Confidence, consistency and hope are the keys to moving forward in an entrepreneurial career. The speaker of ArchGyan Podcast, Manish Paul Simon welcomed Varun Kapoor from +V Architects in Mumbai, a multifaceted firm, working on architecture, interiors, graphics and more. The podcast covers Varun’s passion and fascination for architecture and structures around him. He is an alumnus of Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi University. It helped him widen his horizons and understand different scales of design. Getting a few projects before graduating, he started concentrating on field projects to gain practical experience. The sign ‘+’ signifies the importance of the team. He shares his experience, where the design firm also has other facets like labour management, funds management and clientele management.

Youtube for Architects: Life of an Entrepreneur Architect in India with Varun Kapoor
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Varun Kapoor says, “Intelligence is cumulative, we learn as we go”. Hustling between working at a firm and then working on his projects, he finally took the plunge and started his firm. His base, Mumbai itself poses many challenges, including timeline and commercial challenges. Working around a defined budget sometimes was a sticky situation, but helps us understand how to fit our ideas in a cost-constrict. His initial projects included small projects like offices and interiors of salons. He worked on anything which came along his way. He learnt to say ‘no’ to certain projects, where he wouldn’t gain any input.

Having the right team while running your practice and designating tasks according to one’s attributes and skills is essential. The design philosophy of +V architects is for the design to be simple, to understand that fine line on the edge. The style is predominantly contemporary, but the client’s aesthetic is taken into account. He recalls “Form follows function”, going back and forth with the client to get a satisfactory result. Managing client’s requests could become a hassle, and communicating with them is mandatory. His favourite projects include the CrossHouse project, a modern contemporary farmhouse in the hills of Karjat Khopoli. It is two blocks kept on top of the hill, with a scenic panoramic view of the hills. The other project is The Campolian Resort also in the hills of Khopoli. 

Social media is an important tool for architects today to gain visibility and showcase projects. Since+V works pan India, it has become a necessity and to showcase your work and projects. Honing social media skills to make sure potential clients can reach +V since a website isn’t visited most of the time. Apart from design, +V participated in all scales of design, including landscape and urban. Keeping low margins and providing the best service possible is what they believe. Clients today are well informed about prices and choices and with high competition, therefore keeping low margins and providing the best service possible, minding the comfort of the client, is the most appropriate way to go. 

Varun Kapoor advises against establishing a firm immediately after graduation since lessons about hierarchy, functions and organisation can only be grasped when one works at a firm. The best way to go about would be to work under an inspiring architect who shares the same principles and beliefs as you. 

Developing time-management skills is crucial in a time-bound profession like architecture and interior design, where deadlines are everything. Time affects money, labour and many other aspects of construction. Sometimes, language poses a barrier to communication with human labour, therefore knowing the local language or having someone on your team who knows the local language is essential. An ample number of site visits must be planned by students and professionals alike, to get a grasp of practical experience. Designs aren’t supposed to be made behind a screen without knowing the real environment of the project. Projects are for humans after all. 

Vastu is an important aspect of the vernacular architecture of India. Clients no matter what the decade always looks for spaces designed according to Vastu rules. As Kapoor says, “Vastu does work as a science, but not as a business”. 

The types of software used keep evolving since a new set of skills is imbibed when a new team member joins the firm. There is much software in the market and without a team effort, keeping up with this evolution isn’t possible. The most used software is AutoCAD, SketchUp and Lumion.  BIM software like Revit is considered the future of architectural modelling. 

Architecture as a career is extremely tedious, leaving very little time and energy for personal interests and hobbies. Varun Kapoor discloses his passion for body-building. “The initial idea was to get healthier, and now it’s been sixteen years”. He considers it ‘his space’ to rewind once the day is over, disconnected from the world. Taking care of mental health is just as important since it helps clear up our thoughts and build up confidence. 

Varun then talks about his inspiration for workaholism from Elon Musk, not being fixated on technology. He drew upon architect Mies Van Der Rohe for his simplicity. It was a wholesome conversation indeed sharing thoughts and dreams, inspiring all us students and young professionals to aim higher. 

Author

Asmita Kothari is currently pursuing B.Arch at the School of Architecture, VIT University. She is an avid reader and a movie buff, who loves watching architectural and travel documentaries and shows. She believes that ambitious and curious souls make the world a better place.

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