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Asymmetry And Asperity Play A Role In My Practicet4

Architecture and design are now being taken more seriously. A lot of that has to do with the fact that people are more aware of interdisciplinary design practices.

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Architect and designer, Ashiesh Shah, shares his design philosophy in a free flowing chat with BW Businessworld’s Jyotsna Sharma. He also talks of the trends in design, especially in India. Excerpts:

What attracted you to the Japanese philosophy of  Wabi -Sabi as an inspiration for design? 
My work has evolved over the years and with it, my philosophy on aesthetics. My approach draws inspiration from my belief in the aesthetic philosophy of Wabi-Sabi which is derived from Buddhist teachings, primarily because of the balance it exudes. Thus, asymmetry and asperity play a major role in my practice. I appreciate spaces that incorporate natural objects and processes and I try to maintain this principle in my own practice. Nothing is permanent, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. 

Could you tell us about the collaboration between Ashiesh Shah Architecture + Design and Rahul Mehrotra of RMA Architects for the Jubilee Hills project? 
Working with Rahul Mehrotra was an interesting experience. It was a collaboration of aesthetics and sophistication. Both, the interior space and architecture seamlessly blended into one another. We realised early on that we were on the same wavelength with respect to our work and aesthetics.

In the Jubilee Hills residence, RMA’s architecture is so clear that there was no need to put a single blind or curtain on the ground floor. The sun never enters the space directly; it’s just beautiful light flushing the space. All in all, there was respect for each other’s domains that resulted in a wonderful working relationship. 

Globally what are the current trends in architecture and design? 
Globally, handmade products, be it handicraft or custom pieces of furniture are trending in the field of design. People are gearing towards natural materials/processes, be it through textiles or finishes in the interior space. An increased focus on custom goods brings forth a language of angularity through every spatial experience that 2020 sees. 

India targets creating 10 billion square feet of green buildings by 2022. What can be the enablers of  this target? 
Today, both homeowners and architects are very aware of sustainable materials and practices. ‘Up-cycle and recycle’ is the new mantra and designers are coming up with innovative new technologies to achieve this. Sustainability and vernacular technologies, concerns of ecology and built forms are becoming more important in both architecture and design in general and I believe that India is currently on the cusp of a design revolution. Not only has this increased understanding of green buildings affected the way a space is constructed and designed, but it’s far reaching effects can also be seen in the smallest elements in a space – be it a light, a piece of furniture or even textiles and fabric. 

Which architect were you most inspired by? 
I’ve seen some amazing work in the past year by both Indian designers and internationally – Fabien Cappello, Formafantasma, Gesa Hansen, Nicolas Le Moigne and Lee Broom to name a few. In addition to these architects, Corbusier has been a constant inspiration through my practice and his buildings in Chandigarh inspired an entire collection of rugs through a recent collaboration called ‘Chand LC.’ 

What challenges are peculiar to India? 
The change that I observed in India, in the way people engage with design and architecture, has been gradual, but definitive. When I moved back to Mumbai from New York in 2006, I was disappointed by the way interior design was perceived here. There was, much to my dismay, a tendency to dismiss it as being relatively inconsequential. I believe that stemmed more from a lack of awareness about the relevance and significance of interior design in the way it can affect people at a very elemental level, than just a superfluous showcase. 

Today however, I can say that this is no longer the case. Architecture and design are now being taken more seriously. A lot of  that has to do with the fact that people are more aware of interdisciplinary design practices, and open to engaging with and cultivating their own distinctive tastes and preferences. 

In design, does aesthetics supersede functionality?  

I think this depends on the homeowner and what they need from their space. I strongly believe that design and aesthetics go hand in hand. 


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