What inspires you to create?
Everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary – a sensation, a conversation, an image, a material, a drawing, sculpture and the client of course. My creative process is a mix between the experimentally whimsical and the highly structured. My process of design varies from project to project, becoming more conservative or explorative as required by the context.
Who are your inspirations?
My stream of consciousness answer: Gaudi, Art Nouveau, Pedro Almodovar, Shiamak Davar, Kumar Birla, Ratan Tata and Steve Jobs. Also graffiti artists, self immersed trade workers, passionate people and talented performers. My inspiration comes from creators of the unthinkable, the novel and the inspired – those that say it can be done, selfless individuals, great friends and family – not necessarily in that order.
Which is your favourite city and building, and who is your favourite architect?
If I said “Mumbai York” would that count? Seriously though, the Woolworth and Chrysler buildings are my most admired. Amongst architects, I have several: Brunelleschi, Lutyens, Wright, Norman Foster, Herzog & DeMeuron etc., but a clear favorite would be William van Allen. In India my favorite buildings are Kanchenjunga by Charles Correa and the Aditya Birla Science & Technology center in Taloja, Navi Mumbai.
Who is your favourite artist?
Robert Rauschenberg. In India, it is my friend and emerging tour de force, Apnavi Thakkar (I think I have one of her best works).
What is the one thing you enjoy most about doing what you do?
The antithesis of talking about it. To resonate Nike’s slogan – just ‘doing’ it!
What are you working on currently?
My studio – it is perhaps the most challenging and immersive project that I am working on at the moment. There are also residential works in South Mumbai and residential and hospitality projects in New York that are keeping me busy. I’m also finishing works for Raveena Tandon and Anil Thadani’s office, post completion of their house.
You have studied and worked in the US, and now have worked here for sometime. What’s different?
The differences are largely cultural and based on the ethos of the two places. I think the practice of seeing unique design as a valuable commodity – as is common abroad, and now increasingly emerging here. In India, we still need to be reminded of how to respect design and allow its due process. Take a global example – Apple’s unwavering approach to design resulted in unparalleled commercial profitability. Architecture and interiors too have long-term commercial collateral value but we need to see it more clearly. Another big difference I see in the Indian “ethos” is an arbitrary discrimination between local and international talent. We feel the need to somehow pay a hundred times more to a designer abroad, but will not advance the same sort of remuneration to equal talent here.
How do your clients here differ from the ones from America?
Clients are all different and I only concern myself with what any client from anywhere brings to the table in a brief. On a lighter note, you will never hear a client in India suing a designer for specifying the wrong shade of paint; under of the cause of “severe emotional distress.”
You are creating an interesting workspace for yourself in a Mumbai suburb. How would you define it?
Although I was born and bought up in South Mumbai, I find the North/South divide in our city to be completely over-hyped. Couple that with a requirement of an artistic showroom/work space for clients to experience our ideas. We were lucky to find a space that met aspects of that search. My workspace goal is to attract talent and create an emotional bonding – a transparent showroom of sorts that in reverse, allows clients to see design at work. An unpretentious organic think-tank of changes, if you will – spilling from room to room, engaging in volume and concept. I made a conscious departure to not engage a commercial vocabulary and pre-conceived notions of a final product – focusing on a boutique feel, straddling contemporary and classic cues, textures, materials and colours. I want this diverse workspace we have to represent the diverse portfolio of work we have done.
If you were granted a wish to create a dream building, where and what would it be?
I’m quite obsessed with towers and “wuthering” heights – so it would have to be that – and one in which people vertically socialize and interact differently. One likened to the Rand-ian objective of happiness and achievement in a physical form. Location is less important than creative intent.