Mr. Bobby Mukherji, Principal Architect, Bobby Mukherji & Associates
On the fusion between classic and contemporary elements in the design
Especially in a hospitality project where one has to create something that appeals to people of different age groups, cultural backgrounds and countries, both the classic and the contemporary elements need to coexist, and complement each other.
Mr. Bobby Mukherji is an architect extraordinaire, credited with many iconic designs in India and abroad.
In the one-of-its-kind jet terminal that we did at the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts in British West Indies, we had introduced Thai Asian elements in a Caribbean style architecture, instead of opting for a modern New York or Miami style architecture. The high-end clientele who fly into the island with their private jets do want that Caribbean experience. Again in the case of Jaipur Marriott, we didn’t take the archetype palace approach.
Western tourists do love a palace like ambience but apart from the tourist season, these hotels don’t do very well. On the other hand, Jaipur has a lot of new wealth that has flown in and has a very lively young generation which has studied abroad and seen the world. So instead of making a classic looking Indian style building, we brought in Indian elements by using local materials and certain art pieces here and there, while keeping the space essentially modern. Today it is a big hangout place on weekends, even for the young generation who would normally go to a party in Mumbai or Delhi. On the other hand, tourists coming from abroad feel at home as well, owing to the local elements.
A project needs to tell a story
All our projects are dissimilar from each other. Any project of ours begins with a unique story scripted by its location and function. One of our most successful stories is the Le Meridien hotel in New Delhi. It was a renovation of an existing hotel building which took four years to complete. We spent around 350 Crores in those years, and it had an amazing ROI in the end. The client’s brief was art and tech.
So right from the time you enter into the porch of the hotel, technology shows up in the form of art or art shows up in the form of technology – through lighting, new-age material, video graphics, projections, optic glass sculptures et al. The whole floor pattern is created by theatre lighting projection from the ceiling; it’s a dynamic floor pattern or carpet design which is just an illusion, and only when you walk over it you realize that it’s not an actual pattern on the floor but just a projection of light.
We carried this design language all the way through, even right to the bedroom experience.
The guest can choose the colour of his room by pressing a few buttons to effect the desired mood. This was done years ago, in 2003, and set the trend of colour changing big time. Now the colour changing is pretty much common. The Le Meridien, New Delhi has become a model hotel and its designs become the main part of the design brief to designers around the world for all Le Meridien hotels to be designed worldwide. This had happened during the tenure of Eva Ziegler, the CEO of Le Meridien and W hotels worldwide (which is a part of the Starwood hotels)
Hospitality design allows much more creative freedom
We enjoy doing hospitality projects the most. Hospitality is the kind of space where many of our fantasies come alive. Besides aesthetics and atmosphere, what you also need to get right in a hospitality project is the relationship between the back of the house comprising the kitchen, the people running the show, and the front of the house where the guests hang out.
People at the back are completely behind a screen, and they come out of little openings to service the front. This circulation is very important to make a hotel function properly. The other very important thing is styling – creating the right atmosphere, and something that is trendy and internationally acceptable.
The new finishes like wood, stone, and then the one that changes colour when one sees it from different angles, are welcome trends in this kind of material. You have to reinvent your designs to stay relevant. It’s a very practical material.
Also, it’s a good raincoat for buildings. This material is there to stay for a long time.
It has a wide aesthetic possibility as well. You have many possible colour options and all kinds of new age finishes. I personally love white.
I have seen some fantastic buildings in the western world done in white, especially by architect Richard Meier. I don’t see them being used much in India, maybe due to the fact that it needs a certain amount of maintenance. But if you take care of it, your building can look brilliant.
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