Founded in 1999, studio archohm has journeyed and evolved into one of the leading architectural practices in the country and has achieved it by virtue of sheer passion and perseverance.
Sourabh Gupta, the founder and principal architect of the studio firmly believes in designing climatically and contextually relevant solutions. archohm, in these past fifteen years has carved a distinct identity for architecture and design, and their commitment towards the field reflects in each venture undertaken by the firm. archohm offers solutions in various interdisciplinary fields like urban design, landscape, interior design and product design and has a competent core team to see it through.
The theory of integrating sustainable principles with apt vocabulary of materials, whilst marrying lineal practices with contemporary, purist architecture is distinctly visible in their extensive body of work.
Driven by the compelling passion for the field of design the firm has made headway in several allied mediums through its ventures and initiatives. They celebrate multifaceted forms and origins of design through initiatives like zolijns, design factory india, the design village and gomaads.
In this interview, Sourabh shares with us his views and vision for design and architecture in India.
Over the past 15 years, archohm has steadily excelled in providing multi-faceted design services. Tell us about the journey so far…
I perceive that life for me has been a process of continuous evolution and learning. Graduating from the school of architecture at Ahmedabad, CEPT gave me the necessary skill set to pursue a career in architecture and design.
My passion towards this field and my understanding of design matured from my exposure at Bouwkunde, the highly acclaimed design school at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. This introduction to an international school of thought at an impressionable age was invaluable.
This is where I got addicted to exploring architecture and its allied formats. With this as my background, and after subsequently winning many competitions, I established archohm. Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of the diverse typologies and scale of works undertaken.
Apart from constantly evolving, it has boldly ventured into allied domains of design as furniture and product design, infrastructure and urban solutions, education and publications. Yet, as it was envisioned, it is a design practice with a focus purely on design.
What according to you is the foundation of good design?
Functionality, aesthetics and a narrative.
Typically, an architect’s inspirations and inclinations define his signature style. Is there a particular school of thought that you endorse or believe in?
archohm’s design philosophy has been one that creates a dialogue of pure functional forms exaggerated by the use of individual materials. This interesting co-existence and conversation of various materials is utilised in all our projects to create responsive and responsible architecture that is climatically and contextually relevant. The aesthetic that architecture in India today follows is either modern, indigenous or just contemporary, irrespective of the Indian reference and its context.
In such a scenario, archohm’s design projects strive to embrace the evolving Indian-contemporary mindset, in materiality and functionality. archohm therefore, stands for a young, mad and fun approach to spatiality, which enables a play of light, volumes and materials.
archohm is a multi-disciplinary firm that dabbles in varied design fields which require equally diverse design approaches. How do you keep a check on technical and creative aspects without getting carried away?
archohm is a design studio offering consultancy for architecture, urban design, interiors, landscape and product design, working across diverse scales – from products and furniture to residential, institutional and urban projects.
We have a fairly 2D organisation structure, which is democratic in many ways because of the ‘design’ nature of the practice.
I personally lead all design discussions that evolve out of closely held brainstorming sessions. Thereafter, team leaders handle projects, a mix of architects, interior designers and technical people to facilitate an interesting inter-disciplinary flavour that helps evolve innovative solutions. Project heads take the responsibility, from client interaction to communications and delivery.
A separate creative crew adds value to the process through a monthly newsletter, collateral books and novel product designs with the help of the graphic design team.
Specialists on design and engineering are brought on board through multiple workshops keeping in line with the archohm philosophy.
Your quest for experimentation is evident in your different projects, initiatives and the various arenas of design you have worked in. What drives you to risk venturing into new territories?
I think it is exciting and challenging to be working across the gamut with design as a focus. A good designer should be able to design anything. Multi-disciplinary, cross cultural knowledge exchanges fuel the mind and keep one updated.
What are your views on the current design scene in India and what aspect of it would you like to change?
Majority of the design in India either apes the West or is absolutely rooted in traditional nostalgia. Designers have a responsibility to reflect the times in which they live. It is essential to define the Indian contemporary – India today.
An architect/ designer whose work continues to inspire you…
Le Corbusier. It is hard to put in words why Corbusier inspires me. Being a master of modern architecture, fundamentally, it is his ability to reduce a building to the simplest elements without making it simplistic. Because of his unapologetic, functional and aesthetic gestures that incorporate the basic use of materials in their purest and raw forms.
The space volumes he created with light and architecture that are able to give a sense of seeming contradiction – evoking humility and monumentality simultaneously.
The symbolism of colour used on bare surfaces to enhance and explain programmatic needs of spaces, the harmony in the roughness and near-brutality in finishes that almost betray some empathy in their structure and the sculpted flavour that interrupts the sanctity of the geometry defined Corbusier’s work. His internationalisation, cultural explorations, books, furniture – everything serves as an encouragement to me, as an architect.
Tell us something about your various initiatives and ventures – design factory india, the design village, zolijns and gomaads…
Stemming from archohm, various design initiatives have sprung out – the design village (an interdisciplinary design institute), design factory india (a design consulting with young designers), zolijns (an international lifestyle boutique) and gomaads (a product design label) – are all introduced to enhance the design quotient of the country.
What are you currently working on? What goals have you set for the firm in the coming years?
We are doing a lot of public projects, right from city planning to city branding. Several cultural institutions, hospitals and housing projects are underway.
What do you do in your spare time? Any other interests?
I read a lot especially about design, and travel for experiencing architecture/design.
Interview by Shweta Salvi