• TADstories with Ar. Kunal Shah | Kunal Shah Architects

    Ar. Kunal Shah, the founder of Kunal Shah Architects shares his journey of choosing architecture and his curiosity for design.

    Kunal Shah Architects is an architecture firm based in Ahmedabad under the leadership of Kunal Shah. This firm is executing professional projects in the areas of Commercial Architecture and Interior Designing since 2004.

    In this conversation with the founder Ar. Kunal Shah, he reveals his way of practice and design philosophies in architecture and interior design.

    What is the story of your passion for design? 

    Frankly, back in the time when I was in 12th, there was no awareness regarding architecture or design as a career. There was no clarity as to what the course offers as it is today. During those times, it was only engineering and medical which was known by parents. After passing 12th grade, I used to go to universities and colleges with my friends to fill out their entrance exam forms. It was during this time that I discovered about CEPT university and the course of architecture.

    The Hussain Doshi Gufa, now known as Amdavad Ni Gufa, was quite an attraction even during those days. This place intrigued my interest in architecture and this is when I realized that architecture is the foundation of all such structures. Furthermore, I realized how vast architecture is and what impact architecture has on people and society. It was after joining the architecture college that I developed my deep passion for architecture.

    Store Design By Kunal Shah Architects

    What pushed you to commence your own architecture studio?

    Frankly, my family does not have any architecture or civil engineering background. So, I had to take the responsibility of taking forward my career with my own efforts. However, throughout my college days I was intrigued with the works of great architects like Achyut Kanvinde, Karan Grover, and Manoj Patel sir. I was quite keen on working with them and I joined Ar. Manoj Patel’s studio when I was in my 2nd year of graduation for part-time.

    After working for 2 years, I started working with Karan Grover sir for 8 months. I was in complete awe of how two architects with different styles of design, work together and achieve exemplary works. I always focused on what must their ideologies, philosophies and aims be, for them to work together and grow together. Thus, after learning from the legendary architects, I decided what specific field I want to tap into my design studio Kunal Shah Architects, which is commercial architecture.

    Journey of Design Process.

    Could you write in short about the philosophy you go with when designing a certain project?

    My inspiration for developing my design philosophy has evolved from my mentors. My work experience shaped my design philosophy and my firm Kunal Shah Architects. Later, I realized that in order to develop your design philosophy, you need to your back-end study in the right way and you need to look at case studies. My experience with the architects and designers helped me analyze that architects need to counsel the clients.

    Understanding the clients needs and requirements is of utmost importance. We need to understand the context of the project and take design decisions accordingly. So, for me the context and client understanding is of major importance which acts as my philosophy for designing any project.

    Store interior by Kunal Shah Architects

    With years of learning and practice in architecture, how did you evolve your design language?

    My design language is quite flexible. I believe every design is different considering the differences in client requirements, site context, purpose of the design and so many more factors. I do not design with fixed formulas but alter them according to situations. My firm is flexible working with curves, as well as working with linear geometry.

    What values do you prioritize in your life and how do they reflect in your way of work?

    I believe peace and satisfaction of work is the major value which helps me move forward. In today’s world, where the views on your project are more important than the work, says a lot about the kind of unwanted stress we are dealing with these days, as a society. For your work to reach a certain point, you need to have patience. Works of legendary architects like Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn also needed a certain patience for it to reach the right audience. To summarize, patience is quite important in personal as well as professional life.

    A Sneak Peek Into The Projects Done By Kunal Shah Architects

    Looking back at all the design projects you’ve worked on, which is the project that has made an impact on you?

    Currently, we are working on a project in Kolkata near Shantiniketan University named as Sobuj Patro meaning ‘Green Leaf’. This project was quite unique and understanding the culture of Bengalis and understanding their values was interesting. I had to deeply interact and thoroughly understand their culture and values in order to accomplish this design. This project helped me add to set of knowledge and it has created a lasting impact on my life.

    Commercial interior by Kunal Shah Architects

    Considering the quick paced lifestyle of today, how do you use technology to deal with the project challenges?

    I am not quite friendly with the technology or the developments in technology. Rather, I interact with the juniors in my office and try to understand from them what and how they use a certain advanced software. However, I always insist on working with hand drawn sketches prior to using any kind of software, because even to draw a single line on AutoCAD you need to have it on your paper to execute it. I believe architects should never let go of their hand drawn skills while chasing the technology and software.

    Could you share the story of a project which has truly challenged you go beyond your conventional style of approach?

    I believe its the diversity of clients which challenge your conventional style of approach. As I mentioned, the project in Kolkata was quite challenging. Furthermore, there was an interior project in Ahmedabad. The villa was 42,000 sq. feet in area. Unlike, the common situations where you design the interior for a bungalow considering the architecture, this case was different. It was a huge size of villa for four people. This in itself was quite challenging considering the limited number of people in a large space. It was essential for us to maintain the curiosity and interest with the interior within the residents. I had to step out of my conventional way of approach here.

    How do you think your projects can make a change in the way people perceive built spaces?

    I believe it’s not the projects of any one architect, rather it is a collective effort which can make a change. It is in the hands of architects, builder, engineers and everyone related to the AEC industry to bring about a change in the society by building better and choosing better.

    Residential architecture by Kunal Shah Architects

    Beyond Design!

    Apart from architecture, which are other hobbies that inspire you to keep going?

    I am an avid traveler. Travelling and photography are my passion and I try to choose or projects which give me a chance to travel and explore different cities. I have projects going in various parts of India and the reason for choosing these projects is most of times because of exploring the cities.

    What impact has the journey of architecture had on you personally?

    Architecture has given a boost to my confidence. Listening, connecting and talking to the diverse people since getting into architecture college has boosted my confidence to a greater level. Today, I can rightly say that architecture has made me confident in all the ways of life. Also, architecture made me realize that knowledge is more important than information, which I firmly believe.

    Looking ahead in future, what are some of the commitments to yourself to help you grow as an individual?

    There are days when I sometimes feel that I want to something beyond just architecture. Looking ahead in the future, I see myself in connection with the young architecture students. Not directly in a way to educate, but definitely to interact with them and have an exchange of knowledge.

    Beyond professional achievements, what personal legacy do you hope reaches the masses and can make an impact on their lives?

    I won’t really call this a legacy, but I strongly advocate that life is meant to be enjoyed completely. I believe that, we as humans need to stay connected with each other and be of each other’s help when necessary.

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