Le Mill, one of Mumbai’s multifunctional, lifestyle concept stores opened a few months back. Le Mill is housed in a former rice mill right in the middle of the city’s tenacious dock area covering 15,000 sq ft converted to a retail facility and is a clever adaptive reuse project which have been popular in Mumbai’s former mill sprawls. When old buildings become unsuitable for their programmatic intentions, as progress in technology, politics and economics restructures itself faster than the built environment, adaptive reuse comes in as a sustainable option for the reclamation of sites with more affordability.
Founders Cecilia Morelli Parikh, Julie Leymarie, Aurelie de Limlette, and Le Mill’s fashion consultant Anaita Shroff Adajania, were passionate about creating an atmosphere where customers will want to spend time and just hang out and browse through experience that is on the racks.
The store houses an expansive feel and finishes are neat and more towards rustic to less-finished textures, creating a very contemporary presence. By putting in an organic cafe, a flower shop and a book section, the owners hope to foster a laid-back social atmosphere without the pressure of amounting it to a retail obligation. Much appreciated.
Architect Ashiesh Shah who designed this space has stayed true to the original vision of the owners of it keeping it as a space where people can spend time without assumed restriction. He has played with levels, dividing and demarcating to create multiple sections. This allows the experience to be explorative in an unintentioned way. There are no rigid signages. You explore as you go and stumble on nooks and sections stocked with a variety of things illuminated by playful lighting. Serendipity!
Coming back to adaptive reuse, the designer has kept the structural additions to a minimum and maintained the rafters and high ceiling from the original space. The industrial feel is completed with exposed HVAC ducts and ceiling-hung light fixtures. It’s dramatic and we do away with an additional layer of false ceiling. Flooring is exposed concrete with just a hint of gloss with a semi-finished polish. Its uncompleteness makes a statement, a positive one.
The most striking feature of the store is the vivacious use of visual merchandising elements. Wire hung merchandise from the ceiling, lavishly spread in a whitewashed wall background, corrugated sheets, semi-finished wooden crates panels: put together they create drama with effective use of mood lighting. Le Mill makes for one of noteworthy mill rehab projects.
Mill conversion or rehab, a process whereby a usually historic mill or industrial factory building is restored or rehabilitated into another use, such as residential housing, retail shops, office, or a mix of these non-industrial elements, mixed-use type. These have been quite popular in Mumbai and these projects usually stretch in the central part of Mumbai, Lower Parel, where multiple abandoned mill sites still exist.