How did you come up with the name of your studio?
I have a vivid memory of the moment when I first read about the Indus Valley Civilisation. I must have been 7 or 8 years of age at that time, and there was this artist’s visualization of how Mohenjodaro could have looked in its heyday. I was captivated by the construction and planning techniques of the city, the level of sophisticated advancement they had in that era. As far as I can recollect, it was my first ever introduction to the concept of buildings, and ever since it is something that has stayed with me.
When I named my practice Studio Mohenjodaro, it was my way of paying tribute to that fascinating memory.
What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
We got our house constructed when I was 12 and remember constantly asking my father about the “look” of the house. On seeing the drawings of the house that were prepared by the architect, I was quite fascinated and found myself constantly admiring them. The fact that an articulated drawing could shape structures and the built environment seemed exciting and novel to me. Probably that is what left an impression on my mind, getting eventually drawn to the idea of becoming an architect.
What kind of projects were you doing when you first started as a designer?
I started my career with Hundred Hands at Bangalore under the aegis of Bijoy Ramachandran. The first projects I worked on in that firm were the Interior Design of a Penthouse and the Architectural Design of a Granite Factory and its ancillary buildings. After a few years when I started my own practice in Chandigarh, I was working on projects at a much smaller scale. My first independent project was a residence of about 3150sq ft.
What field of design are you most interested in?
Natural Earth Building is something that I am really interested in pursuing. It is not something we’ve done till now, but I aim to adapt it into my vocabulary for future projects as I want to be more conscious of what we build. Construction has one of the most severe impacts on our environment, I would like to work with materials that are in tandem with the vernacular ideologies.
What is your favorite book/magazine on design? How about your favorite site?
There are a few architects that I really admire, Geoffrey Bawa, Laurie Baker, and Kevin Mark Low to name a few. I quite like the books highlighting their works; A website I follow regularly is Design Taxi as it broadly encompasses all types of design, be it graphics, fonts, branding, and other ancillary fields as well.
What is your Signature Style?
We have a preference for a natural material palette, exposed brickwork, raw concrete finishes, naturally finished Indian stone and timber are common amongst most of our works. I can safely say that it has become somewhat of a signature style. Although there is a sincere attempt to keep evolving and experimenting with new ideas and materials as well.
What inspires you to thrive in this industry? Which piece of architecture inspires you the most.
We are a young practice trying to carve a niche for ourselves. We aim to create a meaningful body of work that reflects our ideology, it should be simple and uncomplicated yet aesthetically pleasing. I would be lying if I said we don’t care for acknowledgment. It is always nice to be appreciated and it somehow justifies all the sacrifices and struggles made to reach that point. There is a motivation to improve with every project and push the envelope every time, slowly but steadily.
From your point of view, is design an art or a science?
I would like to believe that Design has to be thought-provoking and liberating like art, but it needs rationality and logic like that of science. Even though it leans more towards being an art, it is still an amalgamation of both at the end of the day.
If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
Protected National Parks, Sanctuaries, and More Forests. I think humans have already constructed more than we will ever need in this generation or the next. Instead of further encroaching upon the natural habitat of ancient tribes, animals, and plants, we should limit our aggressive expansion plans in the name of development. I would rather put the money and resources into exploring options to reverse the damage already done.
What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
They should aim to iron out the superfluous, the irrelevant from design. The most complex problems can be broken down and resolved with layers of simplicity in design. The simplest ideas end up being timeless and graceful even after ages. Another input I would like to add is that all of us collectively should become more conscious of our actions and decisions. Every brick added has to be thought through.