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Design touches you at a subliminal level, in so many infinitesimal ways – whether it is how snuggly your hand fits a cup, or how comfortable a chair seems. Design influences our thoughts, feelings and decisions. Simply put, good design is what formulates a positive experience. And it’s much, much beyond merely creating a good-looking entity.Space design is connected to the way we live, work and play. At a macro level, this includes how liveable a city or a community is, and at its most intimate scale, how good a room feels. In this feature, we look at, in no particular order, some of India’s young design studios that are crafting unique spatial experiences, putting the user firmly at the centre of the narrative while also being conscious of the environment, and not losing sight of the mantra, “Design matters”.Here’s a list of some of the country’s most exciting young practices across architecture and interior design:1LEAPINGFROG STUDIOBhyrav BR and Aatira L. ZachariasArchitects Bhyrav BR and Aatira L Zacharias’ first clients were themselves.Architects Bhyrav BR and Aatira L. Zacharias’ first clients were themselves, when they designed an 800-sq-ft home they had bought immediately after tying the knot. “Starting a practice of our own wasn’t something we ever wanted to do,” they declare. “We enjoyed the experience of working together, so a year later when someone approached us to do a project, we were really just chasing that feeling of pure joy.” Finding inspiration in diverse places – from movies and music to the works of Louis Kahn, Charles Correa and other younger practices – the duo says their Bengaluru-based studio remains honest to the brief and the clients. Which is perhaps why the 200-sq-ft eatery Quissa Khawani, fraught with constraints of square footage, budget and timelines, remains close to their heart. “In the end, that tiny space made a huge impact on every person who walked in. We were able to create a space which was as warm as the family cooking their age-old recipes behind the arched gabion wall.”ASLAM.SHAM ARCHITECTSAslam Karadan and Sham SalimAslam Karadan and Sham Salim’s Hidden House, seems to emerge from a heavily contoured siteKaradan and Salim had barely taken off their architectural training wheels when they established their eponymous independent practice to fulfil a “desire to be able to express ourselves through our work [and] the sheer satisfaction we found in achieving that.” The professional articulations of the 30-somethings’ endeavour is to occupy the middle ground between their core principles and the clients’ viewpoints. Not surprisingly, Tropical Modernism is the favourite genre of the duo who operates out of lush Kerala, and is invigorated by “anything and everything that pushes our boundaries,” just like the Hidden House, which seems to emerge from a heavily contoured site.JETSONSJeet SonejiJeet Soneji designs spaces keeping a pure material palette, textural tactility and impeccable quality in mind.”Create with passion,” is the credo 27-year-old Jeet Soneji holds close to his heart. Jetsons, which he founded in 2020 on the heels of a three-year stint with the prolific MuseLAB, made its debut with art installations and has now progressed to spaces marked by “a pure material palette, textural tactility and impeccable quality” – irrespective of scale. Soneji’s Curves, Concrete and Lines, a small 4BHK home, exemplifies these qualities beautifully. “The key idea in this curvy concrete apartment was to create a flow-through of diverse spaces of materials and furniture which complement each other in a minimalistic manner.” Soneji finds himself enthused by Bjarke Ingels of BIG as well as by Elon Musk – the former for his projects’ adaptability and a different approach to design, the latter for his dreams for the advancement of humanity. “Imagine what will happen if we combine their ideas and visions!”MYVN ARCHITECTElayaraja MayavanElayaraja Mayavan’s projects are at the crossroads of design philosophies and use contemporary tools.Mayavan’s oeuvre lies at the crossroads of fundamentals of design philosophies and processes and explorations of contemporary tools such as computational techniques. The ‘lines’ in his project Lines and Motion, for instance, are informed by memories of paddy fields near his village, and are articulated as an ethereal light installation composed of acrylic panels bearing a web of illuminated lines. He established MYVN Architecture in Bengaluru with a zeal to express himself and put these expressions into the world, but now “the intention is to expand and give room to others to be part of this journey,” says the admirer of Jean Nouvel and John Pawson’s strong vision and expression of art.THE ACT OF QUADPriyanka Itadkar & Falguni Bhatia”Our objective is to make every day a