Shruti & Gopal Tanwani
It was the desire to be his own boss that drove Gopal Tanwani, hailing from a business family, to architecture. “The broad plan was to eventually set up an independent practice,” he says. Working towards this, he enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering college (JNEC), Aurangabad — where he met his future spouse and partner Shruti Tanwani. After graduation, it was a period of garnering experience about the business of architecture — which Gopal obtained at Shashi Prabhu & Associates (as an intern) and by working for a year each at Alkesh Gangwal & Associates and Manoj Kala & Associates. Shruti, too, did the same with an internship at Master & Associates and Alkesh Gangwal & Associates.
Dovetailing their respective mantras of ‘God is in the details’ and ‘Less is More’, Shruti and Gopal established Portico Design Concepts (PDC) in 2011, a mere two years after graduation, with the basic objective of satisfying the end user without compromising on the aesthetics. While Gopal looks after the technical details, site executions and client handling, Shruti handles back office and looks after design and research.“The strength of the firm,” says Gopal, “is the co-ordination between us.” While their key roles in the organisation may be distinct, PDC’s founders are united in their approach to design. “Design has to be simple and timeless, with every element having its own importance/presence. It has to respect climate, context, materials,” say the admirers of master of tropical modernism Geoffrey Bawa.
“Each project has the capacity to add to the learning... If you need to survive in this competitive world, then every project has to be more significant than the previous one,” declare the 32-year-old architects when asked to name a path-breaking assignment. Having said this, they label Mittal Optics showroom in Aurangabad as interesting because it involved giving a new look to a 50-year-old brand and looking at an eyewear showroom in a different way. That it won the You & Eye award (2017) for best store display and design (eyewear boutiques, non-metro), validated all the hard work that went into its making. “As architects, we continuously engage in something new, by way of concepts or elements. Keeping updated is a must in any field,” insist Shruti and Gopal. “And when you start enjoying your work, you automatically create a balance in your life...”