Moroccan, Persian, Indian, and French Empire influences mix and match in the bold home of entrepreneur Krishna Gupta.
Success came early for Krishna Gupta. In 2008, while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he founded Remus Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund of which he is currently the CEO. Having extensively traveled around Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and America, Gupta has built a business across 25 countries. Originally from India, Gupta lives in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the East Coast of the United States. There, he fell in love with a Second Empire home – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – located across the Charles River from Boston.
Designed in 1865 by William R. Jones from the entrepreneurial family of C.L. Jones & Co., who produced and exported soaps and candles to South America, this property is a landmark in the area. Reminiscent of the past, a photo of the home taken by Walker Evans around 1930 sits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Spread over 540sqm, the house comprises six bedrooms and four bathrooms, along with several reception spaces that were all transformed by interior designer Sashya Thind. “Krishna had some pretty audacious ideas and thought my Indian background (as his) along with my usually minimalist aesthetic would balance them out,” remembers Thind, who practiced unadulterated maximalism with this project. “He wanted me to create a palatial experience.” To achieve this, the interior designer masterfully combined visual references from different cultures, resulting in bold spaces characterized by a sense of magnificence. “The name of the home, Manmaison, is a play on my hero Napoleon’s countryside Château de Malmaison in France,” says Gupta. “It is a combination of the Hindi/ Urdu ‘man’ and the French ‘home.’”
In every nook, maximalism reigns in a surprising mix and match of influences: the Rambagh Palace and Rajmahal for India; Napoleonic grandeur for France; Nasir al-Mulk and Shah Cheragh for Persia; and Ben Youssef Madrasa and Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II for Morocco. “These are cultures that have left an indelible mark on my life, both in terms of their accomplishment and for the heights of artistic, culinary, and cultural tradition that [they] enabled and then promulgated globally,” says Gupta. The fusion of these sources of inspiration is visible throughout the colorful home dressed with velvets, silks, and rich wools, creating luxuriously tactile spaces. Thind opted for different paint colors and wallpapers to reflect the natural light.
“The project took two years, and I had to break out of my minimalist thinking to meet Krishna where he was,” confesses the interior designer. “I come from a culture where we embrace color, texture, and textile, and it drove the decision making. But there was a back and forth to push further and further.” Involved in every stage, Gupta shared his needs from the very beginning of the project. “Krishna was specific about wanting to entertain his friends, family, and business alliances within the home,” says Thind. “He is deeply inspired by Napoleon. Thus, we created a Napoleonic living room.” Graced by expressionist Josephine swan chairs procured from a mansion in the area, alongside Gupta’s childhood piano, the Salon de Napoléon – which was also inspired by a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, specifically the Blue Room – features silver Indian bowls from Old Delhi and a functional clock from the Napoleonic era made to commemorate his Egyptian campaign and sourced in an antique boutique in Paris.
Each of the two dining areas maintains its own aura. The formal Persian one is arranged like a throne room, with its cream-colored Platner chairs placed on a rare orange Sarouk Persian rug. A hand-carved Anglo-Indian credenza with intricate jali work borders the rug. Created in a Provence-style with a sunny yellow palette, the more casual breakfast room is an invitation to sit on the Thonet chairs surrounding a wooden table. Anchored by an antique Louis XIV table capped by Dionysus on each leg, the study reveals a green Persian Kerman rug that once belonged to a king in Rajasthan.
“Krishna spent considerable time with a Moroccan roommate and in the country, and he wanted to create a tearoom inspired by it,” says Thind. In this space, the divans mimic the height of Moroccan sedari (seating) and the depth of Indian ones. The exquisite ceiling mural was designed by Thind in collaboration with local artist Tasha Cough. It represents a peacock, a motif present in nearly every room of this home in some form, one beloved by many Eastern empires and a symbol of Krishna – the god of protection, compassion, and tenderness in Hinduism. This is paired with floating coffee tables, also designed by Thind and crafted from western Massachusetts wood by local craftsmen of Mark Brunke, completed by gold kintsugi. “My design narrative responds to the different architectural influences: palaces and mosques,” says Thind.
Several artworks, including Sleeping Prince by Lebanese/Bostonian painter Kahlil Gibran and Princess in Gold by Indian painter Arup Das in the Moroccan Salon – among other pieces – adorn the spaces where zellige tiles are also a work of art. “While they are increasingly popular in the United States, we had them specially designed and manufactured in Fez and Marrakech, and then shipped over to be installed alongside a 300-year-old door from Fez,” says Gupta. In addition to what is inside, the outdoor areas reflect a European plein-air feel. “The marble table on the edge of the lawn is meant to host gatherings in the spirit of a Sicilian summer and the patio adjacent to the Moroccan room is set up like a Parisian bistro,” describes Gupta. Imagined as a world of its own, this home is a majestic blend that honors meaningful traditions for its inhabitants. “It is a dream to be inspired by these cultures in my daily existence,” says Gupta.
Originally published in the May 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia