Q&A

Q.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an architect?

A.

I have always been fascinated by the act of ‘making’ – to create in order to express, and to enhance people’s lives. Architecture allowed me the opportunity to making something tactile, spatial, and inhabitable. My appreciation and understanding of Architecture didn’t truly begin till I started studying at the AA School of Architecture in London, where I was lucky enough to be taught by some of the most conceptual thinkers and creative architects. The next 10 years were spent working for a number of internationally renowned architects including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Peter Marino before returning to Pakistan and setting up Raza Zahid Atelier, a design house that has till date successfully produced a number of projects relating to architecture, interior design and product design. Also, involvement in academia as tutor, advisor and evaluator within Pakistan since 2009 at undergraduate and graduate level has aided towards a contemporary comprehension of current design directions and concerns within the realm of product and spatial design.

Q.

What pulled you towards product design?

A.

Though my professional career began by working on large scale projects I now find myself gravitating towards projects that are smaller in scale that compel towards design exploration and provide personal freedom of expression. Product design has provided me a platform to experiment with new materials, construction techniques and a quicker time frame within which to see the design realised. My design ideas relating to products eventually find their way to architecture and vice versa and I thoroughly enjoy the fluidity with which these transitions take place between the two fields.

Q.

What is your creative process and, in your opinion, how should a design process start?

A.

Research is the first step in the creative process in order to have an informed position on the subject and to ensure that the design has an original voice and is not repeating what has already been said before. It is also integral that a designer/architect is able to understand the issues that need to be responded to and the functionality that is required from the end product/building. Intuition plays an important role throughout the design process, addressing aesthetics and the desired appearance, combined with the development and refinement of the design through a series of iterations; till the desired outcome has been achieved. The material property and the techniques supporting that specific material help evolve a customized design process that incorporates detailing as the soul of my design process.

Q.

What inspires you?

A.

Though inspiration can come from anything and anywhere, I find myself looking towards nature, in order to understand the complexities and orders involved in its formation and its potential translation into a building or a product. I see my products as ‘moments’ within an ongoing journey of exploration and investigation, rather than an end product and in that sense, linkages can be found between the range of seemingly disconnected products designed by myself. I also want my products to challenge standards and conventions, to make people look twice, to have a sense of mystery that draws them in.

Q.

People who have influenced you creatively and intellectually?

A.

My influences vary a great deal, both in terms of the fields they belong to and the kind of work they produce. I greatly admire the buildings of Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, Peter Zumthor, Toyo Ito and Rem Koolhaas amongst others. For products, I am inspired by the designs of Marcel Wanders, Patricia Urquiola, Philippe Starck and Antonio Castiglioni. But my influences also come from others fields like fashion; Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan and within the realm of art; Mark Rothko, Jeff Koons, Richard Long and Shazia Sikander.



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