I had the opportunity to view Rooshad Shroff’s solo debut show – 15,556 Man Hours represented by Pundole Gallery earlier this year during the India Design Fair 2017 at Bikaner House, New Delhi. These were 26 pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables, benches, screens, daybed, and lighting in three distinct techniques – colour sanding, zardozi embroidery using french knots and monolithic marble hollowed and carved out. Being a big fan of handmade and crafts of India it was a sea change from other designed products, driving home his point of ‘authorship’.
So recently, I decided on connecting the dots with him. Belonging to a family of architects – father, brother and sister-in-law whilst his mother is an interior designer, he has spent much of his childhood at Rumy Shroff & Associates. After finishing under-graduation from Cornell University, he pursued a Masters in Architecture at Harvard. Thereon, started working with OMA/REX in NYC. Here, was a part of a team which designed the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, challenging themselves with a modern flexible space instead of a conventional theatre design. Later, shifted continents for Zaha Hadid Architects in London.
Yet dissatisfaction at a subconscious level crept into the folds of his brain making him feel like a slave to technology; without much ingenuity or humaneness. This prompted his return to Mumbai, eventually setting up of his own practice in 2011. Even though the entire portfolio speaks volumes there were a few highbrow projects like the Marble Bulbs for EDIDA, a stainless steel seater inspired by origami for which he was one of the winners of Godrej Design Lab (in association with ELLE DECOR India in 2015), lately the resin and brass Tubelights for Atmosphere (2017), caught my attention.
“This marble inlay work, too, is a prototype in monochromes for tableware leading to larger organic shapes in architecture and interiors. Its referencing the work of a French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The linear geometric motifs were crafted by 5-6 old artisans in Agra, who have taken nearly a year to bring it to fruition keeping in mind all the rigours of my design…. to begin with I will use them as charger plates for a formal sit-down party at my place” quipped the radical experimenter about his latest.
Lastly closing the circle he mentioned his admiration for Campana Brothers, Studio Jobs and Ronan and Erwan Bourollec brothers – few furniture and product designers who have an investigative approach to design, while pushing the limits with distinctive pieces. After finishing this interview I came across a quote by Flannery O’Connor in “Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it” which summed up the real essence of Rooshad’s work for me .