Whether it was setting up home offices, building cosy corners or even glamming up the spaces — as people spent more time indoors during the lockdown, home renovations became the new trend. With so many potential projects, several new entrepreneurs decided to launch their own design studios and architecture firms. LuxeBook speaks to these up-and-coming entrepreneurs to understand how they executed their dreams amidst a raging pandemic.
Amrutha Kishor, Elemental
Fascinated by spaces and architectural designs, Amrutha Kishor pursued a Masters in Architecture from Nottingham University in the UK. Soon after, she worked with several firms in Dubai, Bangalore and UK, before opening up her own practice — Elemental, in Kottayam, Kerala.
While pursuing her masters, Kishor recognised the significance of sustainability in architectural design, which later became the base for her practice. “It was like finding a missing puzzle piece,” she says.
Her first stand-alone project, ‘EcoHouse’ laid the foundation for her very own firm ‘Elemental’ which was launched in July 2020, post the completion of the EcoHouse project.
One of the things that individualize Elemental is their focus on climate-responsive architecture and critical regionalism, with clients who are passionate about living sustainably.
Her debut project completed recently — the EcoHouse in Kerala — was built in a way where the house can cool itself without any air conditioning. A wind-tower exhaust above the central staircase as well as a mechanical exhaust system fitted in the bedrooms, help suck out the hot air along to provide an effective cross-ventilation system that helps keep the house adequately airy.
Currently, Elemental has several ongoing projects including four climate-responsive residences, a college campus which is being turned into a green campus and an interior design project in Texas, USA.
Ankita Thadani, AT Design Studio
From a very early age, Ankita Thadani had her heart set upon architecture and design. She pursued a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, and has been a practising architect for almost ten years.
After completing her architecture course at the Rachana Sansad, Thadani began working for GA Design in Chembur, where she became the firm’s youngest associate. During her time at the Mumbai-based firm, she’d assisted with developing high-end residential projects for ultra-HNI clients such as Sanjiv Bajaj and Anil Ambani.
After working with GA Design for a little less than a decade, Thadani finally decided to start her own firm— AT Design Studio in January 2020. Following a minimalist aesthetic, the prospective projects at AT Design Studio include mostly residential and hospitality projects, since that was familiar ground for her with her years of experience in the same.
Despite a few setbacks during the pandemic, AT Design sustained the momentum and some more, as it bagged several projects from plush residences to hotels. Their most recent project ‘M Residence’ is a 2400 sq. ft. residence in Mumbai. Imbued by a strictly minimal design scheme with a dash of sophistication, the house was designed keeping in mind the twin elements of functionality and comfort.
With muted tones of greys and browns, the apartment uniquely experiments with art and lighting that play a crucial role in enhancing the space.
Baijul and Harsh Rathod, Dot Concept
Surrounded by a family of architects and designers, both Harsh and Baijul pursued a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Pillai’s College of Architecture.
Before starting their own venture, Harsh worked with P.G. Patki architects while Baijul was a part of Pentaspace consultants. This served as a perfect base for both of them, as it imparted immense knowledge about a range of projects.
In July 2020, DOT Concept was officially launched. While they enjoy experimenting with new ideas and designs, Dot concept maintains a focus on functionality and the value of space. Despite the pandemic, the company did not suffer as people were investing in residential properties which generated a number of projects for them.
Their most recently completed project, ‘The Bohemian House’ is a 650sq. ft. apartment in Ghatkopar. A functional home with abundant storage space, the house includes modern, elegant and bohemian designs. The overall colour palette was neutral with a few hints of blues and greens which brought out the Bohemian aesthetic.
Currently, DOT Concept is working on several projects including ane commercial office in Chembur and a 4BHK residence in Juhu and a 3BHK residence in Vikhroli.
Neha Rajora, Neha Rajora Designs
Born in the pink city of Jaipur, Neha Rajora grew up exploring beautiful forts, palaces and ancient gardens. It was her fascination with these spaces that got her into the field of architecture. She pursued a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA (UIUC). Under the guidance of Professor Amita Sinha at UIUC, she worked on her master’s thesis project ‘Vision, movement and landscape experience in princely town of Amber, India’ which was widely acclaimed and published in various landscape and architecture journals.
During her undergraduate years, Rajora landed an internship at veteran architect BV Doshi’s firm Vastu Shilpa Consultants. This opportunity, she believes, was a foundational experience for her career in architecture which made her explore the intricacies of complex spaces, and incorporating a sense of openness in a structure. She also worked at an Austin-based landscape architecture firm in Texas, for a year and a half, working on various landscape architecture projects including residential, commercial, urban and streetscapes.
She set up her own practice ‘Neha Rajora Designs’ in July 2019. The Ahmedabad-based firm specialises in boutique architecture, landscaping, and interior designing — striking a balance between contemporary architecture and traditional Indian aesthetics. It combines modern forms and materials with vernacular influences from various environmental aspects.
Her most recently completed project — a 25×50 Courtyard House in Jaipur was designed for an elderly couple on their old house site. The overall design of the house was derived from a reinterpreted traditional courtyard house of Rajasthan with inward orientation and spaces opening up in the courtyard. The courtyard naturally ventilates and illuminates the different areas of the house, while also becoming the focal point of the house.
Twisha Thakker, T.T.D.S
Twisha Thakker was drawn towards interior designing during her school days when her home was renovated, and fascinated with the dynamic nature of the profession, she decided to pursue an Interior Designing Course from Rachana Sansad School of Design in Mumbai.
Being in the field of interior designing for almost 11 years, Thakker has worked with several renowned names such as Ashiesh Shah, Binita Mehta and Livspace — who she credits in teaching her a great deal about the subtle art of interior designing. Thakker had even received an award for the best designer during her tenure with Livspace in the year 2017.
In June 2019, she finally launched her own studio — T.T.D.S (Twisha Thakker Design Studio) — an end-to-end design studio that offers personalised spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional.
Soon after the launch of her studio, Thakker bagged her first project— a 3BHK apartment in the upscale locality of Malabar Hill in Mumbai, which was approximately 1300sqft. She called the project ‘a girl’s blue den’ and believes it will always hold a special place in her career as an independent professional.
Her most recent project ‘What the view!’ is a 1300 sq. ft., 3BHK apartment in Malabar Hill. Exuding a soft and warm ambience, the entire apartment is furnished with Italian marble and natural teak wood. The house features numerous Tanjore and canvas paintings to match the client’s artistic inclinations. Warm colour schemes replete with colourful furnishings and wide glass windows allow natural light in the apartment.
Earlier this year, in March 2021 Thakker was awarded the ‘Most Promising and Creative Interior Designer of the Year 2021’ Maharashtra Award under Residential Projects, presented by the National Architecture and Interior Design Excellence Awards 2021.
Shantanu Waykar, S.ALT Atelier
Inspired by the idea of narrating stories through a home, Shantanu Waykar pursued interior designing from MMSID (Marathwada Mitra Mandal’s School of Interior Design) in Pune.
Post the completion of his 2-year diploma course, Waykar worked with several companies like JOSMO Studio as a Jr. Furniture and Interior Designer, and Livspace where he worked for four years before setting up his own studio.
Although the idea for S.ALT was conceptualized in 2015, it was only launched in June 2020. Located in Pune, S.ALT is rooted in a highly collaborative process that is deeply personal which results in sophisticated spaces that reflect each client’s personality and their preferences.