A changing world requires a changed outlook. It is no wonder that India is the land of impeccable architecture and exquisite culture, but the architects of a developing country require a developing thought process. It is in the hands of young architects to bring a change and build a new design scenario that enables a country to succeed.
Listed below are 10 such designers, who are reimaging architecture in the Indian context.
1. Andblack, Ahmedabad
As a design firm conceptualized and led by two brilliant architects, Kanika and Jwalant Mahadevwala, Andblack works in the field of architecture, interiors, furniture design and even website design by making use of their profound knowledge and talent in the use of parametric tools. After completing their post-graduation in London from Architectural Association, Jwalant and Kanika learned from Zaha Hadid Architects and Michael Hopkins, respectively for four years and then moved to Ahmedabad to make a difference in the field of architecture by implementing their innovative designs. Andblack prefers to draw its inspiration from the world around us and the various interactions within nature. Their designers like to stretch and expand the limits of materials in unconventional ways by creating forms and spaces that are contemporary and not conventional, all the while maintaining the material’s structural and visual qualities. Experimenting, prototyping and developing systematic systems are their tools in producing the design solutions. In words of Jwalant Mahadevwala himself, he wants to ‘design spaces and not design places.’
2. Architecture Brio, Mumbai
Established in 2006 by Shefali Balwani of CEPT-Ahmedabad and Robert Verrijt of TU Delft – Netherlands, Architecture Brio focuses on building contextually-aware and sustainable designs over a diverse range of scale. With its principal’s philosophies arising from two very diverse cultures, the exemplary firm works towards the exploration of natural materials, technological innovations and eco-friendly solutions. They describe one of their stream-side residential projects in Alibag as an organism that utilizes its resources and context with its two parts, visualized as its limbs. According to the architects, “Each “limb” makes full use of the views within the site and dramatizes special moments: a beautiful tree or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains”. Another one of their projects, a yoga retreat in the foothills of Himalayas, is designed as part of the terraced landscape, whose ribbon-like form retains the natural landscape and boulders underneath, with its roof carved out like an extended plane. In 2015, Architecture Brio started another initiative, called the bB Studio, in collaboration with the billion bricks NGO that works in the niche of humanitarian architecture, and works with local communities towards the goal of eradicating homelessness.
3. Busride, Mumbai
An independent design studio, established in 2006 by brothers Ayaz and Zameer Basrai, an industrial designer and an architect, respectively, works on the motto of “fake homes create fake people”. As a multi-disciplinary firm working in the field of hospitality, institutional entertainment, exhibition and film environments, Busride looks at out-of-the-box solutions for its client briefs. The Folly House in Pune, designed for a family of young entrepreneurs, is created on the odd brief of ‘make mistakes. The resultant design is a composition of multifunctional and mobile elements that lets the young family play with the space. “Since the nature of each object is different, the house remains unpredictable and new relationships between everyday home objects are constantly discovered. Chance and unpredictability create follies. Follies are objects in a garden of no particular purpose. Follies are also mistakes”; the innovative designers say.
4. Compartment S4, Ahmedabad
A collaboration of eight creative and visionary minds, Compartment S4 is a well worked out assemblage that focuses on the betterment of our existing environment by impactful interventions and the use of local resources. Their objective is to create spaces with maximum usability and minimal wastage by a systemic approach towards the design that is not bound by any contextual limitations. Having a wide range of expertise in various departments like architecture, interior design, urban development and furniture design, the young firm also focuses on creative hands-on workshops. Aptly called the ‘Hand-Made Workshop’, with its motto of ‘learn by doing’, the venture is a step towards the organization’s intention of being environmentally safe by using local materials like adobe blocks, natural teak wood and cane. One of the end results; a hostel in Khadki, thus acts as an impactful intervention in a rural, community-based area. For a relatively new firm which is functioning for the past two years, it is a wonderful approach towards generating valuable designs for the current environment and also for making their mark in the design field.
5. Design Ni Dukaan, Ahmedabad
An unconventional and unorthodox practice led by Ar. Veeram Shah, ‘Design Ni Dukaan’ is a collective of young people who consider design to be a means of breaking barriers between art and our living perceptions. Functioning as an interior and furniture design firm for the past seven years, ‘Design Ni Dukaan’ started from scratch with Shah’s initial work in his hometown where he documented his father’s antique collection and focused on few, but impactful projects. He strongly believes that ‘architecture can only be learned hands-on’ and derives his inspiration from the iconic works of Carlo Scarpa and Le Corbusier while paying extensive attention to details. Today, the firm draws inspiration from everything in their vicinity. Be it art, music, movies or observing the mundane, the team’s ideology is ‘we do not define design by scale’. Incorporating a Le Corbusier’s painting in a three-dimensional form of a table, or applying the design of the door of Chandigarh’s Assembly Building in a cabinet’s detail are all examples of further accentuating this notion. They also work towards exploring materiality in different contexts and relations.
