Ar. Harsh Boghani is the co-founder of The Crossboundaries, Vadodara a young two-year-old Baroda-based design studio. He graduated as an architect from SVIT, India with a gold medal and later went to pursue Masters in Architecture from Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), Barcelona, Spain. He later honed his design talent by garnering vast and varied experience apprenticing with some of the best design practices in the world; including MAD Architects (Beijing, China), RSP Architects (Dubai), ARUP (Singapore), and NU.DE (Mumbai).
Thus enriched by this diverse global exposure, he later returned to Baroda to expand his father’s practice. Born as an offspring of a 30-year old practice Boghani and Associates, The Crossboundaries, emerged from the need to expand the principal firm’s repertoire. The Crossboundaries takes up varied challenges in interior design, furniture, lighting and products – crafting out spaces and styles suiting contemporary needs and perceptions. The firm is recepient of IIID National Winner, Excellence in Retail Design (2016), IIID Zonal Commendation, Retail Design (2016), iGen TOP 50 Hotlist for 2017 and many more.
You have worked with some great firms abroad and have also practiced under your father. Tell us about some unique learning experiences with each firm.
With firms I worked abroad, I would say it’s more of International exposure on latest cutting edge technology and its application. Working cross-cultural mind and experiences gave much insight on how big international projects are executed. It’s much more than basic architectural applications.
Having worked with various firms, my journey was more of experiencing different methodology of Architects and learning the different/varied approach of operating a design firm.
At ARUP, Singapore, I was yet a young intern who was always pleased looking at the Facades of Buildings and hence my journey started working for the Gardens by the Bay at very immature stage. Though it was a 2-month Internship which would not give me any grades but the learning experience was really worth every single day. I learnt how a building takes it shape and how important the skin of building is. A thoughtfully designed skin can make a new building work more effectively for its owners, occupants and environment. Thereafter I did my official Architecture Internship with NUDES, Mumbai under Ar. Nuru Karim. NU.DE operates within the realm of cross-disciplinary cultures of art, architecture and computational design powered by digital “making” tools addressing larger networks of social, cultural and the environmental. I was a part of mapping grounds at Kochi, Kerala for Kochi-Muzaris biennale which was the first ever Art Biennale in India. Working with Nuru Karim, was more like looking at a larger part of design along with endless experimentation process.
My third Internship was with MAD, Beijing after completing my M. Arch. MAD Architects is a global architecture firm committed to developing futuristic, organic, technologically advanced designs that embody a contemporary understanding of the Eastern affinity for nature. I discovered new vision of looking at Design working under MAD. Ma Yansong is recognized as an important voice in the new generation of architects and hence it was totally worth
for me to do an Internship under the firm. The learning process here was more of how to look at a project with open mind and endless possibilities. Having completed my Internship I came back to India with full enthusiasm and joined my Father’s firm Shailesh Boghani & Associates.
I joined the firm and learned about the Indian Methodology and working techniques. Having gained International exposure our practice in India started picking up when my father’s 30 year experience and my international exposure was bought on the table. I was still looking for some experience for operating a firm at corporate level since all the firms I worked with was more of bespoke with strong design style. I had to also learn about what 70% clients come for and hence I took off to work with RSP, Dubai. RSP taught me the corporate way of working and professional dealing with consultants and clients. It was totally a different style of work with a very organized approach on any project from start to end.
One regular feature in your projects is the art pieces. Tell us a bit about them. The process that leads to each piece.
“Inch by inch we create new spaces. With greens in the office and lamps in the shape of inverted mushrooms. Where the walls can have hands popping out and the ceiling can have exposed wiring in the form of diagrams. We think that things have to surprise.
We create art attractive not only to look at but also to live in.”
We love to approach each project with an open mind to create something unique. I myself like to clay model and dirty my hands by spending time with some artist friends at the studio. I feel Design is never complete with basic Interiors, it’s a collaborative effort where Art & design plays hand in hand to make the space feel complete. Our approach towards art invites possible innovative ideas by the end-users themselves.
Our methodology for designing art pieces in each project is developed though conversations and interaction with our clients. Like in “Cutting Edge”, the client was looking for something very unique and hence we crafted his own Hands which act like a display as well as for inviting symbolic element for the customers. Similarly “Ideal, Unisex hair studio”, creates a more cheerful approach to the monochromatic color scheme of the space. The Miniature art pieces are involved in the various services offered to the client at the salon.
What led to the starting of The Crossboundaries as an off shoot of Shailesh Boghani & Associates?
Shailesh Boghani & Associates has abundance experience as a master planning firmmainly handling large scale architectural projects since 35 years, the newer off-shoot - The Crossboundaries takes up varied challenges in interior design, be-spoke boutique architecture projects, furniture, lighting and products – crafting out spaces and styles suiting contemporary needs and perceptions.
Creativity has no boundaries and my multinational cross-cultural exposure combined with local inherent wealth from my guide – my father led my way to establish a young sister firm to Shailesh Boghani & Associates in 2014. Apart from interiors my intention was to provide a collaborative environment and a platform for artists, sculptors, product designers and graphic artist’s to work together on one single platform. The crossboundaires is basically a platform where professionals from cross culture connect and experiment. Hence, the name and decision to establish a sister firm ‘The crossboundaries’.
Having studied both in India and Spain, share some pros and cons of both.
India being one of the oldest civilizations in the world; it is amongst the youngest societies on earth, in every way one can imagine, including the age of its citizens! We lack in the practical teaching where students need to work on 1:1 scale. I have seen that even in fourth year students are still sketching plans and sections and many schools are still avoiding the use of softwares.
I agree to the point that one should start with sketching but to compete with the hustle and the complexity in design today one should be well equipped with technology as well. Smart design is what we require along with strong basics. We need to teach materials, technologies and construction techniques; not just on paper but also on site. History of Architecture and Building construction books needs to be upgraded. I was using the same version of “Sir Banister Fletcher” book which my father used during his Architecture. It’s high time we upgrade our system to cope up with the fast running world today. In Spain we were given more of practical grounds to work on rather than written or reading books and imagining things which we never touched, felt or witnessed.
Do you follow any particular design philosophy?
Our design philosophy is a bi-product of amalgamation of great team with unique ideas. We believe coming from the private realm, we have the responsibility to do our part in enriching the lives of people and communities. The integration of our approach to architecture allows us to do that. Here at THE CROSS BOUNDARIES; artists, sculptors, designers to owners, we do what it takes and care how it’s done.
We wish to create a sense of wonder and excitement when one enters a space designed by us and we do it by marrying artistic methods of design with Architecture and Interiors.
Our approach is very chaotic upfront. Our interest in art, fashion, lifestyle, travel and design is reflected in varied palette of works done. We look at design holistically often blurring the boundaries between the disciplines of architecture, interior design, landscape, product and lighting.
Anything else that you would like to share about your firm?
Our practice since its inception, has attempted to synthesis the three rudimentary essentials of architecture including design, aesthetics and environment into existence. We strive to show our creativity and work on innovative designs and to experiment with the technologies and materials thoughtfully. From the onset, a definite relationship between architecture, interior and art has been a driving force, creating projects with subtle transitions between these disciplines, combined with a three-dimensional design attitude that always searches the essence.
More than a firm, The Crossboundaries is a platform where different disciplines join hands and connect to create something unique.