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“Copying Designs from the Internet can Lead to Client Dissatisfaction”, Says Architect Nomita Goswami in Samvaad (Part-2)

Welcome to Samvaad, where art meets conversation, and inspiration knows no bounds. Here we engage in insightful conversations with eminent personalities from the art fraternity. Through Samvaad, Abir Pothi aims to create a platform for thought-provoking discussions, providing readers with an exclusive glimpse into the creative processes, inspirations, and experiences of these creative individuals. From curating groundbreaking exhibitions to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, our interviews shed light on the diverse perspectives and contributions of these art luminaries. Samvaad is your ticket to connect with the visionaries who breathe life into the art world, offering unique insights and behind-the-scenes glimpses into their fascinating journeys.

In this enlightening dialogue between esteemed architect Nomita Goswami and visionary entrepreneur Ruby Jagrut, we gain profound insights into the dynamic landscape of architecture and design. Nomita Goswami, renowned for her innovative architectural approach and meticulous attention to detail, brings forth her extensive experience and nuanced perspective on the evolving trends in the industry. On the other hand, Ruby Jagrut, the pioneering force behind Abir India, is celebrated for her commitment to seamlessly blending traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics. Together, they engage in a thought-provoking conversation exploring the intricacies of client dynamics, the evolving role of designers, and the impact of cultural awareness on architectural projects. Join us as we delve into their captivating exchange, navigating through the intersections of culture, creativity, and craftsmanship.

Ruby: Because you mentioned at the beginning that you have studied Assamese literature, yes, so you know your roots well. You know Assam well because literature has many things that bring you close to your area. So, your understanding of Assam’s culture, its literature, how it reflects in your projects, how you want to use the local aesthetics or your perspective. If Westernised appeals and if Western things appeal to you, why, and if you want to incorporate Assamese elements, how do you implement them in your projects? If we can discuss it, it will be very enjoyable.

Nomita: Yes, actually, as I mentioned earlier, we work based on the client’s choice. So, if I’m working on a modern project, then I’m fine with the modern theme. But still, I try to use products that are suitable for the modern theme. For example, the silk products available here, such as Muga silk, are used in the modern theme. It’s not like your modern aesthetic will only include modern or antique items; it can also include modern items such as clothes or Muga silk products. I use that type of decoration comfortably in the modern theme. Apart from that, I use a lot of normal products. For example, I use a lot of furniture from Babo Ken and Babo’s furniture. Then there’s wall decoration work, and there’s also the Muga, which is the attire Muga silk attire, from which we make sofa cushions, and sofa covers, leaving aside the normal fabric used for purchasing, we make sofas, chairs, etc., using the fabric produced here. Then we do wall decoration with the same design. We do a lot of work with the production here, using the same type of fabric. For example, in wall decoration, I’ve also done cushion covers, bed runners, cushions for hotels, etc., with the same pattern.

Ruby: You deal with weavers for this because otherwise, ready-made won’t be available, will it?

Nomita: We customise everything based on our requirements. We work with specialists in textiles, for example, who handle the entire process. We collaborate with them to get it done according to our specifications, and then they deliver it.

Ruby: Nomita ji has got her sofa’s textile done from Gamosa, and it’s a beautiful thought that your cultural heritage, which you are connected to, you use it in a contemporary functional item, so you give it a new life. She is doing full social service to the crafted community. I want to ask you, Nomita, when you have been working for the past 20 years,    you also do landscaping, you also do interior designing, so what is the most difficult part of the entire design process for you? Which point of design do you think is the most difficult, and then when you overcome it, you get a complete picture? What is your view on design? How do designers work, you know where it gets stuck, then when you get over it, you get a clear picture that yes, it will look like this now. And you also said that you work on themes, so your theme is always a client’s requirement, but then the designer adds their vision to it, so how do you work? Which area do you enjoy the most? Which one seems a bit difficult, and which area do you feel that now in professional practice, this has to be done? Can you tell us about that?

Nomita: Actually, I don’t find it difficult at all. Really, I don’t know why. I mean, when we draw, it’s quite clear what you want the look to be like. Sometimes, there are a few changes after drawing, but I am very happy to work on the rest of the tasks. So, I don’t feel anything difficult. Just managing labor sometimes, like we sometimes face a little issue in managing labor, but other than that, I don’t feel it so much.

I manage both home and work, and the support from home is also very good.

Ruby: Nomita, You mentioned that you have interns who are aspiring designers. So, what advice do you give them? How do you help them? How do you guide them? What would you like to say to them? What to do, what not to do? Or based on your experience, what would you tell them?

