Com­bin­ing de­sign with func­tion­al­ity

With an ex­pe­ri­ence of more than 25 years in the field of Ar­chi­tec­ture and In­te­rior De­sign­ing, Vi­noo Chadha, is a well known name in the field of re­tail de­sign in Kolkata. In a chat with VM&RD, Vi­noo shares his pas­sion for cre­at­ing sig­na­ture ar­chi­tec­tural


The De­sign Cell, founded by Vi­noo Chadha, has been in­volved in var­i­ous types of ven­tures, be it re­tail, com­mer­cial, res­i­den­tial or hos­pi­tal­ity pro­vid­ing com­plete so­lu­tion to the clients. Th­ese range from ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign­ing to land­scap­ing. As an ar­chi­tect he aims to cre­ate the re­tail space first and then, as an in­te­rior de­signer, adds on the cos­metic touch to his theme. He be­lieves de­sign­ers would have to un­der­stand the psy­chol­ogy of the end-users to some ex­tent be­fore fi­nal­is­ing on any re­tail de­sign pro­ject.

Give us a brief back­ground about your jour­ney as a re­tail de­signer?

My first re­tail show­room was of Ma­hal Lamp­shades done in 1986, which be­came a land­mark in the area of A.J.C. Bose Road junc­tion in Kolkata and the de­sign theme has re­mained un­changed till date. The store is still con­sid­ered as the most renowned out­let in Kolkata hav­ing the best col­lec­tion of lamps and chan­de­liers. Thus I tried to es­tab­lish from the very be­gin­ning that ev­ery de­sign of mine should have a shelf life which is pre­served in this case by my client Mr. Bi­lani even af­ter the store has com­pleted 26 years. Grad­u­ally we de­signed many re­tail spa­ces in the Park Street area, mainly gar­ments show­rooms fol­lowed by home fur­nish­ing out­lets for brands like Skip­per, Stel­lar, high-end jewellery show­rooms for brands like H.M. Di­wan, Kanak Jewellers, Chi­rag, P.C. Chan­dra, Di­wan­son Jewellers and so on. Re­cently we com­pleted Park Plaza Kolkata, the first Carl­son Rezi­dor ho­tel in eastern In­dia in­clud­ing a Spe­cialty Lounge Bar-

Nir­vana with a 20ft tall Bud­dha statue which is an at­trac­tion, a Pan Asian Spe­cialty Restau­rant and Smoke Shack, a rooftop restau­rant with dance floor to men­tion a few.

What is your take on Vis­ual Mer­chan­dise as an Ar­chi­tect and In­te­rior De­signer?

When it comes to vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing, nat­u­rally the prod­uct plays the piv­otal role. For ex­am­ple, in the de­signer sa­ree bou­tique Straavi where I have played with the colour white in the over­all store plan, the mer­chan­dise ul­ti­mately dom­i­nates the whole place. As a de­signer one should have a clear knowl­edge re­gard­ing three ba­sic things: the de­sign, the prod­uct and the way of ex­e­cut­ing that de­sign. A per­fect com­bi­na­tion of th­ese three things helps us to con­vert any theme into re­al­ity.

Do you have any role mod­els in your de­sign and creative philoso­phies?

I am in­spired by the works of fa­mous In­dian ar­chi­tect Charles Coorea. His de­signs are sim­ple and he cre­ates spa­ces around so­cial net­work which I ad­mire a lot.

What is the unique skill or com­pe­tence that you would at­tribute your suc­cess to?

I guess my unique skill or com­pe­tence lies in the de­tail­ing of any pro­ject han­dled by me. Start­ing from vi­su­al­is­ing the de­sign of any pro­ject, dis­cussing it with my team for get­ting their sug­ges­tions to procur­ing the right ma­te­rial and ex­e­cut­ing it with perfection is per­haps my strength. I prac­tice that even if there is any mis­take, redo it and fin­ish it prop­erly so that jus­tice is made and the client is happy with my work.

