“Design is the creative tool through which the poetry of vision is communicated and Architecture is the technical infrastructure that defines the language of the space. Architecture and design must correspond to their natural surroundings in a manner that feels harmonious and symbiotic.”
ET-Insights: What was your inspiration when you took up the beach house project?
Ambika: My earliest influence, and most prevalent to this day, is the natural world; flora and fauna. I’m consistently inspired by the form, structure, colour and details of organic elements. Other current influences I consider profound are the harmonious patterns of sacred geometry, Cymatics, the Wabi-Sabi philosophy of discovering beauty within imperfection and the aesthetics of modern Scandinavian and Japanese design.
ET-Insights: What is the correlation of architecture and design?
Ambika: ‘Design’ is the creative tool through which the poetry of vision is communicated and ‘Architecture’ is the technical infrastructure that defines the language of the space. A key aspect of the correlation between the two, which is always featured in my designs, is that the architecture and design must correspond to their natural surroundings in a manner that feels harmonious and symbiotic.
ET-Insights: To what extent does sustainable architecture play a role in your projects?
Ambika: The natural ambiance of the site influences my designs and I aim to assimilate the design into the surrounding environment. I place a huge emphasis on using natural materials, providing optimal thermal comfort, incorporating ecological paints, energy-saving smart technologies and innovative materials to keep the circular economy in mind. I also focus on sourcing from companies with a “clean” ethos similar to my own.
ET-Insights: Could you offer a sneak peek into your upcoming projects?
Ambika: I am currently working on two luxury residential projects which were initiated in 2019 that are ongoing; one is a multi-floor villa in Mumbai and the second is a sky-rise condominium apartment in Dubai.
In addition to interior design and architecture, one of the unique aspects of my boutique firm ‘Impeccable Imagination’ is representing an international and diverse portfolio of esteemed Contemporary artists. I’m looking forward to the completion of two bespoke, site-specific artworks that were commissioned.
And finally, I design and produce sculptural artworks. I completed “The Dabba Luminaire” which is a series of light art installations, scheduled to launch later this year that presents a juxtaposition of the utilitarian and the esoteric as a means to convey unity and connection. I’m in the process of creating “Lost In The Embrace,” a limited edition series of sculptures that infuse a modernist aesthetic and natural themes. Another project this year is an untitled, silver-plated functional sculpture that has been commissioned to be placed atop a Joseph Walsh ‘Lumenoria’ Low Table.
ET-Insights: How do you see your profession changing after we bounce back from COVID 19?
Ambika: The current pandemic brought about a new awareness which has impacted my way of living, and with it, my design perspective. I can envision myself and my peers rethinking the function of spaces so as to alleviate the sense of isolation and lack of freedom, ensure optimal health and living conditions, as well as manage the scarcity of food and resources in the event an unfortunate scenario were to arise.
It is more relevant now than ever to design innovative spaces that elevate the spirit and are the manifestation of our individual needs and expressions. A concept I’m intrigued by and looking forward to seeing embraced is Ontological design. It is the theory that while we design our world, our world responds to design us. It is a future where our thoughts shape our spaces and design meets consciousness. As the artist Billy Childish said: “It’s all listening to the requirements of the world around you”.
With the advances in smart technology, I foresee a mainstream incorporation of artificial intelligence into the built environment that predicts our ambiance preferences i.e. light, temperature, sound and scent to name a few. A multi-sensory, transportive, high-tech environment that is based on optimized, personal, targeted design.
With regards to health, I’ve been putting more thought towards utilizing anti-microbial materials such as copper-nickel alloy, photocatalytic materials and antimicrobial paints. To prevent food scarcity it would be of immense value to consider including a vegetable potage garden when landscape planning, and a roof or hydroponic culinary garden if the space restricts.
ET-Insights: How ready is our infrastructure to face such pandemics?
Ambika: The fact that the pandemic has spread world-wide, bringing life as we know it to a screeching halt, has highlighted our dependency on a global supply chain of goods and services. Once the infrastructure is interrupted, it has a massive, reverberating impact on the economy all around the world, affecting every industry. As it relates to art, design and architecture, a unique aspect of dealing with a pandemic is that non-essential workers cannot commute or congregate for health reasons. Even after national lockdowns around the world are lifted, I can foresee inevitable delays in the completion of design projects due to production back-logs. I am also concerned for the well-being of small businesses who are an integral part of the design world, during a long economic freeze.
