TADstories with Jay Thakkar I J Architects

J Architects is a well-established Vadodara-based architecture and interior studio, led by Ar. Jay Thakkar. In this following interview, Jay elaborates on his design journey and what influenced him to strive in the construction and design industry.

J Architects is an architecture studio, that also practices interior design. In this conversation with The Architects Diary, Jay explains how his interest in the field came naturally and how the journey began for him. Vadodara comprises various up-and-coming designers and J Architects is surely making its mark through its clear design philosophy and ambitious approach to future plans.

Who is Jay Thakkar? How did you get into this field?

My passion for construction and architecture stems from a combination of personal experiences and family background. Growing up, my father was involved in the construction industry, which naturally sparked my interest in buildings and the process of creating them. Additionally, a memorable trip to the UK during my final year of school left a lasting impression on me. Witnessing the captivating British architecture ignited a strong sense of curiosity and a desire to delve deeper into the world of building design.

As an individual, I embrace simplicity and minimalism. I have a distaste for unnecessary drama and superficial displays of grandeur, and these values are evident in my approach to design. When creating architectural concepts, my focus is always on practicality, timelessness, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal. I strive to develop designs that not only serve their purpose effectively but also stand the test of time and contribute positively to the environment.

How did you get your first project and what was it?

During my college years, I had the opportunity to gain practical experience through freelance work. I collaborated with a partner, and through a common friend who knew about my skills, I was offered my first individual project. This project involved designing the interiors for a 230 sqft office for a client who owned a travel agency. The challenging aspect was that we had a limited budget of just 90,000 rupees.

Despite the budget constraints, I took the challenge and successfully completed the project within the given financial limitations. To my delight, many visitors to the office assumed that the design had been executed with a budget five times higher than what we had actually spent. This experience taught me a valuable lesson: appearances can be deceiving, and it reinforced the idea that not everything that shines is necessarily expensive.

This early project not only allowed me to showcase my creative abilities and problem-solving skills, but it also instilled in me a sense of resourcefulness and the importance of maximizing value within limited means. It served as a reminder that thoughtful planning, smart decision-making, and creativity can lead to impressive outcomes, even when working with modest resources.

In recent times, almost all architects are working with exposed concrete and natural materials. What is your design approach and signature style regarding this?

I find exposed concrete and natural materials to be timeless and universally appealing. While they inspire me, I prefer to incorporate them in a balanced way rather than making them my signature. My personal style leans towards meticulous planning, axial layouts, and incorporating straight lines. And, I strive to achieve a harmonious balance between nature and indoor spaces in my designs. This approach allows me to create enduring and functional spaces that resonate with clients’ desires.

In the past few years, especially after covid, there has been a rapid change in residential design trends. What is one trend change that you would like to see in the field and one that you would never like to change?

The pandemic heightened the need for safety-conscious home design, with a particular emphasis on a dedicated foyer and indirect entry. This trend, embraced by doctors and our ongoing projects, addresses concerns about infection risks and should remain constant. Another thriving trend is the integration of office spaces within homes, driven by the rise of remote work. Many clients now seek separate study or office areas in their rooms, recognizing the practicality and functionality of this approach. Personally, I welcome this trend as it aligns with the evolving work landscape and enhances productivity. These trends reflect a shift towards adaptable and safe living spaces.

Nowadays there are numerous online platforms to get inspired and get ideas. How do you cater to the client’s requirements regarding your style of design?  

In today’s world, where there is an abundance of design ideas, we consider ourselves fortunate to have experienced a reverse trend. Many of our clients have approached us after being inspired by our designs showcased on social media platforms. They specifically expressed a desire for simple and minimalistic designs for their spaces. We find it gratifying that our clients are already drawing to our style, and there is no need for extensive persuasion. Hence, it aligns perfectly with our approach and allows us to create spaces that reflect our signature aesthetic while meeting the clients’ preferences.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to transforming a given space into a masterpiece?  

In the face of limited plot sizes and diverse requirements, we excel at maximizing space utilization. Despite clients’ long lists of spaces and furniture, we adopt a multi-functional design approach. By suggesting practical needs and optimizing the carpet area, we ensure their requirements are met without compromising functionality.

If you had the opportunity to design a dream project, what would it be and why? 

My dream project combines my roles as both architect and builder to create affordable and sustainable housing for the Low-Income Group (LIG) and Middle-Income Group (MIG) in India. These segments represent the majority and face significant challenges due to limited budgets in the real estate market. While the High-Income Group (HIG) often enjoys abundant choices, the same is not true for the LIG and MIG. I aim to provide them with the experience of luxury living within their budget constraints. It is my passion to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality, comfortable, and affordable housing options.

Nowadays collaborations are in trend. If you had the opportunity to collaborate with another designer, who would it be and what would you create?

I have always been greatly inspired by Dipen Gada. I am particularly passionate of his work, as I closely follow his posts on Instagram. His insightful opinions on various urban developments, including those carried out by the government in Vadodara and other cities, are truly inspiring. Collaborating with Ar. Dipen Gada on an urban project with the government can be a dream come true for me. The opportunity to work together, combining our perspectives, and most importantly, it would be a great chance to learn from him. This would undoubtedly result in a remarkable contribution to urban development.

Our readers are always looking forward to learning from the best. What advice would you give to upcoming designers or startups? 

Understanding the client thoroughly is indeed crucial for a successful design outcome. As, at J Architects, prior to commencing any project, we essentially dedicate ample time to activities that facilitate a deeper understanding of the client. Engaging in activities such as showcasing previous projects, creating presentations, and engaging in extensive conversations enables us to grasp their preferences and requirements more comprehensively. By investing this time and effort into understanding our clients’ tastes and needs, we can ensure that the final design aligns with their vision and delivers a satisfying result. Ultimately, a thorough understanding of the client is the foundation for achieving a successful design outcome.

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