Today we are all facing a situation we never thought would happen in our lifetime.. but yes it has …and we are dealing with it !. it’s more than 45 days in this lockdown and we’ve all gone through our phases of anxiety, helplessness, hope, sudden bursts of feeling free and then again that nudging sense of boredom and doom and this entire gamut of positive and negative influences has been one heck of an emotional journey. TODAY THE PRIME GOAL IS TO SURVIVE & SURVIVE WE WILL.
As human beings, architects, and designers we are programmed to acknowledge, find solutions, and rise above our situations however limiting or challenging they may be & the resourceful and creative mind has always found a way forward. Its most important to process, analyze & interpret our circumstances with optimism and make the best use of it.!
HOW CAN A TRAGEDY BE ANYTHING ELSE ..BUT… A TRAGEDY?
ALSO, THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES..!..hence the face of our greatest enemy may turn out to our finest friend.. similarly an event which appears to be a tragedy may reveal unlimited opportunities.
Novel COVID 19 is one such truth we have to grapple with…the challenge being staying home is the only way to stay safe.. how do we as creative thinkers and designers and also simple human beings mold ourselves to this situation… is the question we all are collecting finding answers to.
TIME IS THE GREATEST LUXURY ..for me. and time is what we have at Hand now.. how best to utilize it..to its greatest potential.. or simply let things be and enjoy this time in its simplest joy of us being alive hale and hearty..is what we need to understand the face and work around…. how can we make this time matter.. ?
How most beautifully can we spend it with our family has been one of my greatest liberties.. to use this time as I please in my way ..has been my greatest joy.and it gives me an immense sense of liberation.
On the work, front-..creativity has always been an inside process for me and iv found answers and solutions to my creative blockages best in times when I’m in isolation & in a calm frame of mind.
Getting our creative juices churning.. finding inspiration & motivation in times of isolation has always been an asset for me.
The daily grind of this race of life which we all are so used to has come to a stop.. and we all are tamed into slow-living.. this phase has therefore been for me a little bit of both- a challenge as well as liberty.
Taking One day at a time and finding that perfect space and time where one can dedicate himself /herself solely towards the job at hand requires discipline, focus, and adopting a” NEW NORM”.!
Old schedules and norms have to be put aside to find newer ways to ideate, interact, and get the work done.
Ideating, Researching, knowledge building, working on fine-tuning details and perfecting them, finding better options, solutions and refining designs, working on concepts, mood boards, color schemes, material charts, budgets, & specifications for projects are very much doable.. and can give much joy and satisfaction since now there is ample time to mull over them.
The technology of mobiles and apps. Like zoom and others like them are allowing us some AMOUNT OF INTERACTION WITH OUR CLIENTS, SUPPLIERS, AND CONTRACTORS.. so yes there is some movement on this front…. But there are some definite loopholes and downslides to this but I definitely don’t feel very satisfied with this.. coming from an old school and trying to adapt to new methods I feel let down by technology.. since I prefer face to face interactions, where the vibe of thoughts is more genuine and fruitful.
Also, ours is a field where one needs to touch, feel, and work & experiment with material physically so this is the process I miss the most and I feel it is limiting me a lot.
Our work is generic and it’s a process. where one thing follows the other and continuous interactions, changes and experimentation keep on happening till the final process is arrived at…so till the conceptual stage and working on designs is concerned we can.. but after that WHAT???
Construction has been stopped since lockdown ..of course .. and we still are unsure when it shall happen in full boom, sites are vacant and labor is frustrated.. material we had ordered cant reach, site so overall it’s a fullstop.!
Migrant labors are already an issue now and with the onset of monsoon coming in soon now.. things don’t look very dapper.. this is the biggest challenge..!
Projects are at an indefinite standstill.. and yes with the economy already low since the last year. this is the hardest hit.!
Ours is not an essential service.. and I don’t foresee ppl. Really putting in lots of money immediately unless the immediate need is not there.
There have been pending fees from clients on our earlier works.. which now also seems to be a dragged out issue..this lockdown has hit the economy the hardest.! And to get it back to some degree is going to take lots of time…so right now we simply play the waiting game keeping a positive mindset that things should improve slowly but surely.
This lockdown has definitely imbibed in us more patience, made us meditate on what’s really important and even forcibly if so. has made us realize the value of “ letting things go and making the best use of what we have and value life at its most basic”.
Working from home in whatever way I could, there have been pros and cons.
with lower costs of infrastructure and office running expenses.. and experimenting with flexible work timings being the positives…. there have been some frustrations too.. of not getting productivity and there have been times of lower engagement levels from my junior designers.. though I can’t blame them fully since being at home we all tend to get into a more comfort zone, with distractions and home duties around one tends to lose focus and discipline.
The way we work we need to closely monitor our staff and the designs, get sampling done, get options made on details, etc.. where every item we create is custom designed.. the thought process at times can get disturbed..when at home it’s not really possible.
These are some huge limiting factors and affects the work process, potential, and productivity.. so totally working from home is definitely a FANTASY for us. At this stage.!
I would still like to end this writeup on a positive note though.. that yes all is not lost.. we as human beings have been hugely humbled by the force of nature.. and this new world post epidemic demands us to work more wisely on our resources churn out more conscious design and keep green and sustainable living as a prime focus.
We need to keep health, safety, and security at the forefront.
Ultimately we as designers, have the power to design a better world ..and a huge part of this responsibility lies with us to design keeping this in mind… of course, there are many factors that need to be kept into consideration and we need to create a complete support system to get this done. but this is a completely different topic to discuss in itself..and I hope a better and better module does find its way across.
The sky is looking bluer, the air feels crisp and cleaner, the birds are chirping and there’s so much calmer in the environment… the earth is healing… we have to take this biggest positive with us and create without disturbing all this beauty that the lockdown has afforded us.
This lockdown has definitely been an eye-opener and a game-changer for all of us and to survive this and come out better and create a better world is our biggest challenge.
Looking forward to a better and wiser tomorrow and absolutely raring to get back on the field.
Till then – “ stay home, stay safe”!
Architect and interior designer,
Partner at ARCH-AID.
As a qualified architect and interior designer practicing in Mumbai, Ar. Bhavya Kenkare is a partner with husband Ar. Neilesh Kenkare at their firm, ArchAid, in addition to running her own full-fledged independent practice. Her practice of over 23 years covers architectural as well as interior design solutions for a range of residential, commercial, and hospitality programs. Her works have won her several recognitions/ awards, with the Society Interiors Award 2018 for ‘Creative Excellence in Architecture and Interior Design’ becoming the most recent addition to the list. Other recognitions garnered by her works include IGEN’s ‘Top 50 Interior Designers’ (2014), IGEN’s ‘Top 100 Hottest Architects of the Country’ (2015), Inside-Outside Award for Designing Small Spaces, runner-up awards at the all India competition for Sahara India and KDMC. She has been part of the jury panel for several design competitions and teaches Interior Design at LS Raheja College of Architecture, Mumbai.
A graduate of Sir JJ College of Architecture, Architect and Interior Designer Bhavya Kenkare has been practicing from Mumbai for well over 23 years. Partnering with husband Neilesh Kenkare, she runs ArchAid, their multi-service design firm, and also has her own independent design practice where solutions are offered for projects ranging from residential, institutional, commercial, hospitality, religious to spiritual spaces. High end residential and hospitality designs have been her forte, as she specializes in fine detailing and impressive presentations that she finishes personally, and nurtures an innate knack for curating and matching art and accessories. Bhavya Kenkare’s work can be seen featured in many publications and has also been awarded recognition on several occasions.