Ar. Ashish Kesurvala - SAK Designs

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  Feb. 28, 2015
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Architect: Ashish Kesurvala

Ar. Ashish Kesurvala is a renowned architect whose passion for design comes from his love for it. His design philosophy is deep and he personally tends to each of his creations, irrespective of the size of the project. His design can be seen not just in the houses that he creates, but in the furniture and interiors he designs, that synchronize with his work.

Here are some excerpts from my chat with him.

What inspires you to Design?
When you have a passion for designing,  you don’t need Inspiration, you simply have a thought in mind, you pick up a pencil and start sketching, it is as simple as breathing! When we decide to create something for betterment of human environment we simply get Inspired!

Please tell us something about your design philosophy.
I am not sure that we should call it design philosophy. It is just an approach. We at SAK, design a lot of custom designed houses, some corporate offices, some educational facilities, etc., so whenever we start a new project we always want the user to experience the environment in a way which uplifts their mood and changes their vision of life. Our approach is to create a better utility with aesthetics and changing the approach from conventional to new improved lifestyle or work style. When we design we tend to get carried away by standard approaches, instead we redefine their approach and in turn help them improve the standards. We do have to convince them for new approach but over the period same clients do thank us for bringing such pleasant change in their lifestyle due to new design approach of their environment. Modern is what we love and practice the same modern design.

Who and what Inspires you?
Again I will say that Passion is enough to inspire every one!  If you mean getting inspired by some people or their work, I personally like some designers' work, some designers' approach, and all that keeps us architects motivated in our journey of life. I admire works of Architect Geoffery Bawa, he has done amazing work which is very suitable for SriLanka.   Calatrava’s  approach in design is remarkable. There is one Architect from Italy, Mr Carlo Colombo who does wonderful work and whom I admire. Have met him and have invited him to work in India. There are several Architects in India and abroad whose work inspires a designer today but it is impossible to list all of them.  The new generation Architects have really created an environment which is very positive for creating and changing our habitat for the better.

How many projects have you worked on?
SAK Designs have been practicing for the last 17 years. We have done a large number of Private Houses and many other varities of projects like, restaurant, offices, industries, small retail, furniture design, exhibition designs, etc. In total we must have done more than 90 design projects so far.

You are known for your furniture Design as well. How did you learn furniture?
I don’t think I am great at furniture design.  While designing an environment or space, one always tries and balances the interior so that the final result is a composition where everything gels with each other in perfect harmony; there is balance and it brings that wow factor to it. So furniture is just a part of a bigger picture.  Wood has a beauty of itself. The moment I see wood, I see its textures, grains, tones and how it can help us achieve what composition we have in mind. In my initial years after graduation I used to sit a lot on site with carpenters and  would learn a lot of technicality. This helped me evolve more on my design of furniture. I used to stay on site interacting with masons, carpenters and visualizing spaces for weeks, away from home. And just being there used to give me that satisfaction of creativity. I love creating furniture out of stones, concrete, brick, metal, glass and wood.

What kind of projects do you like doing the most?
A designers we love everything that comes our way. Right from designing a small piece of furniture, or interiors to a large building to a landscape to a farm house to a card, we put in lot of effort to go into small details and are conscious that we are contributing in whatever smaller way to bettering the lives of our clients. In the past, I got a chance to work a lot on ocean front properties when I was working under a senior Architect in Mumbai and I loved it. Also Hills are where I would love to do some such creation personally in the future. But we do make sure that nature plays a big role in all our creations. It is impossible for me, as an architect, to imagine a house designed without enjoying the nature around it.

If you were to change one thing about clients, what would it be?
Frankly every client has their ideas and we as designer help realise them. So we should not focus on changing anything in clients. However, we always try and make them aware of new possibilities which will positively affect the project and their lives. Discussing with them and educating them is our responsibility. Many of our clients have put in so much trust in us and due to that only we can do some good work. Once they trust you and if they give you freedom as designers, you can create something which they feel proud of. I would say both architect and client should interact with an open mind which can result into a "great" product in the end.

What is your Dream Project?
For us every project is a dream project and we keep doing our best every day. Design is a journey of a lifetime, where new ideas are created everyday and you evolve as a better designer with each day. In this journey of life which will continue till end, every opportunity we get to design is a dream come true. I  personally want to design a house on a waterfront, either a river, a lake or an ocean...that is my dream for my family.

What defines your Style?
At SAK Designs our approach is being different in every project. We don’t stick to one style and follow it blindly throughout the practice. Renzo Piano said it very correctly that “if as a designer you stick to same style and same approach for years then either you are not growing or you are becoming mechanical and no longer creative”. Trying new approaches makes us so much more innovative and keeps us interested in each project throughout. I and my associate, Ms. Jinal Kantharia, challenge each other's ideas and designs and that helps us remain relevant in the present context and keeps us growing strong. The field changes everyday with new approach, new technology, new products, new expectation of individuals, so we have to move forward with that and give advantage of our creativity to the world.

Your comments on Indian Architecture...
India is rich culturally and has a great heritage. Lately we see lot of good Architecture being practiced and new generation of Architects will really take it forward.

People speak a lot about Green Architecture. What is your opinion on this?
Today people have realized the importance of sustainability and being green in approach. It is very important because the future depends on our use of resources today. If you create something in Harmony with Mother Nature, it helps. It is critical today to try to follow the principle of minimal to an extent and respect nature. 

Besides your work what do you like doing most?
We as architects have accepted a life where our mind works 24X7, because design is a nonstop process. This troubles us a lot, at times, but this is our destiny. Being with family helps a lot and one enjoys seeing the journey of kids, spouse, parents. I listen to music a lot, though I like Indian and western classic both, I listen to Yanni,  Beethoven, Mozart a lot. I read a lot of non fictional work of various disciplines to just add a different perspectives to my thinking. I love traveling to the hills. Himalayas are my favorite, specially Ladakh, Kashmir, Hrishikesh. The world is so large what we see everyday something new in all cultures and countries, which adds to our knowledge or rather widens our horizon. I make it a point to travel once in two years to Italy and rest of Europe for a simple reason that that is a place which gives a designer confidence about importance of design in life.

What is your suggestions to young students of Architecture and Interior Design?
Today architecture and other design practices have reached a stage every individual can achieve his/her dream. So, live your passion and the rest will follow. Journey of an architect’s life is unique and every day we create something new and one should enjoy this. You are a designer... create your own uniqueness.

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