So I designed a kitchen…

…and it didn’t suck. (hopefully)

This post is mostly a look back at the experience of our 2nd semester kitchen design exercise from college.

I still remember the excitement around the class – there was the apprehension of doing our first “real” design, but mostly there was also the impatience to release all the pent up “architectural” ideas from the last basic design semester waiting to be released.

First bump on the road – “client profile“. My initial reaction was does it even matter? Just design for the ‘bachelor’ that you’re asked to! This proved to be highly entertaining however; going around the class reading the rich backstories that my classmates had formed for each member of their family. A lot of them didn’t make sense. I couldn’t tell the difference a kitchen would have if the homecoming son was from the US or Uganda or if the dog in the house was a labrador or a pekinese, but I digress. All of these probably signaled at design nuances I was unable to grasp back then. I finally decided on a bachelor client who also films cookery shows for a living, and no he didn’t have any shady backstories.

Next came the design study phase. My hands were itching to start “designing” already, but what did I know. Material studies, Work triangles, Time-usage analysis diagrams and so on.  I found it difficult to digest that a space we’re used to everyday can have so much “work” behind it. Then came the really interesting part – my seniors wanted me to do live case studies. I remember calling up random bachelor relatives to ask what they “wanted” from their kitchen. If you ask me now, it’s food that makes itself, but I digress again.

Then came the stage I was waiting for – the actual ‘designing’ part – and I was stuck. I had absolutely no clue how to proceed. Then came one of the most entertaining stages in any design exercise – calling up friends to see how much they’ve done, frantically rushing off to seniors’ homes hoping for a “how-to” or a “crash course” on design, imagining giving it all up and thinking maybe architecture isn’t a good option for you at all. If there was a ‘Design for Dummies’ book at that stage I’d have probably read it.

The one week leading up to the submission was intense. I did and undid and redid my design till it hurt; and with a LOT of help from my seniors, I was able to package and submit a design eventually.

So what were my takeaways from my 2 month long, initial design exercise?

  • Iteration, iteration, iteration! Even if it ain’t broke, fix it till it squeaks.
  • People don’t know they want good design till they see it.
  • The narrower you focus your intent, the more options open up to you.

There are probably more.

How was your first design exercise like? Share it in the comments below 🙂

“Critically” speaking

Somehow I never really got to understand what being “critical” was all about. “Critical thinking” and “Critical speaking” were all terms being thrown around in college but I only had a vague idea of what it all meant.

(And no, this is not a post complaining about the system 😛 )

If you’re as confused as me, I found a couple of videos that might help:

Recently we got the chance to attend a talk by film critic and journalist Baradwaj Rangan. The talk was informative in the sense that it allowed us to explore architecture not just as a prop or a storytelling device, but as markers of the society and time itself.

However my takeaway from the talk wasn’t any coalition of architecture and cinema – it was cinema itself, and the multiple and nuanced ways of looking at it. It was about how this may inform the ways that we look at architecture itself – both as a layman and as someone in the field. (The Architecture of Immersiveness talked about similar ideas, so you may want to check that out.)

Baradwaj sir talked about celebrating cinema as it is – a straight up narrative device – but also how going beyond and looking “critically” at it can reveal much more. No movie is a single person’s (director) effort; and the collaborative effort in cinema opens it up to multiple interpretations. One interesting point which came up was that a lot of these interpretations needn’t have anything to do with what the director is trying to “say”.

I couldn’t help but draw analogies to architecture (I know I’ve been doing it for all the posts I do, bear with me 🙂 ) Architecture rarely tells stories straightaway unlike cinema. It is experiential, naturally open to multiple interpretations, and intensely personal to each person – why aren’t we as the general public more critical about it? I mean, if we consider them purely as art forms – architecture, cinema and music have the widest outreach to the public right?

So where do the parallels end? Commercial mass market cinema is entirely consumption driven – if people are able to relate to the story the director was trying to portray in the way he was doing it, it is usually a hit. Commercial architecture isn’t too dissimilar – if it solves a problem the architect or developer says exists, it is lapped up quickly by the public. There is no avenue for multiple interpretations here, no real need for them.

But then once in a while comes a gem of a movie which makes everyone happy – critics, public, director, producer, everyone. If we’re able to critically look at such movies, maybe we can find something to be translated. To produce buildings that the public love to live in and talk about. 

21 revelations from my first year at SAP

The title of this article is partly jest; most of these aren’t revelations, no. This was an article I had written almost at the end of my first year to submit to the SAP Annual Magazine. Wasn’t published. Well now I know the positive points of having my own blog. 😉

Purely for laughs – I look at what I’d written a couple of years ago and it’s still funny (for me).

  • If you cut yourself while making a model, the first thing you think is “must not bleed on model”.
  • The statement “But it’s only 1 AM..” seems normal and perfectly reasonable.
  • Respect to seniors isn’t lost by using first names.
  • You don’t have to be a dancer to dance.
  • Architectural human figures aren’t stick figures.
  • Filling a box with freehand vertical lines is harder than it seems.
  • Loud music and enough work can pull off 3 all nighters in a row.
  • AND what it means to look and walk like a zombie afterwards.
  • Pillars aren’t pillars, they’re columns.
  • Your parents don’t share your sentiments about your bathing schedule.
  • Your ‘night life’ isn’t quite what they show in the movies.
  • Facebook groups turn out real useful for exchanging last minute notes.
  • AND, by extension, it isn’t odd to find just your classmates online at 3:30 AM.
  • BC and AD don’t mean Before Christ and Anno Domini, no.
  • The movie ‘Inception’ intrigues you more because Ariadne was an architect.
  • You feel you’ve learnt enough to laugh at out of place doric orders, when you see them.
  • ‘Why this Kolaveri’ and ‘Sadda Haq’ seem the perfect background scores for every occasion.
  • You get irritated  when you complain to your school friends about your workload and all they say is “But you just have to draw!”
  • You realise it’s possible to get up at 8:30 and be in class by 8:40 – if you skip the essentials, that is.
  • NASA, the one you know now, isn’t going to make you an astronaut, by any chance.
  • You realise that 1 mm makes all the difference in the world while making a cube.
  • Space isn’t outer space, form isn’t Tendulkar’s form, model isn’t Priyanka Chopra, scale isn’t the 15 cm one you used to carry around, groove isn’t what you do to a beat, and no, butter sheets aren’t the one you use to bake.