11 Jan 2017, 11:38 — 9 min read
Good architectural design is akin to a great business idea in the sense that it addresses the core requirements of the client and creates a solution that delights and stands the test of time. Much like in business, effective design requires an understanding of the environment, a grasp of the needs of the present with an eye on the future. Renowned British architect Norman Foster once said “As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”. Architects make what is only yet imagined into reality and in essence they are entrepreneurs and pioneers.
Meet Rohan Haksar, a young and upcoming architect and interior designer who believes that intuitive, sustainable & thought-provoking design is the need of the hour in the Indian market. Armed with a degree in Digital Sustainable Design from Pennsylvania State University, Rohan launched his firm, RRH Design in Mumbai in 2014. Today, the firm has 10 team members and is bound by Rohan’s ideological vision and sense of aesthetic. His knowledge of Digital Sustainable Design, as evidenced by his authoring of several papers on the subject, permeates through the firm’s ethos and work. After establishing a wide-ranging portfolio that includes movie theatres, restaurants, residential buildings among others in their repertoire, RRH Designs looks to expand further in the years to come with innovation as the cornerstone of their growth.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Rohan Haksar (RH) shares his story and the journey of his firm, the challenges faced thus far and the vision for the future.
GL:Tell us about your business.
RH: RRH Design is a Mumbai based design firm established in 2014. We are an architectural and interior design firm which also executes turnkey projects. We are a boutique architectural studio, designing and executing projects that are tailor-made to the requirements of each client – an approach that allows the end-user to experience personalised design in a whole new light. The firm has completed several projects with short turnarounds in a multitude of fields, ranging from hospitality, retail, corporate interiors, residential buildings, and master planning. RRH Designs continually looks to expand and add to their varied portfolio.
I am the Founder and Principal Architect at RRH Design, and have graduated from the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai. I went on to complete a Master's in Digital Sustainable Design from Pennsylvania State University. During my time at Penn State, I worked closely with Autodesk to integrate BIM and Energy modelling. This work resulted in the creation of Vasari — a new software that is currently in the testing phase. I was also among the first few students chosen for the Autodesk IDEA Program Residency in San Francisco. I have authored numerous papers on digital sustainable design, which have been published at conferences across the world.
I started RRH Design, a young design-oriented architectural firm with the purpose of bringing thought-provoking, intuitive design to the Indian market. The in-house team comprises of architects, interior designers, and 3D visualisers. Additionally, RRH Designs works with a number of contractors to ensure the highest quality and timely completion of projects across India.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
RH: Having started as a one man team, we have grown to a team of 10 now. However it has always been hard to find designers who match the firm's design aesthetic and philosophy. It is very important that all members of the team share the same vision in order for us to deliver a quality product.
Apart from this, we have the usual day-to-day challenges of dealing with labour and vendors to make sure our designs are understood and executed correctly and on time. However, over time, we have been able to streamline this and ensure timely completion of our sites across the country.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
RH: RRH Designs is a successful union between a unique choice of materials and contemporary new-age technologies that constantly pushes the envelope of design. We also aim to marry aesthetics with the client’s needs for a comprehensive design. I firmly believe that design is a holistic process and that is the approach we have to all our projects no matter the scale. We ensure every aspect, no matter how small, is detailed and thought of because it is these details which make or break the design. Be it a door handle or a light fitting, it is designed to be part of the overall design scheme. One of the unique aspects of our approach is that we rarely buy anything readymade. Everything including lights and furniture is designed and unique to the site. We do not repeat or replicate design elements, thus giving each project a unique look. The trick here is to make each site embody our design philosophy yet have unique design elements which stand out.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
RH: Over the short course of 3 years, we have completed over 75 projects spanning the residential, commercial and hospitality sectors. Not only have we worked with established brands like Jetking and HDFC and startups like Wishberry and Chicanino Childcare, but also international firms like Leaders Quest and Greenlight planet. One of the biggest achievements has been developing design concepts from the ground up for multi outlet hospitality like 1441 Pizzeria, Sweetish House Mafia. We have also completed 5 cinema projects and are working on other projects in this niche sector.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
RH: GlobalLinker is unique platform which allows entrepreneurs like me to network and source vendors and products. The field of design has numerous innovations and we like to keep abreast of the advancements in the field. Leveraging a forum like GlobalLinker we are able to find new products and vendors and stay up to date.
Being a design oriented professional can sometimes make it hard when it comes to setting up a firm. However, GlobalLinker's articles on finance, HR and business development have been a great help towards the day-to-day running of my firm.
Another issue facing the design field is that each project is unique and may pose a unique problem. Using a platform like GlobalLinker not only can we find solutions to these issues but also meet people who may have dealt with similar circumstance and get real life solutions.
GL: What is your big business dream?
RH: I would love to continue on this path by working with more startups and developing more design based brands. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction to see a company evolve from the ground up. Along with new business, I would also like to include more sustainable practices like passive solar and rainwater harvesting into our architectural projects, as I feel we do not utilise these resources in India to the fullest. Something close to my heart which we have been working on is how to reduce costs and time by innovating in design. We have successfully completed projects between 1000 – 7000 sq. ft. at a cost of Rs. 2000/sq.ft. in under 90 days without compromising on the aesthetics.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
RH: From personal experience, I would say it is never too early to start. No amount of learning and degrees can replace what you will learn on the ground especially in the field of design. Never be afraid to take on a project because you have not done something similar. No two projects are the same and if you are willing, you will learn every step of the way. You need to be ready to put in a lot of hard work but the rewards are there to be seen. Patience is honestly a virtue in this field and you will need it to handle clients and contractors. In order for your designs to be successful you need to have a keen eye for detail and be very meticulous. The initial years are a lot of sleepless nights and working Sundays but in the end it pays off. It is also important to maintain relations not only with clients for future work but also contractors and vendors because it is they who actually turn the designs into reality.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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