A new exhibition at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt explores the extraordinary, handcrafted work of architecture and design practice Studio Mumbai. The India-based firm was set up in 2005 by Bijoy Jain and has since captured the hearts and minds of many with their tactile, immaculately executed works.
Beginning life as a cooperative Studio Mumbai is no ordinary architecture practice. It is not set in a shiny modern building and is not staffed by just architects, designers or engineers. Made up by a mix of architects, artisans and craftspeople, the office is situated in the still-partly-rural area of Alibag, south west of the Indian metropolis, instead of, perhaps more conventionally, setting up shop in the mega-city's heart.
Mumbai-born Jain went to study in the United States at the Washington University in St Louis. He consequently went on to work for Richard Meier in Los Angeles and London, before returning to his native India in 1995 to set up his own office.
His vision involved architects and craftspeople, working together in a shared space – and that is exactly what he achieved. The Studio Mumbai complex focuses around a large shaded courtyard, where design and craft come together from the very conception of each project, to its execution and the finest detail.
With Jain at the helm of the practice, the concept development team consists of American architect Samuel Barclay, carpenter Jivaram Sutar, stonemason Pandurang Malekar and stonemason and carpenter Bhaskar Raut. Together, they create unique, one-off pieces of architecture that combine modern design, with natural, quality materials and India's traditional artisanship, feeling at one with their surroundings.