Talking Design with Ashiesh Shah
“Nothing is permanent, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect”
In our series on ‘Talking Design’, we look at industry mavericks who have made notable contributions and have reshaped the design scene in India. Stay tuned for more…
Ashiesh Shah is an award-winning architect and interior designer based out of Mumbai. His notable projects include the luxury store Le Mill and the restaurant Nido. Known for his ability to adapt an international aesthetic to Indian design sensibilities, he is one of the contributors for Verve‘s upcoming design issue. Shah discusses his influences and inspirations…
What led you to become a designer?
“I can’t remember a day from my childhood where I wasn’t doodling on a piece of paper or using things around me to create interesting objects. I come from a family of doctors, so when it came to making that big career decision, medicine seemed like the right choice. When I was studying dentistry, I realised quite early on that it wasn’t something I felt passionately about. It didn’t allow the kind of free thinking and creativity that fields like architecture and design do. I needed to be creating something, and architecture seemed like the right choice. With time I became more interested in design-based practices.”
What does design mean to you?
“To me, design is all about creating a balance of elements.”
What are the themes and concerns that drive your practice?
“My practice has evolved over the years but what has remained constant, is my belief in the philosophy of Wabi Sabi. The Japanese concept is derived from Buddhist teachings. It is the aesthetic of a beauty that is imperfect and incomplete. Asymmetry and asperity play a major role and I appreciate spaces that incorporate natural objects and processes. Nothing is permanent, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.”
How has the field and its perception changed from when you started out?
“There have been some major changes over the past few years. I think several factors have contributed to this evolution, such as awareness, and the significant amount of information available on design. People in developing countries like India have seen a rise in their disposable income. And there has been a steady growth in people’s desire to collect real design and art pieces for their home. A direct result of this much-awaited shift in the market is a rejuvenation of young, homegrown talent in fields like art, design and even fashion.”
What are some changes that you’d like to see in Indian design?
“Rather that seizing the space and modifying it to fit someone, designers in the West create and design structures for the space itself. Staying true to the space is essential if one is to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality. I think that designers here in India are still struggling with this. I also think the idea of India needs to evolve — mixing the traditional with the new is the way forward.”
What inspires you? Is there a specific object, technique, place, event that really encapsulates your design sensibility?
“There are a lot of different periods I find inspiring and often look at art, architecture, design, literature through them. My work doesn’t make direct references to any particular place, designer, architect or artist but they become important elements in my creative process. I think some of Le Corbusier’s work is pure genius, with respect to both material and form. I’m also influenced by modern movements like the Bauhaus.”
Who are some people whose work you admire?
“Le Corbusier, Louis Khan, Tadao Ando.”
In the world of Indian design, who do you see as a rising star?
“Shift by Nimish Shah, Rimzim Dadu, Misho by Suhani Parekh, Paul Matter by Nikhil Paul.”
A promising young designer is…
“MISHO by Suhani Parekh (jewellery design)”
Have you read about Valérie Barkowski from our ‘Talking Design’ series? Check it out here.
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