November 28 2022
A Homecoming in Hyderabad
November 28 2022
A Homecoming in Hyderabad
At Freedom Tree, when nest with a new design store in a new city, we see it as a homecoming. We absorb the spirit of the city as we bring our bold and relaxed style of living to each unique place. In Goa, we nestled in a converted Portugese-style villa home with expansive rooms and a nostalgic architecture. In the gritty heart of industrial Mumbai, our Mahalaxmi store stands in a buzzing former textile mill between auto garages and bespoke boutiques.
We absorb the spirit of the city as we bring our bold and relaxed style of living to each unique place.
When we opened our Bengaluru location, the store entrance was reoriented through the coconut room of the house, adjacent to a tiny garage. We converted a decades-old family home into a modern showpiece that retains the spirit and soul of a happy home.
The new Freedom Tree store in Hyderabad ceaselessly follows this tradition. Opening out the bulwark walls to a terrace of a house on the lush slopes of Jubilee Hills. A shot at a space, that was a dark dank stone cavern. Now it is a welcoming exhibit gallery, washed in natural light and integrated with the design studio’s joyous collections.
Integrating Two Spaces
With our Hyderabad Store, we took on navigating two very different spaces into a cohesive experience. A windowless add-on foyer, which in past years was a gym and office space, would now be the entrance and to the exhibit gallery. A traditional Hyderabadi home unfolds behind the space with a strong historical identity that would need to be preserved yet coaxed into a modern story.
The anchoring principles of what we need to look like as a design brand when we find a Freedom ‘house’ remain the core. The mood is always friendly and fresh, entering a creative friend’s space. Here in Hyderabad, we looked to craft the area as an exhibit gallery and working design space.
A Design Journey
Our core Design team of product and space designers was involved in the conceptualization and renovation from the start. Intimately familiar with our product categories, stories, and design vision, they are able to craft the space to achieve that vision. Sometimes it’s just very intuitive.
Flow and layout are of paramount importance: what will the entrance experience feel like, what are your “wow” areas, transition spaces, areas that can be used for smaller category displays, or endearing corners that make people fall in love with the artisanal product. Quiet spaces for consultation and deeper advisory. The final finishing touch at the reception desk, while waiting for billing, and leaving the store.
Every stage in the customer journey must be thought through and addressed in the physical space.
Light and scale also guide a lot of decisions. Larger well lit rooms can showcase bigger products and looks, or be sectioned off with larger furniture or fabrics to create mystery and interest. Smaller nooks with natural light make for great planter and ceramics display areas. When you enter the store in Hyderabad, you are greeted by a large space where the eye moves naturally towards the right, and towards the far wall, where - naturally - we have placed our latest textile collection.
As a color brand, color plays a key role in helping us guide through our visuals and experience. We maintain a harmonious color palette with previous collections, obsess over things like the color of shelves, and plan room-wise looks by color collection.
An Architectural Story
We kept much of the space raw and unfinished as a way to show the journey of the space through its many lifetimes. Poured concrete flooring gives way to re-polished marble from the original home. Unfinished beams are left exposed while the original wooden french doors and frames are whitewashed. We eschew skirting in most rooms, and coyly reveal the industrial red beams and brick that are the bones of the place.
As you walk through the space, it gives a feeling of being unfinished, in motion, and real. You can literally see how the space came together in varying stages, and every little corner contains a delightful moment of surprise as you see old and new sit so comfortably together. The other benefit of a raw and contemporary finish is it allows the collections and products to take center stage. And finally, it’s often one of the most cost effective ways to create a big impact.
One of the great joys of this project was that our designers got to work hand in hand with master craftsmen: masons, metal workers, and finishers.
Their knowledge of material, technique, and yes - structural engineering - created a delightful interplay of ideas and serendipity in the final days of work on site. Engineering shelving on exposed brick walls, fabricating and installing custom facades and airy glass windows, whimsically natural and textured wall finishes and moldings. Our Textile designers were so inspired, they got into the action too by drawing murals featuring some of our floral prints!
It doesn’t come together without weeks and months of careful planning and coordination that involves literally everyone at Freedom Tree at some point in the process!
We begin with multiple rounds of merchandise planning. How much revenue do we expect the store to make? How many products and categories will be needed to achieve these goals. What will be the Design Opus of this store, how will it uniquely reflect the space and city? What kind of shelving will we need, both custom, and (heh-heh) off the shelf. Detailed stock lists are drawn up, every square foot of the store is mapped for category display or an “in-life” display in a room or corner setting.
Weeks beforehand, we start to pack available stocks. There’s a mountain of furniture, textiles, ceramics, and decor. Most of it breakable, all of it voluminous! Each and every box is carefully cataloged, and assigned to a specific room and shelf. Our design team even created print-outs with pictures of all the collections for each box so that packers and loaders at every point could quickly understand the contents and which room to put it in, without needing to read.
Each truckload that was packed and dispatched from our central warehouse in Mumbai had to be sequenced by category, with bigger furniture arriving first, and soft textiles that could catch dust easily were sent at the last. Everything had to be secured, and covered with dust protectors as an active site takes days to settle the dust even after all the work is done.
you can visit our store at Jubilee Hills, Film Nagar.
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All Hands on Deck
T-Minus 10 days
To “soft opening” it is literally all hands on deck. All the main civil work, painting, and electrical is complete, and the first shipment of product is due to arrive. Teams from all over the company arrive in two shifts over the 10 days: designers, merchandisers, production managers, store teams, and warehouse staff. We work alongside the construction and craftsmen to finish the last civil work, electricals, and major interventions. The carpenters and painters will be here for a few days yet.
T-Minus 5 days.
2 trucks have dropped off their cargo from Mumbai. Most of the furniture has been placed in its correct position (covered with dust protectors) and most of the boxes of ceramics and decor have been placed and begun to be unpacked. A couple of days later, the dust has settled and it’s time to bring out more textiles. A hectic push for the last few days. Each display takes much longer than one would think to set-up - hats off to our store teams that keep each unit of stock counted, folded, and displayed as well as they do every day!
In the final days
There’s a million things to do to get the store ready. There’s still carpenters and painters around! Stocking and inventory that needs to be completed. A whole bunch of extra material that needs to be scrapped or sent back. Computers, internet, speakers, appliances, last minute hiring, local promotions, collaterals, bank accounts, compliances. It only comes together with team work and everyone’s combined effort, living and working side by side for these two weeks.
A Neighborly Home Store
We are the Happy Home Store, and we love happy neighborhoods. Wherever we nest, we stay for a long time, as a quiet and welcome addition to the area. In Sangolda and Mahalaxmi, we’ve seen the areas transform around us over the years, attracting more businesses and residents to a growing community.
In Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Bandra, we nestle off main street, a destination for locals and those from across town alike. We are a ‘down the lane’ design destination, which may soon be coming to a quiet street near you.