Founded in 2012 by Huzefa Rangwala and Jasem Pirani, MuseLAB in just five years has become a practice to watch out for. Their mutual passion for design encourages them to also explore allied design fields and experiment and research extensively to deliver holistic experiential solutions.
Their work is context-oriented and is strongly driven by the project brief. MuseLAB provides bespoke end-to-end solutions that make you appreciate even the smallest detail. They believe the power of detailing is often understated and a lot can be achieved by putting in due effort and time required in conceptualising these details.
Their individual quirks reflect in the innovation and creativity applied in their work – whether a furniture piece or an entire residential project, each has an indelible stamp of uniqueness. These details become highlights of their projects – for example, the perforated metal panel with its strategically placed punctures filters in natural light in their Prabhadevi office or the bespoke embroidered cross-stitch wood panel in a boutique designed by them.
Recently, through MuseMART the studio has developed products that narrate purpose with style. Their latest product line will be launched in July this year. We decided to pick the brains of this talented duo that is changing the design world one space, one product, and one concept at a time.
What led to MuseLAB and what are its core fundamentals?
Friendship, a common love for food, humour and everything design along with a life-changing trip to Mexico is essentially what led to the birth of MuseLAB. Here, every challenge is treated as an opportunity which is given careful thought and consideration. The project brief is our guiding principle – it is our source of motivation and inspiration. We use both intuitive and traditional methods of analysis to identify the tangible and the intangible. The emerging patterns or results help us tell a story.
By a systematic process of conceptualisation, schematic design and design development, our aim is to provide pure and focused experiential design to the user. We are an end-to-end design studio, offering a bespoke and leading-edge approach to design with a precise focus on unique and highly customised environments, interiors and furniture. Each space or product embodies integrity and is created with the same care, skill and attention to detail.
MuseLAB engages in exhaustive R&D, what part of the process do you enjoy the most?
Ours is a collaborative practice both within and without. As Directors, we ensure that designs conceptualised by us are evolved within the studio through creative discourses with the entire team. For us, the opinion of every individual in the studio counts and each viewpoint is considered.
Outside the studio, we extend our collaborations to our vendors and fabricators. Our projects involve extensive research and development with resourceful individuals who are as excited about adding value to the project as we are.
We also encourage our clients to engage with us in the design process in some cases, we collaborate with them too. For instance, the craftsmen employed by a boutique we designed, helped us create the cross-stitched wool work on perforated bison board panels that donned the walls.
What according to you is the most ignored aspect of design today?
For us, design is all about process and the power of details. It is more than easy to produce eye-catching 3D renders but at the same time, it is all about the process behind how these visuals are rationalised from the drawing board to the built form. At MuseLAB, we have always been excited about the finer elements of design, smaller parts which form the whole. It is the aspect of detailing that is almost always ignored and taken for granted in a project.
As a practice, we are extremely particular about the quality of work and the finishes we achieve in our projects. And this is only possible due to the endless studio hours spent on conceptualising the details on the drawing board and the innumerable working sessions with our contractors to materialise them into reality; all this to produce details which are not only aesthetical but also facilitate a longer shelf life for the project or the product.
Colour, form, and visual illusions often replace the presence of physical accessories in your projects. How important are these elements to your design?
Colour is like food for the spirit; it is neither addictive nor is it fattening. Every form is a base for colour and every colour is the characteristic of a form. And illusions create, augment, alter, expose and establish the mood of the space they are created for. These facets essentially become powerful elements of our designs, and are tactfully used to minimise accessories.
This approach has also helped us build our style which evolved from a simple premise – most of our clients are not art collectors. Hence, we compensate for the lack of art by creating it ourselves, by way of the architecture of the space itself.
Any material or technique which you haven’t explored as yet and would like to work with in the near future?
As a practice, we have explored several digital manufacturing techniques ranging from CNC milling to laser cutting, from water jet cutting to 3D printing. However, we would really like to probe with concrete. This material is a force to reckon with. It is probably one of the most beautiful materials in the unfinished forms and its’ potential is limitless.
However, if it had to be one material and technique combined, that we would like to explore, then it would most definitely be 3D printing with concrete using the Rudenko3D printer. This printer can print buildings; and as much as it is an exciting vision for the future, it is a myopic one too. But the scale that we would like to explore is that of products, interior and outdoor furniture and wall cladding tiles.
Can you tell us something about your brand MuseMART?
Our brand MuseMART, founded in 2016, aims at developing products with style, substance and a story.
Primarily, our focus is to retain the true characteristic of the material, to preserve the simplicity of the product and to ensuring minimal wastage during the building process.
Digitally manufactured and assembled by hand, these products are made out of Birchply, a material that we are passionately endorsing for our current product line. These include coasters with a holder and trivets with a serving tray, bespoke wall art for children and illustrations referenced to the work of reputed world architects.
We are aiming to launch architectural wall hooks, modular wine racks, tangrams and hangers for children, streetscape inspired note pads and keychains engraved with chair stories, all in Birchply, in the first week of July. The attributes of our collaborative model are being extended from MuseLAB to MuseMART.
Your favourite architect/designer amongst your contemporaries?
We thoroughly enjoy the work of Case Design, Vir Mueller Architects and Sameep Padora for their inimitable design styles and their distinctively remarkable understanding of detailing. Globally, the works of Bjarke Ingles Group and Matter Design Studio inspire us; we love what they are doing in integrating parametrics with research-based design for new age concepts, whilst simultaneously exercising digital methods and machineries to create sustainable methods of construction.
What are you currently working on?
2017 thus far has been a very exciting year for us at MuseLAB and we have been blessed with challenging projects that boast of diversity in terms of program, budgets, site conditions and geography too. Outside of Mumbai, we are currently working on a 7000 sqft luxury residential project in Pune, a shipping container box quick service concept restaurant in Coimbatore, a villa near Patiala and an office project in Bhilai.
In Mumbai, we are working on an organic juice bar and cafe, a flagship store for a fashion designer, an experience centre for a furnishing studio and the corporate headquarters for a global pharmaceutical company amongst others. Apart from these, we are also working on some interesting residential projects.
On a lighter note –
The must haves on your desk…
Jasem – Foreign Office Architects’ book Phylogenesis, plenty of knick knacks, a ‘real’ globe notebook from Rubberband and a ‘pretentious’ cup of green tea.
Huzefa – A miniature Sagrada Familia paperweight, the ghost of Bjarke Ingels, a ‘pretentious’ doodle book, and a ‘real’ cup of masala chai.
Things you do when away from your drawing boards…
Jasem – In the five years of our practice, we have realised that success is guaranteed when one stays away from the drawing board. Ours is a fun practice and we love to spoil our team with impromptu dinners, field trips to design stores in Bombay, attending shibori and/or 3D printing workshops, unfulfilled promises of Sunday Monsoon team treks and extended weekend breaks with the team to the Kochi Biennale.
That said, Huzefa travels vicariously through Google Earth, epitomises Andrew Zimmern, watches reruns of the Modern Family, brings the house down with his sense of humour and hopes to take a selfie with his idol Rafael Nadal soon.
On the other hand, I like planning getaways, bringing friends together over brunch, grabbing a cup of coffee at Kalaghoda Cafe and train for half-marathons hoping to one day run the half-marathon in Lisbon.
Interview By Shweta Salvi
Photo Credits Sameer Tawde