Hailing from a family of ­doctors, Ashiesh Shah almost became a ­dentist before taking up a career in architecture.“I thrive on ­creative ­freedom and was always ­interested in ­architecture and design. While studying ­dentistry, I realised that it wasn’t ­something I was­ passionate about. Moreover, it had no scope for free thinking and creativity. So I followed my heart and switched over to architecture,” says the 33-year-old Mumbai-based architect.
Shah, who graduated from Parsons The New School for Design in New York, set up his first studio in a garage. Today, he has come a long way and has an ­impressive array of ­entrepreneurial ventures such as Le Mill (a ­lifestyle store) and Otlo.
He has been featured in the cover articles of reputed periodicals and newspapers, including the New York Times. He’s also designed homes of Bollywood actors, workspaces for ­multinational ­conglomerates and ­state-of-the-art boutiques (across the ­subcontinent).
Talking about the initial days of his career, he says, “I worked in New York for several years and after I moved to Mumbai I worked with Nozer Wadia’s firm. I believe that good work ­experience, particularly in the initial years of one’s career, is critical to future success and should not be measured in terms of fiscal gains.”
Describing a regular ­working day, Shah says, “I ­usually use the mornings for ­ideation, after which I head to the ­studio to oversee ongoing projects and attend ­meetings with clients.Visits to design stores and sites are an ­inevitable part of my day. I dedicate my evenings to research and writing my ­columns.”
For Shah who was named as the 20 People to Watch Out For in the year 2011 by CNN GO, Nido was the most ­interesting project he has worked on. “Since I was ­designing a restaurant for the first time, there was lot of scope for experimentation. It is necessary to keep the client’s ­preferences and needs in mind but with Nido there were very few restrictions,” he says.
According to Shah, ­achieving a balance between a client’s expectations and one’s aesthetic sensibilities is one of the major challenges in this field.
A collector of art (his home has specially commissioned works by 15 artists from around the world), Shah ­thoroughly enjoyed the experience of designing his own house in south Mumbai. “My home is a culmination of ideas over ­several decades. It was fun being the client for a change.”
When asked about the best part of his profession,this suave architect says, “There is no monotony. Every day is a new challenge and you never stop learning. I am ­constantly researching new ­technologies, design practices and art. Reading design blogs and ­visiting art ­galleries has affected my work in a constructive way.”
Architecture is a fast ­growing sector in our country. Be it ­construction, designing ­buildings, urban planning and even interior designing, there is a wide range of options ­available for those “who have ­sketching ­proficiency, ­imagination, ­practical sense, accuracy and the capacity to observe and ­conceptualise,” concludes this talented architect.
All you need to know about a career as an architect
Architects design buildings – from homes to commercial and retail spaces. Architecture ­studies insist on efficient ­structural and climatic designs for which one needs to understand the use of water, light and air. After a basic course in ­architecture, familiarising ­yourself with the ‘green’ ratings will help you build structures responsibly
# School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi; spa.ac.in
# Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; www.jmi.ac.in/fae/courses_foarch.htm
# CEPT University, Ahmedabad; www.cept.ac.in
# IIT Kharagpur; www.iitkgp.ac.in
Take up science and ­mathematics in Class 11 and 12. To get into an architecture ­college, you will be required to clear exams like the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA), Rajasthan ­Pre-Entrance Test (RPET), or Punjab Common Entrance Test (CET), among other tests
Skills and traits
# Awareness of environmental issues and a desire to ensure environmental well-being
# Good designing/drawing skills and an ability to provide ­cost-effective solutions to ­clients as ‘green’ planning is expensive
# Good communication skills as you deal with clients who spread the good word about you
What gets you there
Good drawing skills, a head for calculations and being observant help
Rs. I take home (Average starting salary)
Rs. 20,000 - Rs. 40,000 a month
I love my job becouse..
I am constantly researching new technologies, design practices and art
Follow your passion! This is easier said than done as the field requires dedication. If you feel passionate about design, don’t be deterred by challenges