Studio Mumbai was founded in 1995 by Bijoy Jain, and it has a unique appearance on the architectural scene, not only in India but worldwide. The studio is comprised of artisans, carpenters, masons, artists, and of course architects, and because their approach is more hands-on oriented rather than computer-based. Bijoy calls his studio “art practice” and not just any architecture studio. Also, he has done his schooling abroad, at the Washington University in St Louis, USA, working at Richard Meier’s offices in Los Angeles and then in London, between 189 and 1995, before founding his practice. This exposure was of tremendous help, giving him and through him the studio, a western vibe, nonetheless filtered through an Indian mind and heart.

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The Oxymoron of Studio Mumbai | Bijoy Jain

The name of the practice consists of two terms that one might assume are contradicting each other. Because “studio” makes one think of an “atelier”, an environment where things are processed at a slow pace, while Mumbai is a hectic metropolis. However, this is not the only paradigm, as their entire oeuvre; from the smallest scale to the largest, allusions both the western culture and the Indian one. The studio thus results in being a thought-provoking mixture of them both. They stand out from the crowd by their subtle manner in which they integrate their projects into the landscape, paying attention to the environment, understanding in a broader way, the materiality and the social impact it has for the future users.

“By surrounding ourselves with everything we might need to produce quality buildings and objects, we’ve made the Alibaug studio into a place where we’re able to develop ideas and begin to understand the world around us. Carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, architects, and engineers work together, cohabiting in the same space; they are committed to designing and producing a form of architecture that goes beyond its limits. Objects are born and multiply in this workplace, but there are also prototypes in the open air, large drawings on the walls, and tests covering the tables… This iterative and constantly changing environment is where our ideas are explored, drafted and constructed.” Bijoy Jain

Variety of Projects

They are mostly known for their small scale projects; private residences in India, but they also participated at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, with the installation “Work-Place”, they designed the MPavilion 2016 in Melbourne, Australia (the equivalent of the Serpentine Pavilion in London, United Kingdom), and currently they are involved in projects in various cities in the world: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Nice in France, Zürich in Switzerland and Florence in Italy.

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“My interest lies primarily in doing what I do, with care. As an architect, the way you imagine opening a door, developing a chair, designing the texture of a wall or a floor, is very important. It’s about quality, about the consideration you apply to the making of something. And it’s about being attentive to the environment, the materials, and the inhabitants. It has to be inclusive.” Bijoy Jain

Exhibitions by Studio Mumbai

“Between the Sun and the Moon: Studio Mumbai” is an exhibition held at Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2016, dedicated to the extremes at which the Indian practice operates. Between Europe and U.S.A and India, between rural and urban, between tradition and contemporary. These are all realities that live within the same office and produce impressive results, precisely by the contextual or humble approach, instilled by its founder, Bijoy Jain. The exhibition was meant to give an insight into the “The Construction Laboratory”, showcasing all sorts of materials, models, and prototypes, for everyone curious about the practice’s modus operandi.

It is in this area of tension between tradition-bound building practice, on one hand, and craftsmanship and architectural design, on the other, that Studio Mumbai raises the fundamental question of what modern, contemporary architecture can also look like and how we can experience it. Their response shows us that we in the West may have overlooked the fact that something very old and ‘natural’ can easily live in, and together with what is new and contemporary – and that we need it! That we need contact with the earth, nature, the material, the hand – and craftsmanship.” says Kent Martinussen, CEO of the Danish Architecture Center.

The design gallery MANIERA, founded in 2014 in Brussels, Belgium appoints architects like artists to design pieces of furniture and objects of use, to test and challenge the limits of creativity, the results being objects at the frontiers of architecture, design, and art. In 2019 Studio Mumbai presents the second furniture line for MANIERA gallery, the first one being showcased in 2015. Now, they exhibit 22 works, none of them being specific to India, or their studio, as the architect himself states. “Each piece incorporates universal skills and distills them down to fundamentals. Anyone could make them since they require no glues or power tools.” Apart from the techniques, the materials used are very special and have a more subtle meaning, symbolizing the contrast between tradition and contemporary: stone, brick, bamboo, textiles, metal, lime and paper.

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Honors | Bijoy Jain

Now, his furniture is admired in some of the most important museums in the world, across 3 continents: MAAS, in Sydney, Australia, LACMA, in Los Angeles, U.S.A, SFMOMA, San Francisco, U.S.A (Brick Study III bench, 2016) or Pompidou, in Paris, France (Brick Study II, 2011). Their excellence has been recognized with various distinctions worldwide, such as Global Award in Sustainable Architecture (2009), Design for Asia Award from the Hong Kong Design Center, 2009, BSI Swiss Architecture Award (2012), Grande Medaille d’Or from the Academie D’Architecture, Paris, France (2014). Bijoy Jain is currently a Lecturer at Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, in Switzerland, while his practice is involved in various projects and accepts new commissions only unrestricted by time and with the liberty to appoint local craftsmen.

Author

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

London

Ana Mirea is a Riba Part II Architectural Assistant and Ph.D. student, based in London. She has graduated from the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, and now she undertakes a research based Ph.D. in the field of neuroarchitecture, with a thesis titled The Influence of the Built Environment from Childhood on the Brain.

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