Kalhan Mattoo & Santha Gaur Mattoo (with video)

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"Kalhan Mattoo & Santha Gaur Mattoo"
is a design & build studio where creativity, skill and knowledge are essentials and everybody is encouraged to bring an intellectual and creative mind-set to work. A firm in which experienced architects, interior designers, project management professionals work in a non hierarchical, communized environment, discussing and sharing insights very informally. The creative energy, skill and dedication of our team is next to none.

For a studio that is eight years old and with less than twenty designers at any point in time, we have already won numerous international and national awards and secured many design intensive hospitality, institutional, adaptive re-use, corporate, retail, and residential projects across different categories. From institutional facilities to product design and everything in between. The reason we do not restrict ourselves to any particular segment of design opportunity is because we get energized with new challenges. We love cross fertilization of ideas, where insights from hospitality situation are applied in corporate situation and in turn in design of healthcare facilities!

Slide show of Planet3studios

The essence of our way is to address the fundamentals through intense programming, offer solutions that balance wit and wisdom, keep it fresh and never lose the visual appeal. We believe that it is possible to be profound and light hearted at the same time. We do not burden ourselves with ‘isms’ and focus on the context, the client and the realities of budget and time. We seek to define the design determinants by inhabiting and experiencing the client’s business, requirement (stated and unstated) and processes. Architects from our studio dig deep through research and by physical experience to understand and formulate the design program. Out of this exhaustive process, we collect useful data and mine it for nuggets of insight and points of inspiration. Our design never happens in vacuum. It is rooted in context.

The stylistic representation of the concepts or ideas is again what is best suited for the situation. Also, importantly for us, for any design to succeed, a clearly articulated line of thought should bind it all together. The three dimensional interpretation has to be consistent and careful. Added to that, an element of gentle surprise, a conceptual departure, that, in hindsight would appear almost intuitive. Our most recent work typifies the coming of age of Indian architectural design. It remains forward looking, contemporary and global in its substance and yet draws deeply from local context.

In a developing country like India, access to affordable construction skills and technology is always a concern. Many of our initial projects did not come up to our expectations. We realized that our commitment does not end with only design. For some selective projects, we accept the enhanced responsibility of construction as well. As designers and constructors we become singularly answerable for our creations. Our master-builder initiative is our way of putting up our hand and saying that we ‘know what we are talking about’ and that it can be built in time, within budget and at the quality desired with no recourse to excuses. It also allows us to improvise in real-time on sites. We enjoy the flexibility, control and deeper satisfaction that these projects bring. Also, importantly, we find it eminently ethical.

Within our studio, there is a mantra: Talk less, build more. We ensure that our concepts are rapidly implemented. Almost all of our studio work has converted into built projects. We keep pushing the envelope incrementally, but we remain insistent. Our design perspective is anchored in constructability. If it can’t be built, it is an academic exercise and we are not an academic institution. We design well and ensure that it is built proper. Period.

About Kalhan & Santha: Graduated from Sir JJ college of Architecture in 1996 and founded Planet 3 Studios in late 1998. Kalhan and Santha are invited to speak at various industry forums and regularly contribute articles and opinions to leading industry journals. Working closely with the academic community, they have organized workshops, field trips and lectures for students and faculty at various colleges. Advocates of work-life balance, they make time for outdoor adventure and encourage friends, family and studio to participate.
Recent Awards:
  • HONOR Award from DesignShare,USA, 2007
  • ‘Young Designer of the Year 2007’, Better Interiors Excellence Award
  • Indian Institute of Architects award for excellence in design of public spaces 2007
  • Excellence in Design of Public Spaces, 2007 Better Interiors Magazine
  • A+D Spectrum foundation Award 2007
  • Institute of Indian Interior Designers National Award 2007
  • Institute of Indian Interior Designers Regional Award 2007
  • Godrej IIID Workstation Design competition 2007
  • A+D Spectrum Foundation Award 2006
  • Innovation in Stainless Steel, Jindal Award 2006
  • ‘Young Designer of the Year 2005’,Indian Architect & Builder Magazine

Recent feature publications:

  • School Construction News, USA
  • Perspective Magazine, Hong Kong
  • Interior + Design Magazine, Russia
  • Schools for Life, UK
  • Economic Times, India
  • Mid-day, India
  • DNA, India
  • Platform magazine, India
  • Inside Outside, India
  • A+D Magazine, India
  • Construction World, India
  • Better Interiors, India
  • Indian Architect and Builder, India

Contact: Info:
Kalhan Mattoo: Principal Architect and Director: kalhan@planet3studios.com cell: 91 9821215517
Santha Gour Mattoo: Principal Architect and Director santha@planet3sudios.com cell: 91 9821434631
Studio: Planet 3 Studios Architecture Pvt. Ltd, 224/225 Dimple Arcade, Asha Nagar, Kandivali East, Mumbai 400101, Tel: 91 22 66995442.

Please tell us the Inspiration/Motivation behind starting Planet 3 Studios?
Well, we thought that we had a unique perspective that needed to be expressed!

Which of your projects or designs has given you great satisfaction? Please explain them in brief.
Vidyalankar Institute of Technology’ for re-inventing the standard campus build in India, ‘Crossover, Tube and Ville Chaumiere’ for discerning patron need-states and effectively addressing it architecturally, ‘Seahorse Building Products Retail’ for challenging retail design notions, ??ood court at Pune’ for evoking local context in a contemporary fashion and ‘Out of the Box Workstation’ for inventing a ready to use workstation

How many Architectural and interior design projects have you designed? Please tell us about different sectors in which your architectural works can be found.
About sixty in all. Educational facilities, office buildings, corporate offices, BPOs, Call centers, lounges, bars, restaurants, spa, resorts, hotels, healthcare facilities, exhibition spaces, retail spaces, multifamily housing, residential, adaptive-reuse, product design etc.

What are major aspects you focus on while building up an architectural and interior design project?
Context, constraint and opportunity. Context: End user, community, location, culture, climate, history, competition, etc. that help achieve a deeper and richer understanding. Constraint: Reality of budget, time and constructibility, Opportunity: What real value we are able to add through design.

You have sought advice of behavioral psychologists, MBA experts and sociologists for a number of their projects .How helpful has it been in your works?
We think that the key to solving any design problem is in understanding it right. A multidisciplinary approach is useful in tackling complex issues. Wonderful insights are gained by talking to multiple stakeholders and especially those who possess unique perspectives outside the realm of ‘common knowledge’. Engaging them and learning from them has improved the quality of our response.

What are the various challenges you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Being a young firm, we have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves. In a profession dominated by practitioners double our age, we invariably end up being the youngest in the room! However, we stay focused on being the brightest!

Driving force behind your success.
1. Thinking out of the box and challenging priori notions.
2. Being unafraid of conceptual departures
3. Willingness to get hands dirty with on-site construction
4. Investing in and retaining the best available talent
5. Thinking ahead in time.

Future plan of Planet 3 Studios.
Indian design is coming of age. We think it is a fantastic time for Indian designers to take their practices international. Our studio is attracting talent from outside India and we anticipate this migration of talent to opportunity will happen both ways. We look forward to taking the brand ‘Planet 3 Studios’ global.

Please share your work mantra with the readers, especially with the aspiring architects and entrepreneurs.
Have fun doing what you do! We consciously derive pleasure and pride from our work. This seems to work for us!

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