Archi Feature > Samira Rathod

14Dec08

*An Indian By Design Exclusive*
The first thing that strikes you about Samira is that she’s extremely passionate. I met her at the opening of the Devi Arts Foundation, in the midst of a sandstorm, her hair flying as wildly as her hands, as she shared her thoughts on modern Indian Architecture and design criticism or rather the lack if it. I got back to Mumbai and saw her work. It was as spirited as she was. Her windows were welcoming, her buildings had a body language. I had reservations about her furniture, but the more I look at them, I more I appreciate their individuality and enjoy their original aesthetic. Architect, Interior Designer, Furniture designer, Editor, quirky lady, here is a peek into Samira’s work and her mind.

The Architecture Projects

> The Bangalore House

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Samira says: “A tryst with material – concrete panels with acrylic pegs, to render an apparently opaque surface, which allows a dance of light with ruffling leaves of the tree outside, or the ascending descending beat of footsteps on the flight of stairs.”

> The Mariwalla House

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Samira says: “Three incoherent industrial looking objects, are strung together along an unapparent spine to create a spatial narrative that esentially strives to be unassuming, inspite of it’s large vistas, and it’s constant dialogue with the outside. An uninhibited pallette of industrial matetrials such as aluminium, mild steel, glass, stone and fabric, adorn this medley that is truly contextual in all its nuances of being.”

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Samira says: “The Mariwalla are a couple in their late sixties, who have found a new life in togetherness and companionship. The house makes an attempt to translate this vibe of a newly founded love, exultation and celebration. The architecture metaphors a certain kind of zanyness, an undaunting madness, that is in the emancipation of a long felt unexpressed emotion.”

> The Hariharan House

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Samira says: “The house is situated on the edge of a stream. It was conceived as a combination of a contemporary box and a pitched roof structure forked to accommodate a fan shaped swimming pool in between. The house is devised as a series of spaces to create a narrative of tactility. Large openings blur the edge of the inside with the outside allowing the outdoors to integrate with the indoors.”

>The Alibaug House

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Samira Says: “A Single space designed like a warehouse with forms built within it. The special feature of the house is the sheath of rain that can artificially be turned on to create a cooler microclimate. Designed for family and friends the house exudes a candid personality, is honest, forthright and welcoming.”

>The Karjat House

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Samira says: “This was a site that attracted migratory birds. Any built form would have to blend into the environment so as to keep the birds from leaving. Perched on top of a large mound the house rests 14’ above a man-made lake. The chosen site has a row of tress which were not disturbed and the spaces were conceived around these. Low lying and understated the house blends into its surroundings well, without disturbing the migratory birds.”

The Interior Projects

>The Jariwalla House

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Samira says: “A liaison with craft, not seen as embellishment, but as a methodology of compositions in materials and form dynamics. An exploration in details and an exuberance of uninhibited, overwhelming collage of ideas and attitudes, referenced from notions of Indian crafts and traditions in architecture.”

The architecture belongs to Aniket and Smruti Bhagwat of m/s. Prabhakar Bhagwat and associates, from Ahmedabad.

>The Handa Residence

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Samira says: “This was an attempted exploration in dematerialisation, which negates the form and material by its repetitive use. Essentially, architecturally, it is stone and glass and steel, which remains as the interior palette as well. The interior design enjoys the idea of accentuating that which is otherwise inconspicuous. The furniture form and details draw their inspiration from abstract ideas and concepts.”

The architecture belongs to Aniket and Smruti Bhagwat of m/s. Prabhakar Bhagwat and associates, from Ahmedabad.

>Magic

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Samira says: “A scintillating night sky is the inspiration for the interior of a night club. The volume above 8 feet is rendered with lights to emulate celestial bodies, emanating lights in the black void of space formed by its spatial envelop. The furniture too, is treated as elements floating in this void.”

>Indigo Deli (Andheri)

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Samira says: “On the same lines as our earlier project, Indigo Cafe, in Colaba.”

