The Journey from Life Partners to Business Partners
The couple first met in an architecture college in Kolhapur and instantly got along. As soon as Gautam and Geetanjali completed their education, they decided to move to Mumbai to practice architecture. Geetanjali started working with Bhavna Jacob Architects, an architecture firm known for high-end residential projects. This is where she gained expertise in the residential design category. Gautam, on the other hand, joined the famous art director Nitin Desai to nurture his love for art. He then also worked in an event management company as a visualizer on projects including temporary structures, exhibitions, award functions, and corporate events.
Gradually, Gautam started his own firm The Th Zone Projects with a partner. With time, Gautam and Geetanjali realized that apart from great being great life partners, they would also make great professional partners. That’s when they founded their design and architecture firm GGAEC, which has now garnered much praise and recognition in the industry.
Maintaining Uniqueness in Architecture and the Design Industry
The major USP of GGAEC firm is versatility. Gautam and Geetanjali told Arcedior that they have done many different projects which do not restrict them to one particular bracket. Each project holds an element of eccentricity, be it installation, art, exhibition, art direction, set designing, or corporate designing at challenging scales. Things that matter to these acclaimed design professionalsare contextual parameters, the personality of the client that reflects in the project, the beautiful challenges, and the kind of energy that the project exudes.
Being an art junky, Gautam has portrayed in one of his poems that scale doesn’t matter at GGAEC; from a handle to a master planning of 500 acres, everything is done with utmost focus and quality. The couple says that just like the actors in movies, they don’t want to restrict themselves to just one role. The passion to explore is what makes these design experts what they are today.
The Ideology of Architecture
Everyone has a set ideology when it comes to architecture. So, we tried to learn from Gautam what the ideology of architecture was at GGAEC. “Right from the beginning, I knew that architecture has a lot to do with art – a lot to do with how you perceive things. After this, I was clear that I would pursue architecture as an artist and bring uniqueness to all forms of art that I know through my architecture practices. One of the reasons for getting into art direction was that it was a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience; every frame had glimpses of beautiful architecture. For example, while working on the sets of Jodha Akbar, I was involved in the detailing and designing process which gave me a lot of opportunities to observe and implement. It gave me an ability to look at different projects differently,” explains Gautam.
Geetanjali adds that the biggest requirement of clients is an aesthetically beautiful project. Therefore, as designers, the duo tries to add emotions to every space they work on; they add colours, textures, fabric, and other elements to bring life and soul to it. They ensure that each of their projects has the ‘feel good’ factor and reflects the personality of the residents.
All About Sourcing
When asked about their sourcing decisions, the power duo says that they don’t mind hiring someone and paying extra money so that they take care of sourcing from A to Z. Building on this conversation, Gautam and Geetanjali shared a story of howthey were put up in Bali for seven days for a residential project (bungalow) in Lonavala.Theyvisited the province as tourists and wandered the streets that displayed artistic sculptures, unique furniture, etc. And this is the same practice these two professionals followwhenever they visit a new place. This helps them bring the eccentric elements from various parts of the world into their projects, and that is where the role of sourcing experts come into play.
Gautam adds that sourcing experts make the lives of architects and designers easy by going to places to make arrangements before the tours, understanding the requirements of the design professional, establishing networks, getting the right prices, and much more. However, to get the right design or furniture piece sourced, architects and interior designers must know exactly what they want and should trust the sourcing experts.
Challenges in Architecture
When asked about challenges and how they face them, Gautam and Geetanjali shared with Arcedior that they don’t believe in fear of failure. From a small house to a 2500 acres master planning, they have done it all. And this is because they have created a work environment where nobody fears stepping out of their comfort zones. Moreover, the challenges give the couple an adrenaline rush.
Some of Their Captivating Projects
Delhi Bungalow – A Palace Banquet Design
In India, designers and architects usually work on straight-line projects usually focused on minimalism, modernism, or some other design approach. It was when a client asked Gautam and Geetanjali to visit their half-finished bungalow and asked them to start working on it that the team saw the challenge. Moreover, the project happened to have a structure with a huge 36-feet-high central lobby, large 14-feet-high rooms, classical columns, etc. The only brief the team got was that the client wanted to park a Rolls Royce Phantom which was going to be customized in white and gold. The client wanted their guests to leave with a strong impression.
While 120 people worked on executing the project, Gautam and Geetanjali simultaneously designed and led the project completion. Though it was a challenging job, the confidence of the client in Gautam, Geetanjali, and their team gave them a sense of responsibility. The GGAEC team went out of its comfort zone to beautifully complete the project down to every small detail. As a result, the project garnered huge praise; it won Ace Tech Alpha Award, got published in Trends twice for the best story of a classical project, got published as the‘Living Life King Size’ project, then it got selected again by Trends for India’s Top 10 homes.“The names in that list were a few I used to look up to, and suddenly, we saw our name on that list.” Added Gautam proudly.
Shell Petro Chemicals
Shell Petro Chemicals, a 500000 sq. ft. research facility with its head office in Bangalore, came to the country for the first timewith only two of its current facilities across the globe in Houston and Amsterdam. This project was designed based on a space manual with all the mathematical calculations of how much space a single person should get. So, the challenge for Gautam and Geetanjali was to follow that manual and yet maintain their creative stream. Right from the footing stage, they were involved.
The shape of the building was the result of a collaboration between architects, designers, structural engineers, etc. Moreover, Gautam tells Arcedior, “Building Design Engineering Practice– it was the first time I heard this word. But again, someone said that we could do it. So, we took on the challenge, and I am glad to be associated with such a unique project.”
Other Projects by GGAEC
Private Bungalow in Panhala
In this 2-acre-area residential project, the client wanted elements of Wada architecture of Maharashtra with a modern feel. So, Gautam and Geetanjali infused tropical Interiors theme along with Maharashtra Wada characters, tribal art, and Balinese elements, giving it a very rustic feel. The theme followed for the bungalow was “living with nature”, and it can be reflected in biomimicry adopted from the pristine natural surroundings. Natural materials like stone, wood, and cane were used in just the right proportion to bring out the vocabulary of tropical architecture, which allows the bungalow to blend itself dramatically with the natural surroundings.
Destination One Mall, Nasik
The Destination Mall houses commercial shops, a food court, a gaming zone, a multiplex, a banquet of 1000 people, and a commercial office premises along with a boutique hotel of 50 rooms. The project has won the coveted FOAID award, a national prize for commercial architecture and interior category.
A 4000 sq. ft. co-working office space in up market Aundh Pune, Co-Workez has organic interiors with a purist concept and colors to add vibrancy to the environment and bring excitement to life. The experiential graphics through Pop art is the most unique feature that makes this space quintessential.
Master Planning Projects
GGAEC has done master planning for several architectural projects, for which they have been associated with international architectural firms, such as, The Buchan Group, Australia, and Hall Black Douglas Architects, Ireland. These firms are renowned for their multidisciplinary practices and therefore, have many similarities with GGAEC. Their longstanding teamwork and collaboration have resulted in multiple successful projects.
Ooty Tea Estate and Coorg Coffee Estate
GGAEC was responsible for master planning of 350-acre Ooty Tea Estate and 2500-acre Coorg Coffee Estate along with WTI (Wadia Technical Engineering) for Mr. Ness Wadia.
Township at Bhugaon, Pune
Gautam and Geetanjali were responsible for the planning of a special 200-acre township for Sanjay Kakade in association with BDP, a European firm known for its mastery in town planning.
We are in awe of the amazing projects Gautam and Geetanjali have delivered at GGAEC. And we certainly look forward to working with them in the future.
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