Nomita: Well, I usually have interns every year, about four to seven interns of this type every year. So, I try to teach them the things I haven’t learned yet. If there’s any problem that arises, I properly guide them so that they excel in this field. Because nowadays, we have a lot of facilities. When we started, there weren’t many references available. You’ve studied, you’ve read a bit from books, but there wasn’t much available in the sector. Nowadays, there’s so much available online. So, I always tell them not to rely solely on references. It’s necessary to take references, but try to put in your full effort so that you enjoy the process. That’s when you’ll enjoy your work and others will also get proper results. Because if you copy a design from the internet, your client won’t be happy, and someday someone will say, “This is a copied design.” So, keep the reference, but put your own effort into it.

Ruby: So, where do you find inspiration? What are your aspirations? Some people are visual artists, some are musicians, and some have a liking for Assamese crafts. So, we want to know where you derive this inspiration from and how you reflect that inspiration in your projects. How do you reflect it in the final expressions, which are the manifestations of your projects? Where does it reflect within them?

Nomita: See, it’s not like we don’t look, we do sometimes. But it’s like when you sit down to draw, you’ll sketch out two or three designs. That’s what I mean. When you observe someone else’s design, you get some idea or another, something or the other clicks. If we make an effort and sit down to draw, it’s not like we’re just sitting there idly. No, it’s not like that. But when you dedicate your time to it, something or the other naturally comes out. Look at your painting, I might have seen it, and there could be something from your painting that I add to mine. We’re not the type to just see furniture somewhere and copy its design. I may have seen its design and incorporated it into mine. I might not have made that furniture, but I incorporated it into mine.

Ruby: If I place your thing in a different way, I would say that you absorb inspiration from everywhere and then reinterpret it like a sponge. But when you sit down to work, it manifests in a different way, and the way it expresses itself is your interpretation.

I’ll use this element of aesthetics in my functional area, if I may. If I’m right, you know what I’ve understood from what you said. It makes me understand that you look at everything from every angle. Don’t confine your thoughts, your mind, your consciousness. Look at everything in every way, and then you want to express it intensely. But when you incorporate it into your usage, there should be your expression. This is a learning for you, for young designers.

Alright, I understand what you’re saying. So, this is a lesson for your young designers that finding yourself in your expression has always been my advice. Just like we have many interns, I always tell my interns that whenever you’re associated with any one art form, don’t turn your face away from other fields. You should have an understanding of a good piece of music, read a poem well, feel it, and stay available with that same sensitivity to all art forms. Only then will a pure expression come out. Not understanding any other art form somewhere or the other harms you.

So, like you’ve studied literature, I feel that your literature studies haven’t gone anywhere. It has stayed with you, and when you take a piece of cloth like the gamosa and do something with it, you must have read about its significance in literature. Only then can you use it in an appropriate manner. We’ll use it in an apron, we’ll give it expression in a different way. I feel somewhere or the other, what you do is connected to your roots, it’s associated with your identity, and it reflects in your design. Right now, I have the urge to explore your project. I feel like seeing many of your projects, what the gamosa sofa looks like, how it feels. So, everyone says that all projects are our favorite. We won’t talk about any one project, but at least talk about a couple of such projects that were really fun to make, where the client was good, the team was good, and you enjoyed it too. You know, everything was as per your plan. Talking about your aspirations and discussing them was also fun, so tell me about some projects like that.

Nomita: Look, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve mostly worked on residential projects. I mean, it’s been almost 10 years now. There was a project I worked on recently, as I mentioned earlier. It was the waterfall project, the one in Arunachal Pradesh. It was a project for a bungalow, a three-story bungalow, meaning it was quite large. It had a landscape area of almost 10,000 plus square feet, meaning it was sprawling. That was one such project, and recently, I’ve also worked on one in Guwahati. So, in both projects, I saw that the client, I mean, they were happy, and they were happy with you too. They fully supported you in everything. So, I saw that everything, every aspect, was perfect. It’s like sometimes, as I mentioned, there are occasional hiccups. Sometimes, it’s about the client’s budget, or sometimes, it’s about keeping the client satisfied, their suggestions too.

Ignoring too much of it doesn’t feel good because they are building their home, so it’s important to consider their preferences to some extent. We can’t be entirely happy in that type of situation. If it doesn’t go completely my way, but there are two types, and there are a couple more. It’s not just in Guwahati, mostly I’m talking about the bungalows there. So, the clients who fully support you, whether it’s financially or mentally, if both aspects support you, then the joy of working is different. It means you have complete freedom, and there are no issues with the budget. In that type of situation, mostly with the bungalows, I find joy.

To be continued…

How Time Constraints Challenge Art Integration in Architectural Projects, Reveals Architect Nomita Goswami in Samvaad (Part-1)

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