Pooja and Arbasyis Ashley

Young Turks Dated:  Jan. 24, 2015
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Architects: Pooja and Arbaysis Ashley

Today, we catch up with the Ashleys, the young and passionate architect-designers in Mumbai. We talk to Pooja who honed her skills in design from Domus Academy in Milan and working with the likes of TalatiPanthaky. We find out the little fun details about Arbaysis Ashley, like the fact that he won the best thesis award during his college days and even led the college to triumph during the national award trophy and got back the much awaited glory to his college after a spate of 14 years. He has a keen eye for chic and sophistication.

What defines the real Pooja and Arbaysis?
Pooja: I love travelling year on year to Milan which is the hub for fashion and design. When not designing exclusive furniture art pieces, I spend my free time in either reading and researching on design trends globally or getting into deep moments of retrospection, meditation.
Arbaysis: Design is an integral part of who I am. I have a keen eye for chic and sophistication. Design in any form enthrals me from high fashion to jewellery or even a pen. I get my dose of adrenaline rush from adventure sports like racy drives and rappelling. Spent a lot of my child hood wandering the mountains cascading waterfalls all alone.

You have studied design both in India and Italy. How do you think the two shaped your skills differently?
Study in India set my foundation in design, Italy widened my whole horizon and perspective of looking at design. It brought to me an invigorating experience of trends, thought processes across the globe. On the other hand also brought a deep sense of belief in myself as an Indian designer enroute to setting our mark on a global platform.

When did you start your practice? Did you choose by design to work on high-end projects?
The Ashleys was co founded by both of us around 2004. As to the second part of your question, I think its thought provoking. Our conscious choice was to bring high value intense design to every project, be it any budget. This simple focus on design scaled us on to various spectrums of projects and marked a niche for ourselves on high end projects. In fact in retrospection of our journey it would be interesting to note some of our most so called “budgeted” projects brought us the high end projects and that’s exciting because it leaves a very strong mark as a “Designer”

Tell us something about your approach to your projects. How do you ensure each project has a distinct design identity?
We believe as designer as an artist, you must leave a mark behind to create a statement of your own. But we also feel very socially responsible and feel the user especially if it’s a private space must have a strong sense of belonging to their space. Our designs evolve out of sketchy, preliminary requirements and client lifestyles which through the whole process are distilled, moulded and transformed to a signature style and mark. So, on the face of it what might look as our style statement is deeply rooted and glued together with a client’s identity. This is what we call successful design.

How would you describe The Ashleys' signature style?
Just takes me a couple of words to define and package it, simplicity, high sophistication, chic, international appeal. If I were to explain it more, at first glance our projects may appear very simple but are highly detailed at its core... Our designs overwhelm you with an understated experience and still there is so much to soak in and cherish.

Tell us something about your most favourite project.
Never ask a designer the most favourite project because it will be spread all over. We give every project my soul and deep passion.

What do you enjoy most? Residential projects, retail, furniture design, commercial space design...?
For us, it’s not about the segment, it’s about the project and the client who allows us to explore design liberally that interest us. Fluidity in segments keeps us excited.

Moving on from projects to clients, you have had a number of illustrious clients. Were they difficult to work with? Who has been a designer's delight to work with?
(Smile), when they are as illustrious as you rightly labelled them, they all come their own set of quirks but that’s what makes them what they are and we love the whole process of interacting with them . We have been blessed with many awesome clients right from Rajeev of Marching Ants, Sanjay Gupta, Manish Mandhana, Mrs. Snehal Runwal, Anu Malik and so many others who set that strong belief in us with little or almost no intervention.

Who/what inspires you and your works?
Talking of people, there are many brilliant architects from different genres, in the past and present that always inspire us. Just about anything from a dead bark fallen on the ground to patterns in the sand as we walk or to Indian history or a piece of jewellery as a designer our eyes and soul are always nourished with volumes that we see.

What challenges do you face and what is your strategy to tackle them?
You see, life is ever changing every moment so it challenges us every minute differently. We look at it all as just “Life”. So it never occurs to us, that something is a challenge we need to cross. It’s just a process of Life……

How would you like your work to be recognized?
As an Indian designer creating a mark globally.

Your personal favourites when you sit for sketching designs!!
Exclusive furniture art pieces, I love detailing these, for exclusivity is at the heart of design.

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