Nothing 'typical' about it!

Nothing 'typical' about it!

Corner offices can hardly be used as a metric of power these days. Similarly, expensive artworks at homes do not necessarily translate to the tastefulness (or lack thereof) of owners.

Globally speaking, there has been a gradual, but definitive change in the sense of perceived aesthetics over the last decade. While the ‘what’ of an end product still remains important, the ‘how’, which mostly took a backseat earlier, is now gaining prominence. Apparel, home accessories, gadgets, packaging, communication design and even digital user interfaces are undergoing design metamorphoses.

But what is it that has prompted this shift? “The main reason is that the purchasing power of people has increased over the years,” reckons Tuhin Roy, co-founder of Jumping Goose, a design startup based out of Bengaluru. “Speaking of India, our aesthetics quotient has gone up over the years due to global exposure, perhaps due to constant travel. Also, the consumer as such, has become more demanding over the years. Because competitive brands and talent are more visible these days, they are also assured of being delivered a sound end product,” he reasons.

Among the few players in the field of space design, Jumping Goose has redone many corporate offices, including those of Flipkart and Myntra in Bengaluru. Their aim is to transform corporate spaces into livelier ecosystems. Most of us are no strangers to the fact that an office’s interiors has a bearing on the productivity of employees. Ergonomic chairs, cheery colours, a coffee vending machine, among other things, are mostly what have been the focus of employers over the years. Why, we’ve even heard of washrooms being painted in garish colours to dissuade employees from spending too much time in there. But the times are changing now.

Transforming designs

Businesses have transformed, as have the people. And one key point may be that workplaces are now focusing on space design. The workforce is young, experimental and open to change. Be it the concept of casual Fridays or customising or personalising one’s workdesk, more lenient traditions are being adopted. Of course, the market too has thrown open such opportunities in recent times.

The latent sense of quirk that lay shielded by the sense of formality has now been exposed, with businesses willing to experiment more. Earlier, with all its constraints, Indian design mostly used the concept of ‘copy-paste’ from other sources. But now, there is a bigger pool of talent, brands are more visible and our sources of inspiration have also evolved.

How is customising space different from interior designing, you ask. To begin with, interior decoration lays a focus on aesthetics and beautification. Space design on the other hand, is a concept that generally revolves around a theme. So, what exactly does space design entail? Putting it plainly, it is the optimal comprehension of space. There are several things to be taken care of, viz., the scale to operate out of, the zones to be created, variable and non-variable space and items in an office, permanent application of materials and the like.
Space conceptualisation, however, is not merely restricted to designers. “Collaboration is the key word when it comes to design,” explains Piyush Bhandari, who co-founded Jumping Goose with Tuhin. “We often function with a group of vendors because we operate on a very large scale. There is the lighting department, installation dept, artists etc. It is always a team effort, where everyone is indispensable.”

Conceptually sound and feasible, can space design be extended to the domestic front too? Eventually, may be. But there are several reasons why this works better for businesses. “Corporates are more structured. And we operate on a mammoth scale. Our work involves extensive research and development. We generally are expected to work on a top-notch theme or concept. So, it is tough to scale down most of these parameters. But a few years down the line, it might just be a possibility,” Piyush says.

Barriers ahead

Being in its inchoate stage, the field of space design has yet to overcome several challenges and impediments before being implemented. The most important challenge being the client themselves. Due to the fact that there are generally multiple stakeholders involved in a project, aligning all of them on a single thread can be quite difficult.

This is closely followed by what is termed as the expat culture — meaning firms tend to hand over assignments to big established names (from abroad) for the brand value they would bring with them, rather than trust Indian firms with the job. While this assures them of quality work, there is an absence of incorporation of Indian sensibilities into the work due to an inherent disconnect.

Unrealistic expectations over time is also a major factor for poor design quality. Having said that, there is a also a dearth of good and specialised designers in the area, which makes it harder to deliver quality work.Space design is a field that can be qualified neither as a subset of architecture nor as a technical area. It is a sort of counter
culture, that explores tangible mediums and connects the dots to deliver a practical product. Tuhin believes that Bengaluru is a space that is slowly opening up to art and culture. “Soul Santhe is a good initiative. But we need something more powerful, like the Delhi Haat, to really turn around design,” he says.

Design is in its nascent stage in India. But with increasing demand and talented
players emerging in the markets, we are sure to see an evolution.

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