Architect and Product Designer Arjun Rathi believes Good Design should be functional and appeal to the client’s emotional responses.
The idea of good design gets exemplified when the user has an emotional connect with the object believes Designer Arjun Rathi. The young designer who has worked with design greats like Antonio Gaudi and Alvar Alto heads Arjun Rathi Designs, a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Mumbai.
From a young age Arjun wanted to become an architect and eventually contribute to the Mumbai skyline. In an effort to realise this goal he studied architecture at the Kamala Raheja College of Architecture and took up work internships in India and abroad. It was here he understood the importance and inter-connections of the para-disciplinary fields like interiors and product with architecture; which lead to the evolution of his multi-disciplinary design studio.
The core USP of his design studio lies in the selection and usage of materials. Apt attention is given to the form and design of the end product to ensure it defines exclusivity. One of his latest creations which proves this fact is the Cast Glass Side Table. The material was chosen owing to its likeness to frozen ice. The stand on which it is placed makes use of sacred geometry. Sacred Geometry is associated with the belief that a god is the geometer of the world; the co-ordinates of sacred geometry are immensely used in the design and construction of religious structures.
Many products made by the studio have an aura of antiquity which is achieved through its design and finishes. Says Arjun, “As a studio, we have been experimenting a lot with home-made and lab chemicals and their effects on metals to create various patinas and finishes. We apply these finishes to our pieces as they accentuate the narrative or story we tell with the piece” One of his recent products which revel in antiquity is the Reading Chair. The chair was a retake on the antique rattan and wood reading chairs. The inlay work in brass was added to accentuate the form and the support the context of the room the chair was placed in. Some more prominent products designed by Arjun’s studio include Cast Brass and Blown Glass light, the Geodesik series, the Budstan Temple and the Sacred Geometry Temple Series.
The Cast Brass and Blown Glass Light derives inspiration from tree branches. The blown glass was given a grey shade to contrast with the antique brass on the branches. In the Geodesik series, the lamp frame for the Geodesic Lamp I is a tribute to the “Hydro-Tower”. Whereas the Geodesic Lamp II is a minimalist interpretation of electricity poles used for transmission of electricity. The lamp juxtaposes the idea of electrical transmission and light. The Budstan Temple was designed for a client who was a Buddist and required a very minimal cabinet to house a prayer scroll. The colour and form for the Budstan was designed as per the context of the client’s room; with a small wooden drawer forming part of the base to allow for storage of prayer beads. Arjun’s fascination with sacred geometry is reflected in his temple series. The design dimension uses the number 7 to construct the temple form whereas the design form is inspired by the platonic solids associated with the seven chakras of body.
Over the years Arjun Rathi Studios has evolved as a custom design studio, this journey started when Rathi did his first customised work in lighting for Ar Ashiesh Shah. “He gave me the opportunity to experiment and learn through mistakes at his various sites which has allowed the studio to reach the high standard of quality we deliver today.” He says. One of the first products which propelled Arjun in the Hall of Fame is the Ambassador Lamp, initially planned as a gift for a friend; the light design evolved from his childhood nostalgia of the Ambassador Car. Though the product did not sell it brought him immense critical acclaim following which he was approached for numerous custom lighting commissions.
Though Arjun Rathi Design Studios has gained prominence over the years for product design, architecture is also a mainstay of the design firm, “The practice,” says Arjun, “always started with the idea to BUILD buildings and it eventually expanded into micro-design – products, lighting and furniture. We are working on a large 30,000 sq.ft bungalow design project in Gandhidham, Gujarat. Every proportion in the house and landscape has mathematically been calculated from the golden ratio and various proportions used in ancient structures. The process to derive the house design has been extremely exciting as we hope to explore the relation between holiness and living through this project. We are also working on a lot of the decorative lighting for the upcoming World Towers for Lodha. Some interesting forms across various materials like metals and glass have been experimented with for that site.”