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Luxury redefined

Luxury through equal emphasis on architecture and interior design is what Architect Ajay Patil believes in.

Architect Ajay Patil established Prime Facie in 2010, and this Mumbai based architectural firm is redefining the concept of design and luxury. Prime Facie has projects spread all across the country, creating personalized homes, hospitality and individualistic projects. Their iconic projects are in Mumbai, Alibaug, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Raipur, Kanpur, Darjeeling.

Excerpts from an interview:

Tell us a bit about your background and what really drew you towards architecture and design?

The inclination towards design came to me from my father’s fixation with colours. He always said, “Observe!”. As a child I was always doodling and continued to do so through my college years. International travel was a luxury back then, but reading books and magazines opened up new ideas and inspirations, it was like an outlet to another world. I aspired to create magnificent structures like the ones I saw in the architectural magazines.

Sketching came easy to me early on and this definitely threw me onto the path of doing something creative. I also applied for my IIT Masters In Fine Arts after doing architecture. I remember being at the IIT campus in Powai when they had just announced their results. They had 19 seats and I came 33 rd out of more than 500 applicants. So close, yet so far.

Who have been your inspirations during your career?

I worked at Architect Hafeez Contractor’s office from 2000-2005 at the beginning of my career and am still inspired by the work ethos there. His ability to be so focused and variable is something I have always looked up to. To get to the point without wasting time and always letting your work speak for you are two things I imbibed from him and live by every day.

Architects Ricardo Legorreta, Frank Lloyd Wright and Carlos Scarpa have been and still are some of my favourites. Travel, however, has been my biggest inspiration.

What are some of the architecture and design trends you have been seeing in the last few years and what do you predict going forward after the lockdown?

The past few years have seen some of the finest design trends in terms of architecture and interiors. With the local rules and by laws having confined an architect's pen in terms of creating overhung balconies and features, etc, now a well-designed building is even more precious. But, the ability and necessity to transform that restriction into something more appealing has led us to the use of more varied and vivid surface materials. Interiors have no boundaries. To be honest, a good interior designer doesn’t have to use a lot. But, the careful selection of the right product in the right place is all important. To stay true to your client and not your supplier is also a very important “issue”.

Today, we have access to the entire world and will in the future, too. But we need to look at construction and materials being sourced more locally. It has to be more accessible. Promoting natural materials for example that are so beautiful but lost in the glare of the international allure. I for one love using natural, local stones. Given the right treatment and in the right combination, they can be incredible. It’s now we will need to get creative and start changing our focus on the way we design. All along we have been so accustomed to just knowing our catalogues and mixing and matching, but post lockdown we have to start designing everything and developing artisans locally. I was talking to a few of the colleges where I speak occasionally and I want to strongly suggest they include developing skills as a part of the curriculum– brick laying, carpentry, pop, painting, glazing. We have no academia teaching this stuff, here. It is a huge void that needs to be filled. Skills like these need to be mastered. Only then will we get world class finishes, buildings and interiors.

When you think of luxury in architecture, what comes to mind?

Luxury is comfort in the natural. Every client comes to you with a completely different personality and always a preconceived idea of the kind of project they want to build. But to be able to tap into that and provide a sense of satisfaction is what makes luxury feasible to begin with. It may be a two bedroom apartment or a mansion, a mall or a theatre, to be able to be true to the individual building and to add a sense of your expertise to it, is to produce something unique, that’s a priceless luxury. To be able to compliment two materials and take them to another level, that’s luxury. To compose and create, that’s luxury. Look closely, luxury is everywhere.

We saw some of your art pieces on your instagram feed. Have you been incorporating your artistic side to the architecture projects you carry out? What kind of art works are you doing at the moment?

I’ve always been inspired by Picasso. I always try to visit a museum or gallery showcasing his work on my travels. I love the Louvre. I think I have visited it four times now, so I started on these abstract lines and I’m letting it take its own course. I’m also doing a fabulous art course online which is great fun and keeps me occupied, as well as teaches new techniques.

I have always loved to paint but over the past few years that side of me got lost in the daily hustle of life. You stand in front of a painting or a great piece of art or even listen to a song and u feel something– It’s an experience, more than words can describe.

During this lockdown I decided to indulge my artistic side which was kind of always floating around (everything I send out in the office is in sketch form). I dabbled in some abstract art and I’m letting it take its own course. This, my friend, is an outcome of a reignited passion. I look forward to your support and love!

You can follow my artistic journey on Instagram and Facebook @AjayPatilArts

Going forward, how do you see the architecture and design industry adapting to the pandemic and will be seeing some sustainable changes?

Well to be honest none of us can truly answer that. A lot of people are trying to wrap their worlds around the future and I hope it leads them there but for me personally I think the need of the hour is to be more local. More natural. To create an individual nationalistic sense of artisans and take pride in our materials is the call for the day. The world markets will open up eventually but if we just go back to being like before then what have we learnt?

Tell us about what’s next for you?

I’m dying to travel again! I hope the lockdown on borders opens up soon. It will never be the same or even as easy as before but travel has always inspired me. We also have a few exciting projects coming up that I would love to see come to fruition because of the effort and the passion we have put into them. I am also hoping the universe sends my way a public space to

design– I can’t wait to get creative there.

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