From designing furniture to creating stationery and working on brand identities alongside, Ajay Shah has had a diverse design journey that shows no sign of taking the beaten path!
How were you drawn to furniture design?
AS: Post my studies in Mumbai, I was drawn to NID as my brother was studying there. I used to visit him during my holidays and gradually found myself attracted to the teaching methods, workshops and conversations around design. Post the foundation year, I had to choose a discipline that I wanted to specialize in. I can’t remember exactly what led me to choose furniture design, but once I had taken this call it grew on me very fast. I graduated from NID in mid-1987 and went on to work with a design studio in Mumbai and then a company where I was involved in designing and overseeing the production of furniture.
What has been the evolution of the design studio and where do you see yourself at this stage?
AS: The studio’s evolution has been mostly unplanned and highly instinctive. We started off by designing furniture and then moved into retail and commercial space design during the formative years. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a greater influx of branding projects that has scaled from creating identities, positioning and brand strategy, packaging, publication, communication and even campaign design. We’ve also worked in a broader range of sectors, ranging from large, legacy brands to new-age start-ups that show a lot of potentials. As a studio that’s been comfortable with more traditional mediums, we’re now strengthening our digital capabilities and are actively collaborating with experts in various tech domains.
What is the importance of establishing your own brands versus providing design services?
AS: The answer is simple: there is greater design independence when you have your own brand/s. However, providing services and establishing other brands reaps its own rewards. There’s greater variety but it also needs a greater amount of patience, as it comes with its own set of challenges. It needs discipline and drives to keep going at it against many odds.