It’s been long since Gagan hauled me in to co-author his blog. After months of lying back finally I sat down to write actually. I guess the first time you attempt writing what comes out is what is on your mind the most! What came out of my ‘search’ was a ‘ Design blah’. I’m an Architect. That should explain the torrent that will follow.
I run in circles inside my head (which I like to think, is where thoughts are processed). I tear myself apart with the thinking and analysing that I do. I figure that if I write about ‘it’, the gush of thoughts could have an outlet and peace might re-enter.
I'm very tempted to write about the design process that I'm involved in at present, for it is affirming some of my suspicions, contradicting some of my presumptions I had as a student, and taking me through a hurricane drive that I must admit I'm cherishing. I got my first large independent project. It's nothing like what I had expected. Why do we expect what we expect, I’m not sure.
I had assumed that one has to let go of all ‘dreamy’ aspirations that a design graduate lives with, and fall into the stream of ‘the market’. It turned out that the market is what I had misinterpreted. I had written off Indian entrepreneurs for their 'lack of vision ' when it comes to design, with the anticipation with which every designer mused, and had endless twilight discussions about, over a cup of chai, at NID.
I was living with the presumption that one has to turn commercially convenient / conveniently commercial, and take the regular route while trying to work independently. So, with very low expectations I accompanied my new client for the first time to the proposed site. I was to design the interiors and furniture customized for the office block of a manufacturing company. Who in India really bothers about the environment of a factory – accompanied office building! Really!
On the way, I filled him with colourful anecdotes and theories of how we in India lack vision, and how much we under estimate our capacity and needs, and how we miss out by not investing in the core areas, how we surrender our environments to very mediocre facilities. I enthusiastically told him that in Europe and in general in the West, industrialists aim to build a nurturing environment for their organization to grow in. They systematically plan their organisation's growth by investing in design thinking, and thereby generate huge returns and successfully project a desirable image, and the image in turn builds the market. In short I poured out my ‘vanity-propelled, but righteous’ typical design thoughts on how Indians should perceive their company’s growth, when it comes to creating the right kind of spaces.
In a matter of few hours I was to realize that I had underestimated His capability to dream; he belongs to the rare breed of experimentative gentlemen with a vision that is something out of the ordinary. I covered my initial surprise and fascination, and told him about my projection for his dream. He did not seem to say NO!
The designing part was as straightforward and entertaining as what we did at NID. That was part one. Now I am in the phase of executing it. I find myself going topsy turvy in my brain, looking for a space to lie down and snooze once in a while. Organising various teams and co-ordinating them, pushing them all to deliver on time, supplying adequate information on time, dealing with last minute disappearances of ‘I don’t know m’am, its not my fault’ – tell - tale carpenters and civil contractors, numb electricians who will not read a drawing and still manage to install points based on their… instincts (?), hiding my horror and fascination when the client innocently suggests new large additions to design, with cables dangling over my head, I've been running helter skelter, at the same time feeling grateful for a unique lesson! I guess the lesson was to not assume, or underestimate our country’s capacity.