Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas once said, “If you want to be relevant, you need to be open to an enormous multiplicity of values, interpretations, and readings.”
SAV, a multidisciplinary firm, led by Amita Kulkarni and Vikrant Tike, uphold this very ideology in their practice. Taking cues from their work experiences at world’s leading architectural practices like Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster and Partners, Amita and Vikrant have devised their own typology in architecture and design.
Just six years into practice, this international contemporary studio has created a wave in the design domain. Based out of London and Goa, the studio often adopts bio-mimicry in its work, which is efficiently supported by advanced technology and craftsmanship. By embracing the traditional techniques and collaborating with modern-age systems, SAV constantly strives to push the envelope.
With practices in two countries and projects spread across the globe, this young studio through its relentless study and research relays a unique narrative in their designs.
In this interview, they share their love for the ‘process’ of design and the challenges of working from two climatically and culturally diverse countries.
Every creative practice is triggered by an inspiration. What were the guiding rules that marked the inception of SAV?
Our designs are very much inspired from natural systems which have evolved over so many generations. Their combination of ordinary beauty, elegant tactility, experiential sublimity and meticulous efficiency shapes our work. Additionally, constant research and emphasis on innovative craftsmanship form the core of the studio philosophy.
With offices in two different countries, how do the design methodologies and work processes vary?
The construction processes in both countries vary greatly. In London, the emphasis is on standardising details as well as reducing labour costs. In India, its mainly about working around available materials and skills. Our constant emphasis on design as process recognises these different methods as well as the diverse contextual and climatic requirements in both countries.
SAV is a global studio, how much focus do you lend on creating a practice identity?
Amita: There is a lot of talk as a young studio on building on a brand identity. We believe our identity is shaped through the combination of our innovative design processes and constant engagement with diverse cultures. Being based in London and India we get to bring the best of these cultures together.
Vikrant: Exchanging and sharing local skills with global design insights bring a rich innovation and elegant sophistication within our creative process and our cross disciplinary design work.
With two talented architects at the helm of the firm, how do the brainstorming sessions play out and finally reflect in the work?
Our everyday work is an engaging and collaborative one. We view our studios as a lateral organisational structure with open plan office spaces, allowing everyone within the team to interact on a constant basis. Our creative sessions happen mainly during the open-ended discussions throughout the day as well as during lunchtimes when the entire team sits together over a communal lunch table.
Your practice emphasises on the process of design. How do the geographical and physical parameters, choice of materials, construction techniques and their application finally take shape on the drawing board?
Vikrant: The traditional notion of the master architect on a drawing board is an out-dated one. We believe in collaborative and innovative methods of design that reflect the 21st century way of working. We equally invest a lot of time on updating skills as well as on research and observations in a world that’s changing so rapidly.
Amita: As said before, considering the diverse locations of both of our studios we integrate a variety of design and construction techniques ranging from advanced computational programming to traditional crafts and joinery in our designs to create fluid working process that brings the best of the old and new practices.
Both of you are actively involved in academia and teaching. How has that helped your practice?
Vikrant: Being actively involved in academia reflects our constant desire to learn and innovate, what we teach enhances and refines our design methodologies, and our practice is a means to tie our academic research and design interests through our buildings and projects.
Amita: By collaborating with academia and specialist manufacturing workshops we are also able to draw in advanced skills like computational programming and rapid prototyping to create unique and innovative designs as well as sustainable and efficient construction processes.
Your pick of an Indian heritage structure that displays idiosyncratic construction techniques and has made an impression on you.
Amita: I particularly like the Bahai temple in Delhi, which I visited during my undergraduate school trip. The progressive cultural brief mixed with a complex but elegant structure that is inspired from nature emulates all that is possible in architecture within India.
Vikrant: I cannot pick a single structure; however, visiting the city of Ahmedabad recently left a deep impression on me. It’s a unique city combining its lineage of being a manufacturing hub, the older modernist building language of Le Corbusier, B V Doshi and Louis Kahn amalgamating seamlessly into the contemporary architecture that I happened to see all across the city.
Any current global architectural practice that inspires you?
We are inspired by BIG, Snohetta and WOHA architects. These global contemporary practices combine conceptually playful ideas with a strong emphasis on merging landscape and architecture. They also integrate innovative new fabrication methods with contextually relevant low-tech solutions through a strong rigour within the design process.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, we are working on a boutique masterplan in Siolim, Goa for four unique houses that merge with their landscape, both in form as well as function, and are due for completion early next year. We are also working on a large masterplan in Alibaug, office interiors in various Indian cities, private houses in London and few research based installations, and product design projects.
What immediate goals have you lined up for the practice?
Since we are currently based in India we are focusing a lot on the process of ‘making’. Our ongoing boutique architectural and interior projects are allowing us the opportunity to fabricate products using a wide variety of crafts and materials combining both traditional crafts with digital technology.
Things you do when away from your drawing boards…
Amita: When we started the studio six years ago we were totally immersed in it. Moving to Goa for a couple of years has brought me closer to nature and allows me to spend more time with my three year old son.
Vikrant: I love making and I love music. Having my own studio allows me to constantly fabricate things for work and for research, while equally giving time to make my own music. I also love cooking and that allows me to spend time with my family.
Interview By Shweta Salvi