Any favourite as­pects of VM (Win­dow dis­plays, graph­ics, mer­chan­dise, pre­sen­ta­tion) that you have in terms of re­tail de­sign?

It varies from pro­ject to pro­ject be­cause the vis­ual mer­chan­dise is al­ways prod­uct driven. If it is a vi­brant prod­uct or a high-end one, the VM should be adapted in a sub­tle man­ner through­out the store, so that ev­ery­one

is at­tracted to­wards the mer­chan­dise. In my opin­ion the de­sign­ers should de­sign keep­ing in mind that it is for the prod­uct, so get­ting in the shoes of your client who wants to sell it at the end of the day is very im­por­tant. Thus the store de­sign should be a com­plete pack­age hav­ing the ac­cu­rate pro­por­tion of all the above ele­ments.

Any pro­ject that you would call as your big­gest achieve­ment or a mile­stone in your ca­reer?

I feel that it is yet to come be­cause I am never com­pletely sat­is­fied with any of my projects. When I start any ven­ture I am ex­cited but af­ter it gets fin­ished I am de­pressed even af­ter it re­ceives ac­co­lades. I want to be a per­fec­tion­ist, but prob­a­bly there is no limit to perfection. I try to treat ev­ery pro­ject with equal im­por­tance and take up each one if I feel that I can do jus­tice to that through my de­sign­ing.

What do you think are the ad­van­tages and chal­lenges in the scope of VM in the In­dian re­tail sce­nario?

To­day with in­ter­na­tional retailers com­ing to the In­dian mar­ket, vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ers will have to up­grade them­selves. Thus the scope of work will in­crease for sure and even to­day In­dian retailers are well trav­elled with knowl­edge of global sce­nario. I feel as a de­signer if prod­uct in­for­ma­tion from the client comes well the de­signer may over­come the chal­lenge eas­ily.

What has been your ex­pe­ri­ence in find­ing, train­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent in VM in In­dia? What do you rec­om­mend to soften the chal­lenge?

Ini­tially it was very dif­fi­cult, but now the youth of our coun­try loves to learn new con­cepts and try to in­no­vate as well. In our agency we have a great team of dy­namic pro­fes­sion­als in each depart­ment like ar­chi­tects, engi­neers, in­te­rior de­sign­ers, su­per­vi­sors etc. who work to­gether by ex­chang­ing sug­ges­tions with one an­other. My job is to mould them to the best of their abil­i­ties by tak­ing their opin­ion in the projects we are in­volved in.

From the point of view of an Ar­chi­tect what dif­fer­ence do you see be­tween the VM in­dus­try in In­dia and that over­seas? What do you think are the rea­sons for the same?

To­day I feel that the In­dian mar­ket has bridged the gap which ex­isted may be 1510 years ago. Global trends have im­pacted us and In­dian show­rooms which are com­ing up th­ese days are try­ing to main­tain an in­ter­na­tional ap­proach for their brands to get es­tab­lished in this mar­ket.

Where do you see the In­dian VM in­dus­try in the next 5-10 years?

With bet­ter and bet­ter brands com­ing to In­dia it is go­ing to grow a lot in the near fu­ture. As the buy­ing ca­pac­ity of the In­di­ans are grow­ing, there will be great de­mand for good re­tail spa­ces, shop­ping malls with spic and span in­te­ri­ors and it is surely go­ing to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the VM in­dus­try as well.

What is the dream that you would like to live?

Ev­ery pro­ject that comes to me should get trans­lated into a dream ven­ture that one would want to live up to. I strongly be­lieve that in any de­sign, aes­thet­ics and func­tion­al­ity go hand in hand and this weaves in the tale for any prod­uct. In each of my ven­ture, I first try to cre­ate creative func­tional space which is fol­lowed by proper form. Hav­ing the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of this two trans­forms ev­ery de­sign of mine into re­al­ity

Vi­noo Chadha, Ar­chi­tect

De­sign Cell

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