The Good Life

Aces of space

Meet the people who create living spaces for the wealthy

Shabnam Gupta, Mumbai 

The idea behind The Orange Lane, Shabnam Gupta’s design studio, is that complex problems can be solved with creative solutions. Each of Gupta’s projects has a theme, a definite storyline, and every object is part of a larger narrative. While almost every designer loves the idea of working with a large space, Gupta particularly likes the challenge of enlivening a smaller space. Over the last 11 years, Gupta has designed the homes of actors Rani Mukherjee and Raveena Tandon and director Aditya Chopra, as well the Lemongrass restaurant and Vidhu Vinod Chopra Films’ office, all in Mumbai.


Ashiesh Shah, Mumbai

Ashiesh Shah, 33, travelled frequently as a child, and was exposed to various styles of architecture and design. “Growing up, I knew that design was my true calling,” says Shah, who graduated from Parsons The New School for Design, in New York. Shah set up his first studio in a garage but, today, he and his team service an impressive portfolio of clients. He has designed workspaces for multinational conglomerates and homes, boutiques and restaurants across the subcontinent, including the Le Mill store and Nido Café, in Mumbai. “Urban India is slowly moving towards a design revival, and our spaces are becoming more attuned to international trends. They are greener, more efficient and community-driven. With the right blend of design ideas, both local and international, we are getting closer to creating a certain style for modern architecture design that is Indian in its true sense,” says Shah. His work reflects his many interests: photography, art and travel. 


Krupa and Zubin Zainuddin, Mumbai 

ZZ Architects, set up by the husband-and-wife team of Krupa Zubin and Zubin Zainuddin, is among India’s top architecture and design firms. While Zubin interned with Hafeez Contractor, Krupa worked with Sanjay Puri Architects. It was their house, which they designed together and which won the prestigious IID award, that got them noticed. ZZ Architects was born soon after. “I realised that there is a lot of developmental activity in the country and one can make a difference if one does the right thing at the right time,” says Zubin. Today, their design studio averages some 50 projects a year, and offers integrated design services, encompassing master planning and architectural, landscape, interior, lighting and furniture design. Their clients include Pidilite Industries, Nahar Developers, Sterling Developers and they have also designed several private residences. “We are now catering to people who are well-travelled and this makes our intent to deliver projects with an international sensibility understood by our clients,” says Zubin.  


Sonali Rastogi, New Delhi 

Environmental sensitivity runs through all of Sonali Rastogi’s projects. Rastogi and her husband Manit set up Morphogenesis in 1996. “I was studying at the Architectural Association, in London, and Manit got involved in the discourse of environmental and sustainable design. It wasn’t a buzzword back then. My initial interest in looking at what we inherently know from a fresh perspective came from observing his work,” says Rastogi. Over the last 15 years, the firm has been responsible for award-winning projects such as the Apollo House, Gurgaon (2000), MGF Metropolitan Mall, Gurgaon (2003), The Uttorayon Township, in Siliguri (2006), Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur (2008) and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi (2009). The duo is, at present, working on a 40-acre luxury eco-resort in Kerala, and a number of residential and hospitality projects in the NCR region. “Globalisation might broaden your horizons, but one of the dangers it poses is that people tend to forget their inherent character, which has developed over the years as a response to environment, time, technology and resources. While it’s fun to try out new things, the idea of ignoring centuries of experience is not a smart game plan,” says Rastogi.


Aamir and Hameeda Sharma, Hyderabad 

Aamir and Hameeda Sharma’s works are characterised by their earthiness. Their work has touches of the industrial mixed carefully with style, comfort and functionality. “I got into design by accident, as soon as I realised I would be the only boy among 36 girls in my class,” says Aamir. Their firm, Aamir and Hameeda Interior Designers and Contractors (AANDH), is sought after for its use of economically viable materials along with the ultra-luxe ones to achieve the best synergy. “The Indian mindset towards architecture and interior design is changing. People are more open to cutting-edge design and out-of-the-box details,” says Aamir. AANDH’s clients include jewellery designer Suhani Pittie, BMW India, the Wild Ginger restaurant in Secunderabad, and F Café in Hyderabad, among others.