Coming Soon

>The Broacha Residence

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Samira says: “A flirtatious, playful form that flaunts reason and logic in its apparent temporality. Incoherent and inconsistent, with purpose, it is derived from the form of a camera and a film set (Ayesha being a photographer) of exaggerated scales, like an illogical melodrama, that is characteristic of bollywood scripts.”

Samira Speaks.

On aesthetic identity: “There are as if only two crutches in Indian contemporary aesthetics. An adopted western imagery that more often than not has little contextual bearing, or the dependence on Indian craft, fused as fragments that results in a pastiche confused aesthetic.

For years we have slaved ourselves to western doctrines of design. Now, when the circle of light is on us , we scramble for aid, in our unpreparedness and seek an easy disguise for our inefficiencies and the lack of an exploratory deductive thinking, in history, tradition and culture Often this is an over glorification to hide our sedimented complacency. On the other hand, the glib western imagery that designers so quickly rush to adopt, in the garb of the global, remains equally unimpressive. Neither come from intelligent interrogative derivations of ideas and context.

On local vs global: “There is a single planet but there are several worlds within. Geographies that have derived cultures, make a strong case for regional contextualism, the local, and the indigenous. So oodles of doodles of concrete, or the posed, minimalist, reductive starkness are both deceitful ploys that stage to demonstrate a derived intellectual thought that does not make its existence any more relevant than being trendy and fashionable and are hugely inconsiderate of the finer human sensibilities.

History of evolution has shown that civilization emerged in different parts of the world simultaneously. Languages, agriculture, medicine, etc were the inevitable outcome of the imperative evolutionary process. I am not making a case for an insular retarded propagation but am attacking the overt western plagiarism, that plagues us, without a deeper understanding of the regional context.”

On craft: “Craft has often been misunderstood as ornamentation and embellishment. It is essentially the art of product making. It is the manner in which materials and forms are composed into a product, an element, a building. It is detail in design. Mass production has been both, a boon and a bane. While it served to meet the minimum basic requirements of the larger people, it depleted us of exclusivity human rigour and passion, and an intuitive aesthetic.”

On where Indian Interior Design is: “In the absence of a serious professional, for several years the profession of interior design is claimed by fashionable women with acquired taste, who went on to be termed stylists, and architects who donned this hat, out of personal interest or desperation.

In case of the stylist, there was a complete lack of understanding of the contexts and the commission was mostly treated as a collection of beautiful objects from across the world.

The architect on the another hand, having trained essentially in space and building, limited the scope of design to altering the spatial context, to create programmatic relevance and re-rendering the space, ignoring the skills required to make furniture, tapestry, light fittings etc, which he purchased. Inadequately qualified for the profession, the architects find themselves at a loss, when for instance, the spatial contexts are intact, and the space does not need redefining, but its architecture is of superior quality. What new concept and context can then be woven into such defined space? It would have to take a position and define its existence without hinging itself on a mere redressing of the existing space.

Perhaps this, and questions such as these could lead to a theory of contemporary interior design in India, that has for long been un-established or even as much as discussed.”

Samira Rathod is an architect and interior designer and runs srda. She is also co-editor of Spade.

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2 Responses to “Archi Feature > Samira Rathod”

  1. I love the simplicity of the designs…esp the The Jariwalla House – rekha

  2. Hei, I love your blog… Indian Focused (The more blog spesific – The more its interesting). Im trying to build my Architectural Blog too, do u wanna visit my blog and give some commentary. Btw, thanks be4.

    I like this quote:

    “On local vs global: “There is a single planet but there are several worlds within. Geographies that have derived cultures, make a strong case for regional contextualism, the local, and the indigenous. So oodles of doodles of concrete, or the posed, minimalist, reductive starkness are both deceitful ploys that stage to demonstrate a derived intellectual thought that does not make its existence any more relevant than being trendy and fashionable and are hugely inconsiderate of the finer human sensibilities.”

    Yup, culture and humanity should be the primary context in desingin building worldwide. So we should’nt being too easy hypnotized by International Style of Architecture. But we must remember both cultural and also International character. Hmmm. Am I right?



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