The versatility of design

Creative PACKAGE Young, talented and full of ideas, Arjun Rathi is a design architect, transforming structures and innovating designs. Harshikaa Udasi

The versatility of design

He is an architect, an industrial designer and a photographer – all rolled into one. And at the age of 28, this man is a name to reckon with in the world of design.

Arjun Rathi is the principal of the eponymous multi-disciplinary design practice operating from Mumbai.

Established in 2011, his firm’s work has gained national recognition for its exploratory approach towards design processes. Arjun shot into limelight with his Refrigerator Coffee Table design for which he won the first place at the Eco Arts Awards, 2012, USA. He has also been awarded the Young Designer’s Award, Products, by Jasubhai Media, India, 2013.

The Arjun Rathi Studio stands out for its out-of-the-box creativity. Arjun inspires his team to work with everyday things and create something with a twist, something unexpected. “Through the disciplines of architecture, landscape, interior design and evolved concepts of ‘Psyche-tectural’ theory (psychetecturism being the conceptual ‘ism’ in which the city is constructed), our practice aims to innovative spatial forms that actively engage, enhance and influence the body, constantly challenging its relationship to the built environment.
We work at both ends of the design spectrum, from single pieces made together with craftsmen to mass produced objects developed in collaboration with manufacturers. And our studio is not defined by a particular style, but rather by questioning objects while considering their context and the cultural associations embedded in them,” he explains.

He goes on to add that each project proposes a simple solution involving a narrative aspect. The approach to design is hands on, practical and collaborative. “Our designs look to experiment with materials and challenge processes that find application on commercial projects. We don’t tend to stick to a single style, favourite material or formula, but consider design as a craft, where deep understanding of materials, processes and user behaviour serve as a knot. We try to bring a sense of simplicity, functionality and elegance to our work.”

Threefold approach
The studio works across three verticals – architecture and interiors, urban projects and product design, lighting installations and furniture. “Presently, we have some bungalows and a music studio under construction. We are also in the process of finishing a dance studio in Bandra (Mumbai), which deals with a variety of dance forms, including aerial dance. We also have a new lighting collection under production, which will be launched in the next few months,” he says, elaborating on his current projects.

His studio has also been invited to be part of the Story of Light Festival in Goa this month, where it will design some public installations inspired from sacred geometry in Panjim. Speaking of sacred geometry, Arjun talks about a proposal made by his studio for Pyramid Valley in Bengaluru (an international meditation centre). “Sacred geometry proportions have been used in the master planning and individual unit planning for the scheme. The proposal comprises 72 housing units and common amenities, including a conference hall to create a meditational retreat,” he says.

Cleaning up well
The Arjun Rathi Studio is also associated with the Swach Bharat Abhiyan. “We were approached by a client who wanted to contribute to the campaign as part of their CSR requirements,” says Arjun. The studio has designed a low-cost, low-maintenance, sustainable toilet design, which will be implemented in primary rural schools across the country.

The design is completely pre-fabricated, allowing the elements to be transported to the site in a truck and assembled using only a fork-lift. The system can be fixed at site within half a day and costs just under a lakh, including costs for the plumbing, water tank and soak pit.

In addition to architecture, Origami is a passion at Arjun Rathi’s. The studio has recently tried to combine technology with Origami design, developing a media facade for buildings and Origami lighting solutions. They are also exploring modular Origami techniques, where several papers are folded to create a single shape.

The installation at the Story of Light Festival will be executed using modular Origami techniques and different forms of the paper, combined with sensor and solar technology for lighting.

“The process of exploring and practising the art is almost a meditative process and a great way to discipline the mind. We explore Origami to study the form and take inspiration for our design work,” says Arjun.

Whatever it takes, much has been achieved because of concerted efforts. So, let the creative juices keep flowing, to produce more art!

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