“An intriguing interview with the founders of the young firm Studio Bipolar. The founders enlightened us about the foundation of their practice with some important advice to young architects & designers” - Editor
What led to the formation of Studio Bipolar? How did you meet and how does your partnership function in the practice?
In 2016, my partner Ujjwal and I were both working at Anagram Architects under Madhav Raman and Vaibhav Dimri. Although we had been batch mates at Sushant School of Art and Architecture, we got the chance to properly collaborate together at Anagram.
We have completely opposite styles of designing. Left to ourselves we tend to go to the extreme in opposite directions. Our partnership works because together, we strike a balance for shape, color and material in our spaces.
Since your inception in 2016, you have been able to work on a variety of projects giving each a distinct character of its own, the kind that stands out. How did those initial breakthrough projects happen? What were the challenges you faced and how did you tackle them?
Our initial projects we got through word of mouth through friends and family. We were lucky enough to get clients who wanted something unique and unconventional. So with each project we got to work with a variety of styles and concepts.
With every project, we had different challenges. I think our initial challenge was to figure out how to execute radical ideas when we had a constraint of budget and skilled labour. We had to really detail our drawings in a way that it was understandable by the most unskilled labour and do various series of discussions on site with them to ensure that our vision would be followed.
What inspired you to pursue architecture and design? During your formative years, what experiences laid the foundation that culminated into your practice today?
I am a second generation architect. My parents are CEPT, Ahmedabad graduates and studied under B.V.Doshi. My formative years consisted of being surrounded by architects and drawings and building models. So for me, it was a no brainer. My defining experience is watching my parents work hard and consistently to set up a practice. I know from early childhood that it takes years to set up a practice and you never know what kind of projects you will end up doing.
Ujjwal on the other hand, belongs to a traditional business family although his mom is a school principal. Growing up he was an avid chess player and puzzle solver. He also had an interest in art. He wanted to look for a profession which had a creative as well as a technical aspect to it , and architecture was a natural fit.
Where do you see your practice in the next 5 years?
We are aiming to expand our team of architects and designers. We want to improve our vendor base and standardize our products used in various projects. Moving forward we want to have an automated process for designing, selecting vendors, and executing of site. We are currently in discussions as to how to bring about these business processes in practice.
What makes your from different from others?
I would say that as a firm , we don’t have a style. We have done, and our doing projects which can be classified as loud and colorful, as well as sober and sophisticated. Classic to modern luxury to minimal Scandinavian. We don’t believe in imposing our aesthetic on our clients. Rather, we believe in using their values and core beliefs as a starting point and develop a visual language around that.
What are the challenges that your firm currently faces?
As we are expanding, we are currently figuring out how best to manage our manpower. On one hand we are always on the move , meeting clients and visiting sites and signing on new projects. On the other hand, we also need to be in office to make sure that work is getting done and delegated properly. As time passes, we are hoping that will get easier and more automated.
When is the right time for young architects and designers to venture into practice according to you?
Arguments can be made for starting young. You might not have all the experience you need, but you tend to learn on the job. At a young age, you don’t have that many responsibilities or obligations and can fully afford to make mistakes and build a practice slowly. However inexperience often leads to mistakes at the expense of your clients.
On the other hand, when one starts after working elsewhere for a number of years, one has the experience that is required and clients will be in good hands. However as we have learned, it takes a long time to build a trustworthy network of clients as well as vendors. We feel its better to start building that network as early as possible.
Having said that, venturing into practice is a very personal decision. If one feels they are ready for it, then go for it and best of luck!
When it comes to architecture and design, what factors matter to you the most?
For me it’s a balance. We like striking a balance between old and new, rough and smooth, modern and antique. To me, that is what makes a space interesting and unique to the client. At the end of the day if your client is happy with the end result, I think that’s what matters most.
Are there any architects or designers you look up to?
Lotus Design is a firm whose work we avidly follow with great admiration. We also love Incubis consultants and M Moser Associates.
A: Ujjwal Sagar & Sanjana Mathur