
Sajid Dadabhoy at home

But Pith is much more than a furniture shop now.

Yes . I realized that my shop lacked accessories and I started looking for small businesses which would fill that gap. Initially, I wasn’t much good at this and I ended up doing accessories like trays and cushions myself.

Organic Materials Retro Design

Organic Materials Retro Design

You have a line of cushions and trays which feature your beautiful photography.

Yes. That was my wife’s idea.

Shanila: As a photography enthusiast, he had thousands of photographs stored in the computer but nobody would see them. So I told him to start putting them on cushions and trays. We even did a line of scarves and shirts for a while.

Tell us more about how Pith evolved.

So as we started doing accessories we soon realized that the most popular items featured Pakistani themes. In furniture I like Swati design a lot and we started promoting that. We began focusing on local craft and small entrepreneurs. Pith is now a very eclectic space where you can find well designed local craft as well as modern accessories and organic products.

Organic Materials Retro Design

Somewhere along the way it evolved into a space for small businesses and we have so many people approaching us now. I don’t like to discourage anyone but have to turn some away. I have one basic criteria: I won’t stock the handicrafts I can find in Zainab Market. We are looking for traditional craft which has a contemporary edge, updated for a modern market.

As mentioned earlier, you are a photography enthusiast. Tell us about Aaj Ka Random.

I was always fond of photography and used to use my uncle’s camera as a boy. I even developed my own films and later took some courses in college. But over the years I gave it up. I really got into photography again with the advent of camera phones and I started posting pictures on my personal Facebook page with the caption Aaj Ka Random.

It was just for my friends. But the idea caught on and it became a separate group of amateur photographers from all over the world.

You now hold regular exhibitions.

Yes, We now have some a few thousand members and have held four exhibitions. We also conduct photography walks and its a great chance for women in particular to explore the city which they would not have done alone.

The idea was that amateur photographers share an image that appealed to them and it may resonate with someone else. And that’s how friendships and connections have been formed and a small community has built up.

Photography by Naeema Kapadia

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