lyth Design: Magic in Details

Apoorva Shetty, founder of Mumbai based lyth Design tells us about her journey, approach to design and plans for the future.  Text: Amrita Shah

Apoorva Shroff is the founder of lyth Design, a boutique architecture and interior design firm established in 2022. With a career spanning over two decades, Shroff was catapulted into the limelight with two projects – her own home in the Sahyadri hills, Airavat, which was nominated at the World Architecture Festival , and that of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit.

Airavaat, the sprawling house of Apoorva’s is located on the outskirts of bustling Mumbai, in the quiet of the Sahyadri hills. The sweeping views of the Western Ghats in almost any direction are the highlight of this otherwise simple parcel of land.

Lyth has recently completed expansive commercial projects for Supreme Builders, Jindal Poly Films, Prestige Group in Mumbai and SoftBank in San Francisco, as well as worked on a cost-effective solution for the Delhi-based NGO Central Square Foundation. Recently, Shroff was appointed as a member of the prestigious FRAME Awards and INDE Awards Jury panels of 2023. Her entry for the WADE Jury in 2023 earned a spot on the shortlist. We spoke with Shroff about her new endeavor.

The house of Bollywood diva, Madhuri Dixit, by lyth Designs.

SCALE: Establishing lyth Design was a pivotal move in your career. Could you elaborate?

Apoorva: My journey began at Cooper Robertson and Partners in New York, after which I served as partner at reD Architects for over 16 years. Stepping away from the comfort and familiarity of that position marked a significant turning point in my professional journey.

It was a bold move that carried inherent risks but was driven by a deep-seated belief in the potential for something extraordinary. Establishing lyth Design represented more than just a career shift; it was a commitment to my vision, design philosophy, and the pursuit of new challenges. The decision was not only about seeking professional fulfillment but also about realising the full extent of my capabilities as an architect. It pushed me to expand my horizons, embrace uncertainty, and chart a course that aligns more closely with my personal and professional aspirations.

The house of MaduriDixit, design by Lyth Designs.

We successfully positioned lyth Design in the competitive design landscape through a roster of noteworthy clients like actor Madhuri Dixit, SoftBank, Central Square Foundation, Prestige Group, and hotelier Aditi Duggar.

SCALE: Tell us about the significance of the name.

Apoorva: The word ‘lyth’ means joint, and like a joint that binds and supports movement, the ideology at lyth is to link and bring the world together with design.

The capturing and framing of the picturesque landscapes of Sahyadiri was the primary inspiration behind the design of Apoorva’s house.

SCALE: How have you evolved as a designer?

Apoorva: My evolution as a designer has been profoundly influenced by my personal journey and the transformative experiences I’ve encountered along the way. Originating from a background characterised by simplicity, I was fortunate to be nurtured in an environment that encouraged dreaming. In the early years, ambition beyond contentment and comfort was a concept not commonly associated with my upbringing. My aspirations mirrored the simplicity of my background. However, as I progressed through the corridors of Kamla Raheja Vidhyanidhi Institute for Architecture & Environmental Studies KRVIA, Mumbai, and later at UCLA, my exploration of the dynamic world of design prompted me to step out of the warmth of my cocoon.

This exposure marked a pivotal moment in my growth as a designer, expanding my aspirations beyond their initial constraints. The challenges encountered on this journey, far from deterring me, only served to fortify my determination.

Each obstacle became a stepping stone, propelling me forward and reinforcing the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. This evolution has left an indelible mark on my identity as a designer. I’ve learned the vital lesson of pushing boundaries and embracing new possibilities. My design philosophy has transformed to reflect a commitment to exploration, innovation, and the continuous pursuit of excellence. Every project becomes an opportunity to apply these principles, with a dynamic and impactful approach to design.

The disruptive architecture manages to create spaces of varying scales from monumental to cozy while it integrates the nature into it.

SCALE:What has been your favorite project over the years?

Apoorva: Without a doubt, my favorite project over the years has been the creation of my own home Airavat which brings together stunning landscape and disruptive architecture.

The Airavat.

The primary design goal for Airavat was to capture and frame the breathtaking natural surroundings while blurring the boundaries between the interior spaces and the landscape. The project addressed basic infrastructural challenges posed by the difficult terrain by creating a series of levels in response to the ground slope. Material variability was a key aspect we considered, responding to the function of each block and lending a unique visual identity to each space. Glass and steel characterise the public areas, while slate stone defines the private spaces, both anchored into the concrete spine.

Interiors of SoftBank.

SCALE: What type of project excites you?

Apoorva: The non-conventional kind! I find excitement in projects that push the boundaries of design. Size is not a determining factor for me; whether it’s a small-scale interior or a larger architectural endeavor, what truly captures my interest is the potential for innovation and creativity within the project brief.

The Prestige Gorup office by lyth Designs.

SCALE What is lyth’s approach to design?

Apoorva: Design for me is a form of storytelling, where each decision holds purpose and thoughtfulness. This intentional approach has become a signature attribute of lyth Design, reflecting my belief that design must convey a narrative. As the leader of this “lyth-chapter,” I seamlessly integrate elegance, functionality, and a profound understanding of user experience.

The goal is to create designs that are not only visually captivating but also inspire and resonate with those who interact with them. The magic is in the details. This philosophy is at the core of my studio’s workings, extending beyond execution to encompass various aspects of design, including detailed client interactions, a thorough understanding of their design aspirations, and meticulous articulation in planning.

Design of Prestige Group office.

 SCALE: What have you got coming up / what can we see from you over the next year?

Apoorva: Continuing on the trajectory of exploratory design, lyth Design is poised to embark on captivating ventures, including the design of Madhuri Dixit’s new home, a holiday home perched on top of the mountain hills of Lombok, Indonesia, a sustainable bamboo pavilion, and several high-end residential and commercial projects that promise to push the boundaries of creativity and sophistication.

Photographs: courtesy lyth Design