A mosaic ceiling created by MuseLAB for a home in Coimbatore
Ishita Sitwala
Design 21 Jun 2024 4 MIN

Ceiling art is the interior trend we need to make happen

It’s time to unleash your inner Michelangelo

If I had to review jeweller Sunita Shekhawat’s new Museum of Meenakari Heritage in one sentence, it would be “Come for the jewellery, stay for the vibe.” Not that the enamelled artefacts on display at this 2,200sq-ft space in Jaipur are anything short of stunning, but what really make the experience come alive are the architecture and spatial design, by Studio Lotus and Siddhartha Das Studio, which make you feel like you’re immersed in the Meenakari tradition.  

Take, for example, the experiential store a level below the museum gallery, which houses four stunning ‘pods’ for by-appointment client meetings. Clad in off-white lime stucco with monochromatic furnishings, the pods were designed by Shekhawat herself, in collaboration with CraftCanvas. Look up and you see the focal point of design has shifted from the walls and floors to a semi-vaulted ceiling featuring a hand-painted Rajasthani miniature-style mural. The frescoes showcase the variety of local crafts—and scenes from nature—that have influenced Meenakari over the years. “Each mural intricately weaves the vibrant threads of Rajasthan’s cultural tapestry, capturing the essence of the timeless traditions and profound beauty that defines our heritage,” says Shekhawat of the unusual overhead design element.  

The result is a space that is cosy and welcoming, and at the same time, endlessly fascinating to simply stare at.  

I was reminded of another haveli-turned-cultural-immersion project, also in Rajasthan, by Lake Pichola in Udaipur.

Ambrai, a restaurant at Amet Haveli, has a similar effect on visitors, delicately weaving cultural motifs into the very fabric of its architecture, including the ceilings. In one section, designer Noorein Kapoor has fitted a rippled stainless-steel sheet onto the ceiling so it reflects—figuratively—the water of the adjacent lake. In another section, the Mumbai-based interior designer literally turns the idea of a floor rug on its head, by fixing a colourful Jaipur Rugs dhurrie onto the ceiling. It’s uncanny how much warmer, more immersive and complete a space can feel, thanks to this simple trick.

Ornamental, elaborate, and Instagrammable to say the least, ceiling art is now becoming shorthand for statement rooms. It’s no wonder then, that architects have started to slowly bring the trend homewards. “When you are looking at ceilings, typically people only think about fans and lights, at most they paint it a colour,” shares interior architect Sarah Sham of Essajees Atelier, who recently outfitted the ceiling of a walk-in wardrobe with custom cherry-blossom-inspired wallpaper from Ankita Arya, which serves as a nice backdrop to a sculptural black-and-crystal chandelier. “But if you add a design element to a ceiling, it really makes the space come alive—it’s a very surprising touch.”

Architects have also been getting creative with material treatments up there. In the pool and adjacent lounge area of a Coimbatore home, MuseLAB created a seamless 75ft-long vaulted ceiling with a mosaic of piccolo tiles—it’s so contemporary, but somehow still gives secret cellar in Mediterranean castle. Architect Nishita Kamdar kept it relatively simple in her design for a Mumbai apartment. Inspired by Art Deco, she placed a labyrinthine mural in monochrome, custom-painted by Bengaluru-based artist Priyanka Thaker of House of Berserk. And then there’s The Orange Lane’s Shabnam Gupta, who took the material-as-décor route for Kangana Ranaut’s Manali residence, The Mountain House, where she constructed a ceiling from recycled timber wood. Long story short, there’s no right or wrong way to dress up your ceilings; there is only a blank canvas waiting to become a mini Sistine Chapel in its own right. Yes, it is very extra. But that’s no reason to not go for it.