For Ashwath Narayanan, taking up design as a career was more of an accident than an aspiration. “The decision was serendipitous but the intent to do something beyond the mainstream helped me pick the direction forward,” he tells us. His time spent at the School of Interior Design, CEPT, was an “experience like no other,” where some of the sharpest creative minds made him realise that every line he’d draw had to have meaning.
In his quest to get down to brass tacks, he interned at a contracting firm to understand the technical side of design. “Once you learn how things are made, your design approach takes a 360 degree turn. You learn to balance being practical and imaginative at the same time,” says the 35-year-old design practitioner. The experience seems to have impacted his understanding of good design, which, he says, is a “by-product of logical problem-solving evolving into layered graphic elements to form a strong visual story.”
Narayanan’s professional journey started straight out of college, when he teamed up with a fellow CEPTian to work on interior and architecture projects. A couple of years later, in 2016, he and his wife Divya, another CEPTian, established 1405 Design Studio. “Contrary to common belief, I strongly believe that interior design is not only a rich man’s luxury but rather a common man’s need,” says the admirer of Carlo Scarpa, Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe. “This belief has driven us to work on a plethora of projects from small offices and luxury family homes to a kids’ experience centre and a young jewellery brand’s office.” Designed for Caratlane, the latter features a variety of spaces catering to assorted requirements and work styles. The shell houses bespoke light structures — “canopies” — within which customised workstation modules are integrated to form an ‘arrayed’ insert — hence the name Project Array.
But while Narayanan continues to work on projects big and small, he dreams of designing a house in the hills. “Living in a hot and humid place like Chennai, it will be interesting to understand the intricacies involved in designing a space for a completely different environment and climate….”
1) Beach House, Chennai
2) Farmhouse by the Lake, Bengaluru
3) Marketing Office, Hyderabad
MOST SIGNIFICANT PROJECT TO DATE: Project Array, Chennai