Ali Bakir Baldiwala
For Ali Bakir Baldiwala, it is all in the family. As he says, “Having an interior designer for a father naturally drew me to this field. I have fond memories of seeing him at work, sketching and occasionally visiting sites. Being curious and creative were traits that came naturally to me.”
Baldiwala received his diploma in interior design from Rachana Sansad, Mumbai, in 2008. “School allowed me to further my passion in design. It gave me a direction and a thought process that I could not have achieved otherwise,” he insists. “Intuitive guidance from our faculties in the early years helped me to conceptualise my ideas and rationalise my designs. Apart from this, I also managed to get a good grasp on scale, proportions, anthropometry and ergonomics – which are significant aspects of design.”
The designer, who worked with Neterwala and Aibara thereafter, says, “I can confidently say that my foundation in the professional world was laid in this organisation. The manner in which they dealt with clients, their work ethics and, most important, their design process and philosophy is something that I not only learnt – but also strongly believe in.”
After a two-year stint with them, he decided to join his father, who had cemented himself in this industry for almost four decades. Baldiwala says, “Once I was on board, it was my sheer passion that pushed me to create designs that were fresh and relevant. With almost 10 years of professional experience now, I can definitely say that I have furthered what my father began and taken it to the next level.”
Baldiwala is also inspired by international designers like Yabu Pushelberg and Zaha Hadid. Now 32, his sensibility having matured with time, he admits, “In the initial years, my objective was to create designs that had the quintessential ‘wow’ moments...and it was more playful in terms of bringing concepts and imagination to life. With time, I learned that designing a space comes with a bigger responsibility, since the client is entrusting us with their space. I have evolved into a person for whom the aesthetics are still important, but it is far more important to create a space with facets of longevity and sustainability.”
The designer prefers to stay away from projects that require him to only design and not execute. “The best analogy I can think of, is a mother giving birth to a child and asking someone else to raise it,” he declares.
One of his favourite projects is the Bachelor Pad in Mumbai. The brief required the creation of an uber chic New York loft in an exquisite yet dilapidated 100-year-old building, where the floor plan was erratically sprinkled with numerous columns. “For me, as a designer, it was the first of its kind,” recalls Baldiwala. “Throughout the process, I was in constant doubt of what the end product would be, as I was taking a huge risk in terms of the variety of materials, finishes and details being employed or executed on site. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a spectacular project, with the client momentously acknowledging my efforts.”
A believer in the timelessness of design, Baldiwala observes, “With the aim of making our designs global, we are forgetting our heritage. I see myself as a victim of this trend, and I am trying to be the change – where my designs are not only current and contextual, but also pay homage to the local crafts.”
Acting is a hobby, and he tries to participate in workshops, as they teach him about life. “I take inspiration from these moments to infuse drama in my designs,” shares Baldiwala.