A spick and span conversation with 'The White Room'

Young Turks Dated:  Oct. 7, 2015
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Ar. Nitin and Ar. Disney

Ar. Nitin and Ar. Disney founded 'The White Room' studio' in 2006, in the city of Mumbai, almost a decade back. The studio follows organic style of architecture, which is not so common among practising Architects in our country. Their projects include residences closer to nature, which proves their specialty in the field of architecture and design.

Exploring further, they set up 'Material Immaterial', a product design studio which has positive design products, sometimes derived out of doodles. 

How did 'the white room' evolve? Could you please share  the story behind this interesting name and studio? 

After having worked together in another Architecture firm for few years, we found our design thinking oriented in the same way. We both have always believed that Architecture has no bounds and there is more to it and hence – 'The white room.'
'The white room' literally means a 'clean room' and our belief has always been to create clean clutter free spaces. That is when the real beauty of a space can be truly experienced. The name stands for this very idea which we continuously strive to achieve through our work.

Your note on 'Simplicity' found on your firm's website gets me curious to know about your philosophies and your ways of implication in design. 

The note comes from our experience in creating simple clutter free spaces and believe us when we say this 'It is indeed very difficult to get rid of the unnecessary, much more difficult than getting the essential in.'

Another note of yours has caught my attention “.. the way a wall meets a floor or how a door fits into a wall..”
Our readers would like to know more about this from you. 

This sentence was to bring to light the fact that these little details also matter a lot to us and much more to the spaces we create because any space is defined by these little details apart from its form, volume and light that plays within. Every element in a space is an element in itself, be it a door, a tile, a handle or a window. We value the relationship between materials more than the potential the materials possess.

Most of your projects have an extensive charm of vaults and arched openings. Since when and how have you been experimenting with this? 

The texture and details in nature have always been awe-inspiring. From the form of the flowers to the translucence of ferns, to the texture of mushrooms, the softness of mosses and strength of the nautilus, they have all been mesmerizing us since inception. And nature is where our inspiration lies, for creating organic forms.

Living spaceLiving Space - Organic House
Master BedroomMaster Bedroom - Organic House

'The Mediterranean garden' project, for sure has an interesting site, facing the Arabian sea. How was your experience working on it?

It has always been fun working on projects  closer to nature. The Mediterranean garden is touching the Arabian sea and most of the inspiration for the design came from the sea itself. 

The garden to be designed was firstly an extension to an already built residence, but a residence in a Mediterranean style. The client had already tried to work on the design twice, but ended in monetary issues, with a mismatch in the design also. We comprehended the site well, understanding every corner of it and this gave us a clear focus towards the design. The garden, even if it demanded openness, required to framed at different points, which could enhance the focus towards view points.

Material wise, we had experimented with a porous stone from Porbandar, which kept the surface well drained during heavy monsoons also.

Sea view from Terrace GardenSea view from Terrace Garden - Mediterranean Garden
Lily pond on Terrace GardenLily pond on Terrace Garden - Mediterranean Garden

In fact, I have understood that you have a deep fascination for curves and organic forms. How do you look at right angles? 

Curves or right angles, they are all instruments that help defining a space. Though we find it easier to do it using organic forms, we have no prejudice. 

We believe that every line drawn enjoys a purpose and to convince a client about the lines in our organic designs prove challenging and successful, for the amount of time and thoughts put in.'

Sea View from TerraceSea View from Terrace - Rooftop Garden, Bandra
Living Feature wall - Organic HouseLiving Feature wall - Organic House

Usually, the creative category of people prefer to work in natural set ups for better inspiration. Accordingly, the 'Riverfront house' project was of a film maker. What kind of pros and cons did you face while building the relationship between the client's creative mind and the site? 

The Riverfront house was an interesting exploration of a three sided relationship between a creative client, an inspiring site, and us. The pros of working with a filmmaker were 

a) It was easy to convince him on aesthetics 

b) There was total freedom in terms of design and execution, once the basic idea was finalized 

c) Being a creative person himself he could easily appreciate the reason why so much effort was going into selecting the correct shade of white.

Riverfront houseView of the House from across the river - Riverfront House, Palghar

Design has no boundaries and this has probably led you to explore the 'products' category as well. Product designing relates to serving a 'mass' category of users. How successful have you been with 'Material Immaterial?'  

Through 'Material Immaterial', our objective has been to create objects and ideas that we very strongly feel should be built. There hasn't been much thought put towards serving a mass category of users, in fact all our products are limited editions and in that sense, they are aimed at only a few who can appreciate them and allow them to be the way they are supposed to be.

Our readers would want to know about your 'miniature concrete homes' called – 'SPACES.' Could you give us an insight of it ? 

We always wanted to create objects of visual delight but also something that is interactive, dynamic and motivate people to think beyond what is visible and, that is exactly what these miniature homes do. That way when one sees them , what he imagines beyond the visible is interestingly different every time.

SPACES a Miniature homes

Where do you get your daily dose of inspiration from? Who is your role model? 

Our Role model is Architect Nari Gandhi- we aspire to be as free-spirited as the master. As far as inspiration goes, it is a continuous process and we don't believe in anything like a daily dose, but the works of contemporaries and the masters keep inspiring us.

To ask about your favorite architect or designer is usual. For a change, tell us about your favorite client and the project you worked on. 

Here we would like to talk about the client for whom we created the 'Organic House'. He was very supportive throughout the project and never interfered with our design decisions. That gave us total freedom to explore our ideas to the fullest and the result of this mutually supportive relationship is very clearly visible in the output. 

What can one find you doing, during your free time? 

Dreaming, doodling and watching movies. Doodling to kill time, but many of  our successful designs have been scooped out from our doodles.

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