Sunday, December 25, 2011

Siza Sings

Siza sings | Film by Fernando Guerra from Ășltimas reportagens on Vimeo.
The delight of design...or maybe he is just working on labour hours, resourcing, project management, budgeting and other things of "real" consequence and importance in global design offices?
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year.

Guglee food cart and Menu

Small project done few months back in collaboration with Nora.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


(Elevation of the Asian side of Istanbul as seen from the Bosphorus)
Few weeks back in India some of my friends (who are planners) and me were involved in a debate around possible development trajectory for cities with large percentage of informal housing, multiple tenancies, incremental development etc. Our discussion was mostly around Bombay and how 67% of it is informal with an additional 20% old city housing and so acknowledging it to be a 'slum city' or 'informal city' could be a first step towards finding the right solutions. Seeing the role of the designer under threat and not really believing in 'people / community knows best' I tried to defend otherwise, but after my recent visit to Istanbul, I believe maybe there is a possibility of developing multiple decentralised solutions that incorporate the presence of the informal and at the same time have a diversity of design intervention that plug into such a landscape...
...its all up to our favourite underpaid intern sitting in some basement to crack this now....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Windows to the city

The image of the window travelling across the room as the headlights from passing traffic projected a pattern of light and shadow, splicing the air in the room into thin slices, is a memory that I carry of the place I lived for the first 8-10 years of my life. Since then there have been many windows of many houses that framed my hopes, inspired new desires and provided voyeuristic vantage points of the places I inhabited.

The window becomes a plane on which our eyes often come to rest, framing the outside environment, superimposed by the reflections of the inside and all this further abstracted by our own contemplations, like Casper David Friedrich's 'Wanderer above the Sea of Fog' (1818) we look out towards the city taking pride in our vantage point and nurturing ambitions to understand and live the city, yet another day. No wonder the scene of Danny Boyle's Jamal Malik looking over Hiranandani landscape becomes an image that summarizes the scale of ambition.
And while we watch, the city too invades our most personal spaces like Umberto Boccioni's painting 'The Street Enters the House' (1911). It is this plane of the window that becomes the Wayang kulit stage for the different dialectics of inside/outside, private/public, us/them, etc to be shaped/narrated out by the dalang who sits behind the screen. 
It is no coincidence that the window is an important element in many surrealist paintings like Magritte's 'Promenades of Euclid' or Salvador Dali's 'Figure at the Window'.
From Nora's student accommodation window (2008)
While moving into a new home, the concern for what one sees outside through its windows is as important as what is seen inside, and maybe it is these imaginary lines/axes/angles that connect our microcosms to heavenly bodies that move across the skies and anchor them to the ground. 
It very often is not as heroic a view or as picture perfect an angle as I am making it out to be, but that is one framed view that we see day in and day out for a span of as long as we stay in that place designated as home. Having blessed with friends who come from different cities of the world who were kind enough to share their windows to their cities to which they come back to at the end of their day, here is what we see..during different times of the day/season/festivals/events...

Chomchon's window in Sheffield, UK
Hardik's window in Ahmedabad, India
Outside Hiroshi's window in Hirao, Yamaguchi, Japan
Hiroyuki's window NY, US
Kiavash's window Vancouver, Canada
Michelle's window in Hong Kong
Namrata's window in UC Berkeley, US
Panayiota's window in Nikosia, Cyprus
Ranjit's window during monsoon in Bombay, India
Sahil's window during Diwali in Bombay, India.
My window in Bombay, India
My window in London in 2009 during winter, UK
Dominyka's window in Vilnius, Lithuania

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The other day i got angry at a font...

I found here, that graphic designer by the name Wim Crouwel said "Helvetica was a real step from the 19th century typeface... We were impressed by that because it was more neutral, and neutralism was a word that we loved. It should be neutral. It shouldn't have a meaning in itself. The meaning is in the content of the text and not in the typeface."
This sentence to me sums up all efforts being made to design the ultimate neutrality right from fonts, built form to day to day conversations, a fantastic example of how in the absence of means to reconcile contradictions the only way forward is polite neutrality of liberal capitalism. And guess coincidentally which companies have it in their logos...
Fuck Helvetica!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

City at crossroads

While working on a regeneration project in Sao Paulo, its modernist grid, dense urban fabric and wide vehicular road network makes for obvious comparisons to New York. I have visited neither of the cities but only attempt to construct very vague ideas of them based on different media and people who do visit and narrate experiences of having been and lived there.

One of the few things that intrigued me during the course of the project was the difference in nature of the  (Google) satellite images for New York and Sao Paulo. It isn't something that one notices immediately but I feel it could be metaphorical of the dissimilarity between the two cities. While the New York grid lies all in single plane, with every skyscraper casting its shadow at exactly the same angle as the entire city is bathed in the warm sunlight, Sao Paulo's multi coloured towers criss cross with one another to hide and reveal nooks and crevices, private courtyards, hidden pockets of lush greenery etc. The ground plane seems to modulate and fold as it attempts to balance these towers that like shards rise above in multiple directions. The schism between the overwhelming complexity of the site and an extremely advanced technology of 'eye' in the sky is apparent, as even such a technological advancement struggles to find apt representations for this particular human conglomeration. The acknowledgement of this complexity turns the satellite image into a multiple point perspective collage that attempts to voyeur into the 'local'. 
Through the course of the project these confrontational complexities within the site seemed to seep not only in the satellite imagery but also within the design, the collaborations and finally the aggressive global capital that tries to spread its roots in the fabric of the city...making the site of urban intervention an extremely contested territory with multiple points of perspective.
One of the very few projects in the professional space that I thoroughly enjoyed working on. It was very similar to the Regeneration project that I was a part of in Bombay but with only more amplified conditions of densities, dilapidation and pressure towards urban cleansing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rooster's Coop

(Data from HMRC 2004-2005; incomes are before tax for individuals. The personal allowance or income tax threshold was £4,745 (people with incomes below this level did not pay income tax). The mean income was £22,800 per year with the average Briton paying £4,060 in income tax.
Above are the tax ranges, by population and the percentage they constitute. This income does not cover assets owned.)

The difference in earnings is not a gradual gradient, it reveals numbers that are highly polarised. This rather vulgar statistic with top 5 percent earning 60-70% of the income while the rest having to share from the trickle down scraps according to me is far more violent than the London riots few days back. 
A majority of rioters took to looting, as one of the article called them 'disqualified consumers' implying, they too like most of us were consumers but having lost the power to afford had been disqualified. In the absence of any support from the student unions or intellectuals in the city who have distanced themselves from this underclass, the only form of mass unrest possible will be the one with no structure, no intent and no complete contradiction to the student protests that took place few months back. This contradiction makes it even more important for the two groups to come together...
While David Cameron made a speech filled with hate, and the opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband seemed to be weighing words completely based on popular public opinion, one person out there somewhere makes complete sense of what happened and why...below is the video of the interview.
In such a scenario I often find myself agreeing with Kostas's argumentum baculinum solutions.