When one turns a major drawback of a material into its most highlighted facet, it can sometimes lead to unbelievable outcomes. Stone is one such material that architects and designers are shy to use or employ it for fixed uses due to its weight and ineptness to be shaped to the desired proportions easily.
Headquartered in Noida, with their branches spread out in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Dubai, Odyssey explores this limitedly used material as a design and architectural element in multifarious projects, installations and products. Odyssey doesn’t believe in restricting the versatility of this indigenous material and has been working with different types of stone for the past nine years. As Founder Ruchika adds, “The ability to understand and re-imagine an extremely hard material to work with is our USP.”
India being one of the major exporters of natural stone, there is no dearth of the procurement of the raw material for Odyssey, which mostly uses Indian stone but also imports stone for specific project-related requirements.
Founder Ruchika Grover was involved in her father’s business of transacting granite and marble blocks and accompanied him to quarries and stone processing units all around the world. This is where she gained the knowledge and hands-on experience which ultimately became the stepping stone to Odyssey.
After completing her post-graduation in Entrepreneurship from University of Nottingham, UK, she sowed the seeds of Odyssey in 2007 for enhancing the status of stone to a better proposition and exploring options for value addition to stone in India.
Backed with her father’s experience of over 20 years in the stone industry, Odyssey emerged as the ideal partner for large residential, hospitality and commercial projects developed in collaboration with architects and designers all over the world.
Odyssey is more than just about beautiful installations. Ruchika shares, “When one thinks about stone in architecture and design, you think of the typical Rajasthani patterns and floral inlays. This however is a very limited perspective on stone and its application. There are hundreds of varieties of stone available in India and abroad, with different varieties suited to different environments and purposes. Odyssey brings this understanding of stone to the customer.”
Odyssey’s journey to this stage has been eventful as they are keen to deliver something novel and not-seen-before. Ruchika says, “Odyssey has evolved simply with a vision to be able to deliver something innovative to the industry. We are constantly ‘work-in-progress”’; eager to create, to surprise and to learn. It’s very important for us to innovate and not be bored in the process and work on repetitive projects. The model we are steering towards brings both design and business together beautifully.”
Odyssey has a retail collection for vertical surfaces, which can be customised. These include Crosta, Kinetic, Breathing Surfaces, Ishi Kiri, Aqueous and Foliage (soon to be launched). Crosta is a modular repetitive format; each panel is unique and customised to the dimensions of a project. Kinetic offers a tectonic surface as each panel appears to be in motion and is customised to varying levels of turbulence – mild, moderate, high. Breathing Surfaces takes inspiration from nature and Islamic art and is a form of parametric design.
The Ishi Kiri collection is inspired by origami and is intended to be utilised for surfaces, sculptures and cascades. Ishi Kiri can be manipulated for extraordinary results because they have the option of creating backlit and front lit walls using white marble. Both the Ishi Kiri and Kinetic collections were finalists at the Surface Design Award 2015 in London, while holding the distinction of being the sole company in the world to have two of its designs shortlisted. Their latest collections – Aqueous and Foliage – are very organic; being inspired by natural forms.
Ruchika, who currently heads the design development and marketing initiatives for the company takes inspiration from her travels and surroundings. The stone they frequently use are marble, granite, sandstone, quartzite and travertine but also experiment with agglomerated marble, metal and wood.
When processes are increasingly moving towards digitisation, Odyssey isn’t behind on the trend. Ruchika says, “Technology plays a huge role in our design development and manufacturing process. We are equipped with 45 CNC milling machines and two water jet units, besides the block cutting, tilling, processing and polishing units. We are undertaking digital fabrication through 3-axis and 5-axis CNC milling machines, water jets, etc. All our products are modelled on Rhino and 3dMax.”
They also employ skilled artisans, mostly from Rajasthan, who then complete all the finishing, inlay and installation work. Due to the level of intricacy involved, the material being used, its size and thickness and ultimately the scope of the project, it’s difficult to adjudge the time taken to see the final product. So it can take either a month of work on large amounts of stone or over two months for a single slab; there’s no standard time.
Odyssey has an impressive repertoire of projects such as the Indira Gandhi International Airport (Terminal 3), Ritz Carlton, Bengaluru and Hyatt Regency, Pune where it worked on the hardscape and water features and has executed the Bio-Diversity Park in Hyderabad and Torana Gate in Malaysia.
Stone is a vastly abundant raw material available in India, and it’s time we appreciate its beauty and the marvels it can offer. Odyssey has taken a step in this direction and is creating gorgeous outcomes.
Text By Rehana Hussain