“A career that spans for almost five decades and continues to grow stronger, Alfaz Miller’s contribution to architecture and design is second to none. We asked the veteran architect questions about his practice, philosophy and the journey so far. “ - Editor
Principal Architect & Managing Director
The Firm: Studio Bipolar, Gurugram, Haryana
ABM Architects is a Mumbai based Architecture & Interior Design Firm. Alfaz Miller co-founded the Firm in 1972, and is the Principal Architect. The firm has evolved with changing times and has a young work force, guided by experienced professionals in the core team.
ABM's wide experience spans major institutional and corporate projects, private buildings, offices, airports, hotels, health, residential spaces, heritage and conservation work. The firm enjoys a reputation for architecture and design solutions that are varied, comprehensive, and most importantly, client-focused.
Your portfolio boasts of some excellent architectural as well as interior works. The strength of which is focused towards a user experience that is sensible, contextual and relevant through an emphasis on design detailing and functionality irrespective of its scale. How do you manage to bring out these varied effects in your work?
The firm, ABM Architects has evolved over the years. During the first 2 decades of our operation, the firm's co-founder Architect Alankar Bhushan, was instrumental in the development of our signature design aesthetic. My talent lay in nurturing a number of talented Architects and Interior Designers, many of whom still work with us today. They helped me develop the design direction and work culture of ABM.
Our approach was, and still is, rather simple - we pay equal attention to all projects, irrespective of their scale. We keenly understand our Clients' needs, the project site, the surrounding context, functionality, and costs. We detail our work immaculately, which enables us to obtain equally good results in execution. We pride ourselves in the fact that most of our projects have stood the test of time and even today, most don’t look dated.
When one starts off with a new practice there is always this drive to prove yourself by achieving certain goals. Almost five decades later is there something that you still look forward to doing?
I still try to produce design which is timeless, practical to use and implement, and cost-effective at the same time. This was my goal when I started ABM, and is what keeps it going almost 50 years later.
Over the years, how has your approach towards projects evolved , especially with advancement in technology and materials, in allowing you to fully realize the full scope of your creative vision?
My approach to design has certainly changed over the years, but the underlying principals of form-making and proportions are the same. This has enabled ABM to curate a cohesive portfolio of projects. What has impacted our processes significantly, is technology - I constantly consider how it has changed design production tools, and also the way work and living spaces are used. Also, our growing access to materials from across the world has added a certain international look to our work.
How would you describe your firms contribution to the built environment in India?
ABM's goal has never been to change the skyline of Mumbai - our primary motivation is to be proud of our design contributions to all projects we have been involved with, no matter what the scale.
With your daughter, Aahana Miller joining ABM, has the firm developed a new direction and perspective towards projects because of her own experiences? What’s it like working with her?
In fact, both my daughters, Aahana and Aashti have joined the firm. Since they have varied educational backgrounds and professional exposure, they are able to bring in fresh ideas on design and unique presentation tools (and, of course, help me to manage the firm). There is, however, a large generation gap between us, but we try to find the middle ground.
Young architects and designers often face a hard time getting those breakthrough projects. What would be your advice to them? What would be the correct way to go about it?
Breaking through is difficult, given the number of designers who qualify each year. My advice to them is to focus on design and constructibility of their projects equally. Before venturing out on their own, I feel that it is a good idea to work under someone first and learn the various facets of design, construction, and management of people and money.
What changes would you suggest to architecture and design education in India?
Initial education must be focused on the general design, and then specialisation can be pursued later. I cannot emphasize enough how important these fundamentals are, especially in the earlier stages of life and education.
Q : TDC
A: Alfaz Miller