6. FADD Studio, Bangalore
Established in 2012 by Farah Ahmed and Dhaval Shellugar in Bangalore, FADD Studio works towards the development of new ideas, new concepts and as the name suggests, new fads. With a portfolio ranging from residential to commercial and hospitality projects, the studio functions on the philosophy of revisiting and reinterpreting traditional design trends in a contemporary fashion. One such example of their exemplary work is the ‘Misu Restaurant’ in Bangalore, an Asian eatery that defies its typical identity characterized by red lighting, cane furniture and dragon murals, but brings forward a Romanesque feel instead. Defined by a set of copper mesh arches and columns, the one-of-a-kind restaurant uses abstract and geometric forms to add an element of drama to the otherwise luxe space. The principal duo of FADD Studio believes in working outside of their comfort zone, by defying any singular or trademark styles and by focusing on achieving uniqueness in every project.
7. Mindspace Architects, Bangalore
As a design firm built on the philosophy of using light as a building material, Mindspace Architects challenges the notion of traditional techniques of space planning and derives its designs from the perception of our five senses. Established in 2004, the architecture firm is presently led by Sanjay Mohe, Medappa, Suryanarayanan, Amit Swain and Swetha and works with a multi-disciplinary team of 21 architects, engineers and other supporting staff. Founder Sanjay Mohe believes that our sub-conscious memories and senses have a strong emotional connection that enables us to perceive architectural spaces in a certain way at a certain time. As architects, the minds at work in this extra-ordinary firm try to utilize this theory and derive solutions based on context and elements of nature. They think of architecture and landscape as one element and try to create porous buildings for nature to flourish in. “Architecture should play to all the senses. We can engineer the measurable but it is the immeasurable components that determine the way people react to a space”, says Mohe.
8. Rooshad Shroff, Mumbai
Originally established as an architectural practice in 2011 by Rooshad Shroff, the multi-disciplinary studio is now one of the most renowned names of Mumbai’s design landscape. A master at combining the nuances of contemporary design with traditional Indian crafts, Shroff visualizes his studio as a practice dedicated towards the experimentation and re-imagination of the ‘art of handmade’, through his wide range of bespoke furniture and products. Apart from bringing limelight and generating jobs for the various craftsmen and artisans of India, Shroff also works towards the upliftment of underprivileged kids of the country. He launched ‘The Gyan Project’ two years ago, a non-profit initiative in collaboration with Citta Foundation, to generate domestic funds for ‘The Rajkumari Ratnavati School’, a girl’s education center in Jaisalmer. The Project invited twelve exemplary designers, including B.V. Doshi, Christian Louboutin, Bijoy Jain and Sabyasachi to submit their ideas for a series of 120 ornamental marble plates, which were realized by a team of ten artisans from Agra. “The idea was to see how different designers, architects and artists interpret the same craft, and in turn create employment for the crafts-persons,” said Shroff.
9. Studio Lagom, Surat
Envisioned in 2011 by Hardik Shah, Studio Lagom works on the notion that form is not only meant for the following function, but also for crafting spaces for lifestyles to thrive in. The firm follows its design process rigorously and works in accordance with nature and context. One such project, ‘The Skewed House’ is an experiment to declutter excess in terms of form and materiality. Designed as a series of interconnected vistas, the building elements are placed a little off-axis to add deeper perspectives and dimensions. The practice tries to challenge the traditional perception of materials and uses them in a minimal format in accordance with the above-mentioned lifestyle. In Shah’s own words, “At our studio, caring is the culture. We believe that each building demands care, because each building is unique by way of its users, setting, function, and more.”
10. Workshop Inc., Ahmedabad
As a design firm established in 2014, Workshop Inc. in Ahmedabad is the collaborative effort of architects Keta and Varun Shah, working in the field of interior and exhibition architecture, graphic design and styling. The firm’s ideology is to produce rational and holistic spatial designs by working around a central or a core idea and thus, lending a narrative to each of their designs. Their cross-disciplinary working style when merged with their philosophy allows them to integrate space, art and graphics which ultimately creates a small story in each space. One of their projects that highlights this outlook towards design is the ‘Project Café’ in Ahmedabad, designed as a fresh and dynamic space whose furniture and artwork is for sale. Consequently, a very strong language is created that utilizes its white walls and ceilings as a neutral canvas for these changing pieces. The furniture and the art end up lending the place a pop of bright colors and their altering doesn’t let the space become boring. For this project, the designers at Workshop Inc collaborated with various other artists and chose the smallest details like cutlery, tablecloths and linens which complements the ‘raw and stripped down’ design language. The minds at work in Workshop Inc strive to provide the simplest of solutions for their narratives. Each project is dealt with a certain amount of sensitivity keeping in mind the user psyche and reaction. The stories in their designs invoke comfort and relaxation and end up giving a unique character to the firm’s work.