Ar. Sumeet Nath of Studio US Design talks about his design journey, his love for hospitality projects and other interests in an interview with Nisha Shukla
Founded in the year 1997, Studio US Design is the brain child of the renowned architect Sumeet Nath. The studio is better known for its comprehensive design services both in architecture and interiors. In terms of projects, the studio specialises in restaurant and hospitality projects along with an array of residential and commercial projects. The décor division of the studio is headed by Sumeet’s wife Aanchal Gulati Nath, who has also been a decor columnist for a renowned newspaper. The firm has to its credit some visually stunning designed venues such as Shalom, Laid backwaters, Kylin, Soi 7, Raasta, Amour,Tamarai (London) , Stricker, F bar and Lounge amongst numerous others. In the following interview, he talks about his passion for hospitality designs and his other interests.
Tell us about yourself. Explain your journey to the design world and what compelled you to enter this field?
When I was in 12th class, we had a career counselling session by a prominent architect who was invited in our school to share his experience about his professional life and architectural firm. After listening to his inspirational talk, I decided to pursue a career in architecture.
Tell us about your firm Studio US Design. When did it start and how has been your journey so far?
After completing my architectural degree in 1997, I and my few friends decided to set up a practice which we named Studio ‘US’ Design. After few years, my other partners went their own ways, but still we have retained the name of our company and it has become synonymous with our work.
How has your design philosophy evolved over time?
There cannot be a fixed design philosophy as design is very subjective and depends upon many factors that influence it. One of the things I follow is that I always try to integrate design with functionality and without this one cannot achieve a good design.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I mostly seek inspiration when I am travelling to different parts of the world. Travelling to places helps me to discover varied aesthetic styles and it really opens one’s mind to new possibilities.
You have a bouquet of projects to your credit-residential, retail, hospitality and restaurant etc. What type of projects do you particularly enjoy the most?
I definitely enjoy designing for the Hospitality Industry the most. Being a passionate consumer, it makes a big difference to the way I see and approach design.
Describe your signature design?
It is very difficult for me to describe my signature design.But, one thing I do take pride in isspatial design. For me design always evolves from the spatial characteristics of space as I believe that every space has a soul.
What is the influence of international architecture/ design on the Hospitality industry?
There is a major influence of international design on the hospitality industry. In terms of design, the Indian hospitality industry is very nascent as compared to the west and thus it has been dependent on the tried and tested design rules from the West. But even this scenario is changing slowly now and one can see a lot of fresh innovation coming in the Indian hospitality design.
Any notable change you would like to bring in Indian architecture?
The quality of professional education in the field needs an overhaul. Over the years, I have found that the training even in the best institutes lacks practicality, functionality and it needs to be upgraded constantly to keep up with new innovations.
Which project was very challenging for you so far?
One of the challenging projects we have done so far was a boutique hotel named ‘The Vintage’ in Gulmarg. The major challenge was to find and transport the materials here. Beside it was also difficult to get manpowerto this area in winters as the climate is extremely cold here. Because of these limitations, the project took much longer than anticipated but it did not affect the vision and design of the hotel, in fact some limitations led us to explore new possibilities that worked out better in the end.
If not an architect, then you would have been…
A chef or a DJ or may be both together
Any particular artist/architect/innovator whose works you most admire?
Amongst my contemporaries I admire Ayaaz Basrai’s work the most.
Which project has been most memorable and has taught you an important lesson in practice?
One of the most memorable projects has been the Shalom series of restaurants. I remember very well for the first one in Delhi, no design drawings were made and the place was constructed purely through instructions given on the site and this process was exhilarating and frightening at the same time for us.
What is the one design mistake you avoid in your practice?
Unthoughtful service planning
What interests you outside work?
Golf, mixing music and travelling with my daughter
Any historical monument/ building that has impressed you and inspired you?
Some contemporary hotels that I have visited in the past few years, especially some Alila properties have opened my eyes to looking at design differently.
How do you strike work-life balance?
I don’t distinguish between the two.
Tell us about your current projects?
Right now, I am busy with The Playboy Super club in Delhi, A boutique hotel property in Goa and a Plush Bar and lounge in Kolkata.
Share one piece of advice to the upcoming architect or designer.
Good design cannot be learnt but rather lived.
By Nisha Shukla