DE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW with designer Dipen Gada, the principal designer at Dipen Gada and Associates, Vadodara.
Dipen Gada is the founder & principal designer at Dipen Gada & Associates, Vadodara, Gujarat.
Design Essentia Editor in chief Anirudh Datta had a detailed interaction with the designer for the DE Spotlight interview series about the work at DGA and the post COVID scenario in architecture, along with the topic of “Lets Go RAW” to celebrate the raw in architecture & design with the resurgence of terracotta today.
“Any designer’s journey is more than a table, more than a drawing board. When the people are the actual drawing board, the real journey starts.”
Dipen Gada & Associates, popularly known as DGA, began as a very modest interior design firm. Gradually with time and every project accomplished, DGA evolved from an exclusive interior design firm to a civil and architectural planning firm and attained the position as one of the respectable and admired firms of India.
Since its inception in 1993, DGA has made its presence felt through innovative, minimalistic and timeless designs. The firm strives to maintain a balance between aesthetics and functionality in all its designs. There is a constant search of exploring the uncharted and concluding beyond the conventional. Few of my personal favourite works of the studio that narrates the raw aesthetics in architecture through its exposed terracotta style are Dr. Nene’s House and Ajay Patel Residence both located in Vadodara, Gujarat.
It was interesting talking to Mr. Dipen Gada as he shares his insights on the concept of going “raw” in architecture and design as well as on the post covid situations in architecture with a need for a sustainable future.
AD : What inspired you to pursue a career in Architecture?
DG : There was never any plan to pursue architecture, say it destiny but as things worked out my life and career turned towards architecture and interiors. When the time came to select a stream in 10th Std., my heart said commerce, but under influence (of my cousin) it screamed science. I had keen interest in Mechanical Engineering, I worked hard enough for it but failed as I was 3 marks short. Then, there was no alternative and I had to select Civil Engineering. One fine day, my cousin asked me to supervise work for his house for which he had bought marble.
In doing so, I made few changes to the planning and the end result turned out to be quite something. It was different and something sparked in me. One of my friend happened to see the completed house and requested me to do the design for his boutique. I was obliged. This was the turning point. The spark in me had started a series of firecrackers. I went on a learning spree. I started educating myself through books, seminars and working self on site quite often. This is how those three marks led me on to this journey of becoming a designer.
AD : Who were your early heroes and role models?
DG : Tadao Ando’s philosophy to work with bare concrete has always inspired me. The spaces Tadao Ando have created along with the play of light is unbelievable. The play of light is very important to change the character of a space. One should design in a way which is very photogenic in order to capture it in a perfect light. Geoffrey Bawa, another architect who has inspired me a lot with his love towards nature and play of structure respecting nature at its best.
AD : In few words, how would you define your design process – philosophy?
DG : “SAHAJ”- Effortlessness is our design motto. Although, we take great efforts to attain the final result, we believe in making it feel effortless. Gradually as we evolve, the need for a soothing, serene & calm ambience is felt. We believe in incorporating that in our design process since the beginning, thus making the design timeless. Functionality is given utmost importance in our design approach. Once functionality is resolved, aesthetics is addressed and a perfect blend of both is achieved. We always keep our eyes open for new ideas & designs. Learning and exploring the latest technologies and working with lot of younger minds help us which retain the freshness & innovativeness in our designs.
AD : What would you say is DGA’s strongest ideology/asset, and how have the firm developed that skill over time?
DG : Our firm strives to maintain a balance between aesthetics and functionality with amalgamation between architecture, art and design. There is a constant search of exploring the uncharted and con-clouding beyond the conventional. Classic minimalism is what we follow and maintain in each project we undertake. We also believe in respecting the natural materials and uniqueness of each element. For us, each project is considered a milestone.
AD : The world is now slowly realising the seriousness about climate change. What is your take on sustainable practice in architecture today?
DG : Sustainable architecture seeks to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiently and moderately using materials, energy and development space. It is extremely important to practice sustainability in designs for a cleaner and green environment. We believe that sustainable architecture holds the key of an environmentally positive future. Only by living more economically with our resources can we hope to protect our environmental climate. Minimum use of non-renewable resources, enhancing the natural environment & eliminating the use of toxic materials gives a boost to sustainable environment. We strongly believe that sustainability is all about smart designing by incorporating the same in our initial planning concept itself. Traditional design methods such as designing of openings according to basic design principles, centre courtyard, well shaded south west direction, open North and East directions are various such as green concepts.The design depends upon the climate conditions of the site. Hence the approach is region specific.
AD : You’re most proud – favourite project?
DG : Niraant is one of that kind of project which you can say that is very close to my heart. It is a single-storey residence built on naturally curved land. The brief of the project is that it’s a retreat home with few programmatically requirements of 2 bedrooms with home theatre and pool as well as a space that provides ease to relax, mediate and get away from routine. It creates an environment that surrender to nature and give experience, which would zero down oneself from the worries of the world. The house with its bold minimalist expression stands firmly and praises this amalgamation of art and architecture. Overall, the house offers contemporary interiors with Indian vernacular twist, which is worth experiencing.
AD : What other projects are you currently working on?
DG : There are many villas we are working on currently in and around Vadodara. Some of the projects that we are currently working on include an eye hospital in Vadodara, Corporate commercial and residential projects in Vadodara and Anand respectively.
AD : DE’s this month theme is Let’s Go Raw (the resurgence of terracotta today) As seen in few of your projects the use of terracotta, how would you share your experience working with terracotta and the idea of embracing the “raw” aesthetics in architecture?
DG : Terracotta being earthly palette gives a different level of satisfaction. Not only in terms of structure but also gives a very warm and rooted feeling when someone uses it in any space. The texture of terracotta in different form gives variety of play and using such materials in various proportion and aspect gives different dimension to each project.
AD : The future of architecture after COVID? How would you think this would affect the design industry?
DG : There is a new normal after COVID. I strongly believe that everything will be alright and same after certain period. Changes will come in overall space planning in public areas, common gathering spaces or circular spaces.
AD : What is your “message of HOPE” in this COVID crisis?
DG : In this difficult time, we need to stand strong and together and take all the necessary precautions and we will surely emerge out of this pandemic with learning and viewing life through a different aspect. As rightly quoted by Robert Schuller; “Tough times never last, but tough people do”.
Read the full interview below in our DE magazine Edition.