Bored of city life, design-loving duo Rashi and Rachita Singh packed up a suitcase of creativity, love for Fibonacci, and penchant for painting to set base in Himachal Pradesh. The result? A luxurious homestay amid lush greens of Koro. The sisters tell us more. By Bayar Jain
1. Tell us about Koro Nest and how it came into being.
A short trip to the mountains made us fall in love with the place. We started out just to build our own house but ended up making multiple apartments, instead. We poured all our love and knowledge for design into Koro Nest and washed the residue of city life with the holiday homes.
2. What were some of the challenges you had to overcome while setting up this space?
The valley took us by surprise. Cutting the mountain and then gradually supporting the rest was a task in itself. This space, which was supposed to be only one apartment ended up being a multi-floored building. Since the labour here isn’t skilled but enthusiastic, it became a learning experience for both ends. We had to be present at the site for the desired design; the execution had to be monitored and taught; and all the materials—from tiles to paints, wooden planks to fabrics, furniture to rugs—had to be sourced from Delhi. The unpredictable weather was yet another challenge. Snowy days or sometimes even sudden downpours would further push deadlines.
3. How did you deal with creative differences during the process?
It was fun as a family of four was designing and creating the whole project. Our father, Inder Pal Singh, being an architect himself, raised us with a vision to explore the spectrum of design. He taught us all the technical details and the patience that comes along with designing. Largely, we all agreed on certain things. For the others, we would just ‘break it till you make it.’ We allocated different spaces for each of us and treated one apartment as our own playground. This resulted in every room and corner being different from the rest of the building.
4. What sets Koro Nest apart from the other properties in the region?
We wanted to bring to life a storybook-like cosy mountain home perched upon a valley. We are most proud of the emotion this holiday home evokes. While designing, Rachita’s first words to me [Rashi] were “let’s experiment.”
Koro Nest is a space that translates into an experience. From the facade to when you enter into The Nest—the design aesthetics focus on creating a sense of adventure, joy and excitement. Not only does this space stand out architecturally, but it respects and intermingles with the surrounding nature, too.
5. Your favourite design element in the house?
Our entertainment area, The Nest, is undoubtedly our favourite design element. It has been exhilarating how a conversation and an idea on a train journey to the site led to a sketch and finally, execution. We wanted to recreate the experience of being in nature’s womb, and we knew that the Fibonacci spiral would be the inspiration behind the design process. As the sketches were brought to the site, the contractors were hesitant at first, but they eventually decided to give it a go. Girder (mild steel beams) and the contractor’s spirit worked like a charm! Finished in pinewood from the inside and hand-cut cement sheets on the outside, our Nest was born. We wanted it to be visually poetic and radical in design—a surprise for the eye in Koro Valley.
6. How did you weave sustainability in your designs?
Since we were making our project in the mountains, we wanted to make sure we used elements that are sustainable. We’ve extensively used sustainable materials like bamboo and bamboo mats for the ceiling and used jute and cane for lighting. We’ve reused tables by painting them and 40-year-old frames and candle stands for the decor.
7. How do you ensure COVID-19 safety protocols at Koro Nest?
As it’s a new site, we are ensuring that labourers and workers wear masks and sanitise regularly. We also conduct temperature checks. We ensure that not more than two or three workers are together. Currently, the project is nearing completion. All necessary COVID-19 protocols shall be followed [once completed].
8. What are some of your favourite places to visit near the property?
Being right in the lap of nature, there are trails to trek and endless stretches of green. Also, Bon Monastery, the Kasauli Brewery, Mohan Shakti National Heritage Park, Karol Tibba are interesting.
9. Your favourite and least favourite aspects of living in the mountains?
Favourites: the ever-changing clouds and the sunsets. You feel like you’re one with nature enjoying the play of the universe. The wind rushing through the pine forest is a treat for the ears and eyes—it’s soul-cleansing to the point that we can say there has not been a single dull day in our six months of living in the hills.
There are two kinds of people: beach people and mountain people. We have been biased towards mountain life since childhood, so it’s hard for us to pick our least favourite aspects about it.
10. According to you, how can one be more mindful when visiting the mountains?
We believe in conscious travel, especially in times like these. Firstly follow all necessary precautions and COVID-19 protocols. Be extremely cautious of water and waste. Anyone visiting should always keep in mind to blend in with the locals and respect their ways of living. Respecting the neighbourhood is key.
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on COVID-19 for all the latest travel guidelines.