little less ordinary, through a free-thinking and experimental process,” say architects Priyanka Itadkar and Falguni Bhatia. “We aim to bring unexpected objects and environments into everyday lives.” The Act of Quad, which they established to fulfil their need for growth and exploration, believes that humans inherently find beauty in the ‘orderly disorder’ of nature. “Our approach is intuitive, playful and collaborative, one that manifests itself between being peculiar and unconventional.” Unconventional is indeed right. Their project, simply known as Mumbai Apartment, subverts the popular notion of a home by creating a sociopetal arrangement of overlapping spaces, layers of forms and volumes – serving more than just the intended function. “The layout,” say the admirers of architects Anupama Kundoo, Brinda Somaya and Chitra Vishwanath, “is adapted to cater to every family member, with multi-use objects and dynamic spaces encouraging a catalogue of unexpected activities.”UA DESIGNUmang GoswamiWhile practising modern architecture, Umang Goswami’s UA Design, is careful to not limit its design language to a particular style. “We are not the kind that hope to work only with clients who think like us. We love the challenge of collaborating with an unfamiliar mindset,” declares Goswami, with whom Daniel Libeskind and Balakrishna Doshi’s poetic spaces and integrity of geography and culture resonate deeply. A quintessential small-town, middle-class Indian, the 35-year-old alumnus of CEPT University has always questioned why affordable housing projects get a step-motherly treatment despite the best creative minds in the industry. “That’s why Rains is special. It is an attempt at quality community living, unlike luxury,” he says, emphasising that “design is for all.”UNTAGGauri Satam and Tejesh PatilunTAG – the name says it all. A design unfettered by stylistic slots, shaped only by considerations of brief, budget, climate and context. “For us, it is about how [a built-form] is experienced and inhabited by the users, and how gracefully it ages,” state Gauri Satam and Tejesh Patil, both alumni of Mumbai’s Sir JJ College of Architecture. The urge to work in the field of social architecture while also providing affordable luxury came as the impetus to establish an independent practice in 2015. Their first architectural project, Vrindavan, a modest 1,000-sq-ft retirement home remains a favourite. Nestled in a mango orchard, it is an indigenous, cost-effective abode, relatable to the human scale and rendered in locally available laterite. “This house is not about how it looks,” expound the architects who are energised by nature and vernacular building traditions, “but about what it overlooks and how it feels once you’re inside it.”ZERO ENERGY DESIGN (ZED) LABSachin Rastogi and Payal Seth RastogiMeasure, minimise, mitigate – these three Ms imbibed during his stint at internationally acclaimed, UK-based BDP, represent a life-designing moment for Sachin Rastogi. It sparked his passion for energy-efficient design – and ultimately culminated in ZED Lab which he co-helms with partner Payal Seth Rastogi. “With sustainability at the core of its design process, ZED Lab’s design approach is informed by a deep understanding and application of age-old bioclimatic wisdom, reinterpreted using cutting-edge computational tools such as parametric design,” says Sachin, who looks up to architects like Tadao Ando, Joseph Allen Stein and their natural response to architecture. ZED Lab’s work at St Andrews University, where the studio has built hostel facilities for students, is a case in point. While the facades are dominated by brick jaalis (one of the largest built in India), a porous skin through which the buildings breathe maintain a comfortable internal climate.MANOJ PATEL DESIGN STUDIOManoj PatelManoj Patel is enthused by climate-responsive architecture, traditional aesthetics, practices and local construction materials. But what sets him apart is his focus on clay roof tile which he explores to create innovative products and surface applications. These include architectural facades swathed in delicate zig-zags of tile edges; internal walls adorned with graphically placed tile-parts; vertical gardens reposing in cool earthen containers; and seating stools with textural details tile profiles. “In our quest for newer materials, we have lost sight of what we already have,” states the 33-year-old architect. “Clay roof tiles are sustainable, can be mass-produced and are available in beautiful profiles.” The recently completed Courtyard House uses terracotta tiles both externally – as warm, patterned, elevational insertions within painted facades – and internally, as a soaring courtyard wall whose textures are amplified by natural light.Click for more trending news

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