Partnerships in Design - An Interview With the MuseLAB Partners

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Now a 7 year old firm, its more than safe to say that MuseLAB has established themselves firmly as a leading modern day design studio with numerous accolades to their name. In an interview with our magazine editors, Huzefa and Jasem gave us valuable insight into partnerships, collaborations and the story beihind MuseLAB.

Picture courtesy: MuseLAB

How did you approach your projects?

At MuseLAB every challenge is treated as an opportunity which is given careful thought and consideration. The project brief is our guiding principle - it is our source of motivation and inspiration. We use both intuitive and traditional methods of analysis to identify the tangible and the intangible. The emerging patterns or results help us tell your story. By a systematic process of conceptualization, schematic design and design development, our aim is to provide pure and focused experiential design to the user. We are an end-to-end design studio, offering a bespoke and leading-edge approach to design with a precise focus on unique and highly customized environments, interiors and furniture. Each space and or product embodies integrity and is created with the same care, skill and attention to detail.


What is the story behind MuseLAB?

MuseLAB was founded in 2012 by Huzefa Rangwala and Jasem Pirani, although the seeds of this collaboration between the pair of us were sown in 2008 on a backpacking expedition to Mexico. Both partners met while studying in the US. Huzefa studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology from where received his Masters in Architecture degree with a specialization in the Design of Digital Manufacturing and Jasem received his Masters in Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. MuseLAB, at 7 years now is an award-winning, globally published practice and was a part of the prestigious Architectural Digest India’s list of the 100 most influential architects and interior designers of the sub-continent in 2019.


Which project from your practice stands out according to you and why?

Of the built Interior design works, Free-spirited is my favorite project thus far. The balance of warm undertones with bold pop colors, advanced machining techniques with hand craftsmanship, customized furniture and curated accessories and most importantly, a free hand by our clients, truly reflects the mindset of MuseLAB and the level of details we have to offer. It was one of our first projects and still remains my favorite.


What do you think is essential for a partnership such as yours to function?

Ours is a collaborative practice both within and without. As Directors, we ensure that designs conceptualized by us are evolved within the studio through creative discourses with the entire team. For us, the opinion of every individual in the studio counts and each viewpoint is considered. We both have our strengths and our weaknesses and hence, it is extremely important for us to respect and promote our individual strengths. That is the biggest advantage of being in a partnership. Also, we are friends first and of course there are times when we agree to disagree but these moments have been far and few.


What’s your take on design sustainability? How do you try and incorporate it into your projects?

Sustainability is the need of the hour. Green building principles are not just about putting a solar panel or harvesting rainwater. It is also about knowing what to do with the debris from a site or using low-voc paints or maybe just up cycling furniture to create something that is completely new. As designers, we are expected to innovate and be creative not just on the drawing board but also in how we build. We will be honest in saying that we are not entirely sustainable in our practice but where possible, we do try to use recycled materials or up cycle existing furniture to ensure that there is a part of the project which is built on the principles of sustainability.


What would you like to change in modern day architectural or design education?

We need to ensure that the students get more practical knowledge. A 6 month internship is not enough to get a student acclimatized to the real world scenario. There has to be a system in place where design schools should tie up with boutique or smaller practices to ensure that the students over their 5 years of education get at least 5 summers of work experience apart from their 6 month internship. Also, schools should encourage a gap year to allow the students to either take a year off to work under an architect in another city or maybe another country. Also, with architecture now branching into several creative disciplines, it also becomes important for the schools to council the students accordingly and educate them to not rush into a masters degree immediately after graduation; rather they work for 2-3 years and then decide what they want to specialize in.


Any recent project apart from that of your firm that really inspired or motivated you?

Sameep Padoras Maya Somaiya Library for the Sharda School is one of our favourite projects of recent times. It not only encapsulates technology with a roof that is parametrically designed, but it also highlight sustainable construction techniques to create something which is not only iconic, but also contextually relevant.


What would your one advice be for young architects and designers who want to set up their own practice? When according to you is the right time?

It’s a catch – 22 situation. If you start immediately after graduating, you will learn on the ground. You will make mistakes but you will also learn from them and you will develop your own style. that is the biggest advantage of starting early. You have lesser things at stake, lesser responsibilities, it allows you to falter and fail initially, in an attempt to grow as an Architect. At the same time, starting after getting sufficient experience of working with an organization, especially a large one helps to understand how larger firms operate, you get the exposure to learn and absorb whatever you need to, be it in the aspect of design strategies or business advancements.Starting your own firm is not just about designing, it’s about the business of architecture. It involves handling logistics, finances, vendors and clients. Working with a larger organization helps you understand that, but at the same time, I have peers who started their own practice right after graduating, and where they are now after twelve years, I might take another six years to reach there.When you work for someone else, although it adds to your experience, you do end up losing time and energy that could have been absorbed into your practice


What projects are you currently working on?

Currently we are working on several villas in Goa, Alibaug and Punjab. Some are couture homes while some are sustainable. We are also doing a hotel project in Varanasi apart from some residential, retail and hospitality interior projects.


Q: TDC

A: Huzefa Rangwala & Jasem Pirani


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