We first chanced upon Mumbai-based Rooshad Shroff’s work at Jaipur Modern, a lifestyle store set in a 1920s’ bungalow in the heart of the Pink City. It was the dramatic black and white marble flooring and inlayed tables and hashtag-worthy centerpiece of embroidered handmade teak tiles that showcased Shroff’s deft craftsmanship. The stellar wall-cladding concept that has hand-woven threads across 400 wooden tiles took nearly seven hours per tile.
Craft and the idea of things being handmade is important to the 33-year-old architect’s repertoire. “As an office, we are constantly working with different artisans from various parts of India to research on different techniques of making, and see how we could best take forward the workmanship available and try to have a more contemporary modern aesthetic. The furniture and tiles become an avenue for us to express these ideas and research. We have a global patent in Paris for the embroidered wooden tiles concept,” says the designer, who won the Elle Decor Award for Wall surfaces 2013.
Hailing from a family of architects, Shroff completed an undergraduate degree in architecture in Mumbai and later studied at Cornell. “After this, I worked at the office of OMA/REX, NY, for a year followed by the office of Zaha Hadid in London for 18 months, only to leave to get back to academia to pursue my Masters in Architecture at Harvard University. While at Cornell, I also did my first internship at Issey Miyake in their NY office,” reminisces Shroff. He returned to Mumbai in July 2011 to start his practice in furniture/interiors and architecture. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Shroff has kept busy with a 12-villa development in Goa and has projects lined up in Mumbai and Osaka. He was hired as the local architect for the Christian Louboutin store in Mumbai and is the design architect for the brand’s Bangkok outpost. “For the BKK store, once again a lot of materials were developed in-house, taking inspiration from Thailand as well as Christian Louboutin—as a brand. For example, in the men’s room, we created a wall with different tiles clad in leather which were block-printed and embroidered in various yantra tattoos—which are popular in Thailand. We also used tikri mirror work done in Udaipur on a wall as well as copper sequins embroidered panels on the cash desks, taking references from the ceramic Thai roofs that are often seen along the streetscape of Bangkok,” explains Shroff.
He adopted a similar approach while working on Jaipur Modern. “There was a great synergy between the brand Jaipur Modern and my office as we both work with a lot of handicrafts from various parts of india, be it with the interiors or the products to be displayed. As this was going to be a retail outlet that would exhibit works primarily to do with crafts of india, it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the abundance of beautiful handworks within the interior. The bungalow was a dilapidated old 1920s’ structure which we restored keeping the original layout and expressing a few elements from the old architecture,’ he says.
Besides this, he did the interiors, landscape, packaging and branding for Jaipur Modern and a show flat for the Oberoi Realty’s property. Perhaps one reason that makes Shroff successful is his skillful understanding of the design brief and using the constraints as opportunities. “The answers are often hidden within the questions raised,” he says.
Recently for his designs in collaboration with the Godrej Design Lab, Shroff created a stainless steel collection of furniture comprising a chair, bench and side tables. The idea here was to create a piece of furniture from a singular sheet of metal, and by the nature of folding adding the structural rigidity. The idea was to reference origami especially when it came to creating 3D shapes from a 2D surface. “The material here was stainless steel which gives the mirrored finish which allows the furniture piece to almost disappear in its surrounding reflecting its context around it,” he says.
Architectural Digest India along with Asian Paints selected Shroff as one of the eight different designers to use one of their existing furniture pieces and incorporate any of the finishes provided by the company. “This at first was quite a challenge for me as I typically work with solid Burma teak wood, so it would be counterproductive for me to have any painted finish over the expensive beautiful wood. However, on looking at the beautiful range of finishes I had at my disposal, I decided to paint over my dining table and used 10 different shades of paint all layered on top of each other. Once painted, I personally sanded down the layers of paint at different intensities—at some points even going down to the wood to expose the burma teak below. This allowed different contours of paints to be visible. The result becomes completely unique and makes each piece be completely different from one another by nature of the sanding,” explains Shroff.
For Shroff, furniture very often becomes the testing ground for a larger research on craft. “Depending on the material and artisan, the technique of making becomes important and challenges both myself and craftsman in thinking of different ways to take the craft forward. Most of the inspiration comes from studying and understanding the craftsman,” he says. In the next month, watch out for his new collection of furniture in marble. For more information: log on to Instagram.com/RooshadShroff or https://www.facebook.com/RooshadSHROFF
For more information on the company’s work, log on to: www.thisisit.net.in