ET-Insights: It is the need of the hour to re-imagine emergency shelters. How are Indian architects contributing to this?
Ambika: All large scale public spaces such as parks, stadiums, recreation centres etc. should be reimagined for both indoor and outdoor use, be available within each community and self-sustain the public it serves depending on the need. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure (MEP) needs to be incorporated so that it may rapidly transform a respective space to service a new demand or function during an emergency of any kind.
Nilima David - Apr, 2014
A walk-in closet for Bollywood actor Preity Zinta, a hangout area for Mumbai fashion designer Surily Goel at home, an upmarket salon and more difficult, the interiors of her father’s bungalow in New Delhi. Ambika Hinduja Macker, the daughter of the youngest Hinduja brother Ashok, is getting more involved with design during her break from films -- she was a producer of Being Cyrus and Teen Patti. Films and design are in her blood, she says, having studied at the London International Film School and Parsons The New School for Design.
The practical side of her design instinct surfaced during a class project where they had to design a product for the home at Parsons. After visiting a lot of knife stores she met a Japanese knife master who discouraged owning a knife holder. Knife blocks are unhygienic, vulnerable to mould, dishwasher unfriendly and difficult to store. She then devised a knife book that was lightweight, made of sustainable polymer and easy to clean.
With the shift to design, she changed the name of her company from Serendipity Films to Impeccable Imagination in 2010, focusing on luxury lifestyles, interiors, real estate projects, films and an issue close to her heart: sustainable product design. In the last few years, her firm has worked with accomplished names in architecture and design.
“Impeccable Imagination is a boutique practice. It helps me place quality over quantity,” she says.
Fresh out of Parsons, the wardrobe project happened. Zinta was thrilled with the work and the word spread, one project leading to another. She designed a villa, office and jewellery studio in Dubai. Then fashion designer Goel asked Ambika to redesign her living room at Pali Hill in Mumbai. “What I love about Ambika is her love for detail, finish and perfection,” Goel says.
The hair salon, renamed Juice after being known as The Barber Shop, was given teak-panelled, mirror-lined walls, with leather swivel chairs and a black and white tiled floor for that warm, traditional feel.
Ambika has a way of creating just want the client wants.
“They say your home is simply an extension of your mind, your inner being. Ambika reads your mind and creates that home for you,” says entrepreneur Nitin Kalwani, the owner of Juice.
Designing the interiors of her father’s house in Delhi is her toughest challenge thus far. Ambika likes sustainable, contemporary design but had to keep her father’s sensibility in mind, hence they zeroed in on a design that marries classic and contemporary.
“Between my father’s tastes, (architect) Hafeez Contractor’s genius and my creativity, it is quite a meeting of minds when we share our vision for the home,” she says.
The layout has water bodies, a winter garden dedicated to meditation and prayer, and commissioned art works inspired by nature. While standing either in the front or the back lawns, it’s as if the viewer can see right through the heart of the house.
While sourcing art and furniture for the home located in Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone, Ambika discovered Irish designer Joseph Walsh whose creations in wood are found in museums and private collections and are regularly exhibited at major art and design fairs.
In the course of commissioning two Walsh works for the Lutyens villa, Ambika sensed an opportunity to associate with the designer and now represents him in India and the Middle East. His art is functional and hence has universal appeal, she says. Each piece that the self-taught Walsh makes is unique. He’s inspired by nature and the desire to engage the user with visual and tactile forms, employing wood in new and innovative ways.
Her own design sensibility is more modern and contemporary rather than traditional and classic but she’s flexible enough to believe that a marriage of the two styles can produce an eclectic product with universal appeal.
Apart from Walsh, she also likes the work of Tobias Putrih, Herve Van Der Straeten, and Paul Mathieu to name a few. She’s also keen on her own Walsh installation and has her sights on a few from his current collection.
Ambika dismisses the notion that her design work is a hobby.
“I am a hardcore entrepreneur. Whatever I do, I think scale. If the term for that is ‘businesswoman’, then yes, I am one and proudly so,” she says. “My core is clearly creative but yes, when it teams up with my head, I always endeavour to make it sustainable in every possible way.”
Husband Raman Macker shares her passion for travel, food, art and underwater. Her dream project would be to design an underwater dining experience.
She’s not giving up on films though. “Whether I express my creativity through films or design, I know I will always be telling a story. For certain, and at some point in the near future, I know my creative bent will make me gravitate towards filmmaking. Right now my heart beats for design.”