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In Conversation with Ar. Behzad Kharas, the MD and Chairman of The BNK GroupBy ZingyHomes Editorial Team
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Ar. Behzad Kharas is a well-known name in the field of architecture, thanks to the prominent awards he has won and the outstanding projects his company The BNK Group has worked on under his leadership. Behzad, a graduate of Rizvi College of Architecture, faced a lot of struggles during the early days of his career. In the year 2005, he successfully launched his company The BNK Group. Soon after, the company too went through a rough patch for a short period of time. But, his perservant nature and never-say-die attitude drove him to turn things around - he enabled his company to grow consistently and helped it attain an envious position.
Some of the prestigious awards he has won include IID- MK Award, IAD Awards (2008 & 2009), IIID Anchor Awards and more. Behzad is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of The BNK Group.
In this interesting interview, Behzad talks about his early life, career, his vision for the company, projects, the awards he has won and lot more.
Please tell us a bit about yourself - both you as a professional and you as the person behind the architect?
Graduating as a promising student from Rizvi College of Architecture in the year 2002, Behzad N. Kharas began his career in the field of signage. After integrating the nuances of signage he went to Pronith Nath and Associates to inculcate his refined sense of style of design and concept development. In May 2004 he was bestowed with an opportunity to work with the visionary architect Hafeez Contractor. This was short-lived as he had to leave within a few weeks to take care of a family crisis. The next few months of his life were spent in shouldering the responsibility of taking care of his father and supporting his mother. Though in these stressful times he had to face several months of unemployment, his never-say-die attitude waded him through the rough tide.
The year of 2005 saw the birth of ThinkBNK. With the first project of designing a villa for a family friend to getting office space to function (from a school friend), the projects of ThinkBNK gradually unfolded one by one. Though projects were progressively increasing, with some projects not seeing the light of the day, ThinkBNK went through a rough patch. This was also a time when he fell in love and got married. With a bank loan to pay, times were tough ahead. His wife has been a strong pillar of support right from the very beginning. Behzad’s perseverant nature and resolute attitude took him to Mumbai where he started off with a transformed vitality with two staff members in tow. From here on there was no looking back.
The secret of Behzad’s success is the value he places on honesty, integrity, perseverance and passion for the work he undertakes. These values are in turn infused into the team that he mentors resulting into an excellent outcome. The will to deliver positive growth, rides over all the rough times that are faced by the company.
Today, Think BNK is an ISO 9001:2008 certified design organisation with over 100 projects to its credit. Along with ThinkBNK, Behzad established Yohaan Enterprises as a turnkey outfit for customized high-end projects and has recently started BNK Realty Limited as well. Having 3 verticals of business being formed, he felt the necessity to unify the businesses under one brand and hence, 2013 saw the birth of THE BNK GROUP as a consolidated brand doing consultancy, contracts and construction.
What is your design philosophy?
At THE BNK GROUP, we believe that change is inevitable and experimentation is the key to change. We try to bring out new ideas, new materials and new systems that are different from the rest. We make sure that the design is contextual, yet reformist. We look into an integration of technology, aesthetics, functionality, sustainability, socio-economic factors, and a content driven philosophy. We have no signature design style. We mould ourselves to the needs of our clients and endeavor to give them a better environ which exceeds their expectations.
Time is the key essence and that is what we believe in. We are very value-driven and ensure that our success allows us to hold our heads high and feet firmly grounded. Social values are inculcated in our team to serve our clients better. We want to be proud of our work and not of ourselves.
How would you define your signature style?
We have no signature design style. We mould ourselves to the needs of our clients and endeavor to give them a better environ which exceeds their expectations.
What kind of projects have you been working on?
Our designing component encompasses integrated townships, holiday home schemes, corporate offices, restaurants, residential buildings, schools, campuses and high-end residential and commercial interiors.
Besides this recent recognition, BNK has consistently been winning awards both for architectural design and construction. What do you attribute your consistent award winning streak to?
Every project that we undertake, we try to bring individual taste based on the clients’ persona and profile. When works starts to look repetitive we realise our design abilities are sinking. At The BNK Group we consistently try to evolve our designs and in fact when we see our old designs we laugh at them wondering how we could design something like this. Being self critical about work and design is utmost necessary to remain in the business of design.
What kind of projects do you personally enjoy working on?
Hospitality projects because not only is it fast paced, it also helps bring out a varied creative design process. It has limited options and streaming down to the right option is a huge task in itself.
Out of all projects you and your team have worked on, which is your personal favourite?
Suttatti Villa, Pune: The Suttatti Villa project in Pune is my most significant project. It is closest to my heart.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge is to educate the clients and convince them on what you wish to do. Some of the good projects are in which the client has full conviction in what you undertake. Some projects, unfortunately majority are such where client has no conviction in our designs and those projects turning out to be mediocre. Winning a clients’ confidence is a challenge. Every new client is a challenge even when you are well established.
Any interesting anecdote you would like to share from your professional practice?
We may be young and have the ability to deliver fast but it takes experience to deliver well.
What is your vision for the BNK group?
THE BNK GROUP has innovatively ventured from consultancy into the verticals of contracts and construction. Over the years there has been an unyielding and persevering team effort towards establishing a potent consultancy vertical that is expanding exponentially, taking on more challenging projects. The contracting vertical has its centralised focus on high net worth and personalised projects entailing an exclusive niche. The idea is to create a synergy between all the three verticals. There is a symbiotic equation between consultancy, contracts and construction, all in turn infusing more business into each other. The overarching purpose is to amalgamate all three verticals as one brand entity, that would be a force to reckon with in the field of customised interiors designing and high aspirational homes for people who live in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
How would you like the world to know you when you call it a day?
The day I open a restaurant and start cooking is when everybody will know I have stopped designing. I find cooking therapeutic and stress relieving. I regularly watch shows on travel and living and always wanted to retire in a small town and probably have a restaurant in the house like a home restaurant.
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