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Space Design

Creating a sound photorealistic render involves staying true to a process that keeps the intention of the render in mind at all times.

An idea usually doesn’t immediately get translated into a final render. Rather, it is arrived at after several iterations that allow for subtle changes that can make all the difference to the final output.

These adjustments broadly come from two main areas – Elements & Textures, and Lighting.

Here’s a sneak peak into how we used these elements to create Zeitgeist’s ‘Wabi Sabi Hotel Lobby’ render from a couple of weeks ago.

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of embracing the beauty in imperfection. To achieve this, we brought together machine-cut marble and quarry waste into the waiting area of a hotel lobby.


It began with a distressed finish wall, a water body, planters, light fixtures, benches and a reception table in the centre.

The table’s driftwood base fused to each crude edge accommodates the raw marble centrepiece and the meticulously cut Statuario slab hugs the curves of the cedar wood block it sits on.

Using the process of elimination, we brought in the warm, minimalist Zeitgeist touch. The video below shows how we moved the plants around, played with the lamp sizes and tried different arrangements for the benches, finally deciding to eliminate them entirely, along with the water body – all to give the unique reception desk the undivided attention it deserved.


To make a good shot look great, it needs mood – and nothing does this better than the right lighting. The video below shows how we played with the light coming from the lamps, the ceiling and the water to stimulate thought and imagination, .

This illuminated the way to the two final shots of our hotel lobby render – raw, minimalist and Wabi Sabi.


Design Strategy

Have you been thinking about trying out co-creation at your organisation, but don’t know where to begin?

Co-creation as an evolving concept can sometimes create a feeling of ambiguity. At its core however are a few basic principles around which the act of co-creation can be customised depending on need and environment.

In the first part of our series on co-creation, we explored what the concept was and how it is the optimum tool for developing solutions to complex problems. In the next part we examined companies that have been successful in their co-creation ventures. The third part looked at the inextricable link between technology and the ultimate goal of co-creation – innovation, for value creation.

This post looks at how to go about enabling co-creation. What are the key psychological and operational elements that make up a successful co-creation endeavour? We’ve narrowed it down to 7 principles.

1.  Unlock Minds

Effective co-creation requires a certain kind of mindset – an attitude that encapsulates humility, empathy and transparency.

At the heart of co-creation lies humility. A know-it-all attitude is not conducive to co-creation. The belief that there can be another and possibly better way of doing things is key.

Another vital element is the ability to empathise with the end user. This enables the development of solutions that actually solve the problem. The parties to co-creation must also be transparent with each other, which in turn means that a high degree of trust and integrity must exist.

Not all organisations (either intentionally or unintentionally) embody these aspects in their corporate culture. The first step would thus be to expose the people in your team to the synergetic potential of co-creation. Besides sharing concepts, sharing practical examples of co-creation, such as those we spoke about in our article Co-Creation: More Than Just a Buzzword is an impactful way to showcase the power of co-creation.

Clear directives and training, which explain the benefits of co-creation open up the mind to new ways of innovating, and state what the purpose of the endeavour is, without being too restrictive in nature, so as not to stifle creativity.

The idea is to empower, not overpower your team.

2.  Plan for Harmony, Prepare for Chaos

As with any successful venture, a good plan is essential. Besides setting clear objectives, the co-creation plan must also take into consideration how the initiator will go about infusing a culture of humility, empathy and transparency – if it doesn’t already exist – into the company.

This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but as the initiator you must work to foster such an environment, keeping in mind that co-creation requires a change in mindset and perhaps a change in organisational culture as well, which employees may not always take in their stride.

It can be demotivating when the required change isn’t forthcoming. You must thus always keep in mind that a change in mindset is a process requiring patience and persistence, and not a one time event.

Co-creation can be successful only if a spirit of collaboration is encouraged and nurtured. This could take the form of collaboration within the organisation, with outsiders, with the end user or with other stakeholders.

However, collaborating means that several parties from various backgrounds come together – a situation that if not structured properly, could lead to undesired outcomes, misunderstandings and chaos in general.

Having a plan and sticking to it alone isn’t enough. One must be prepared to handle change and the uncertainty it can bring. In fact, unpredictability must be embraced, for it is through unpredictability that one is able to discover new possibilities and explore their application and feasibility.

3.  Put People First

Any co-creation endeavour must put people first. This takes two forms.

First, your team must be clear that the end user’s requirements must remain at the forefront of their decision making and ideation processes at all times. This could be extended to include encouraging the end user to explore his creativity in discovering a solution. End users have the invaluable advantage of hands on experience, but they don’t always recognise this fact.

Secondly, you, as the initiator, must keep your co-creation team motivated at all times. Incentives, recognition and appreciation are key; people like to be valued for their contribution. Equally important is feedback and support, to nurture development of the concept, keep lines of communication open and to help overcome barriers, which are an inevitable outcome of a new way of doing things.

Co-creation should be looked at as a win-win for all concerned and must focus on value creation for all the stakeholders involved – this ensures enthusiastic participation.

4.  Connect Creativity

The trends and innovations of the past 10 years or so across industries and businesses appear to indicate a shift towards more creative, non-traditional ways of developing solutions. This ties in directly with co-creation, which encourages connecting diverse creativity.

For example, one doesn’t traditionally see an architect working with a psychologist. But what if the psychologist could help the architect to understand the behaviour patterns and motivations of the particular market the architect is designing for? Isn’t it likely to generate a more user-centric and effective design?

As an initiator of co-creation you should encourage and facilitate connections between the people who could be most effective to your particular projects. At large companies this could also mean letting go of traditional approaches to innovation and management hierarchies.

In order to solve complex problems, people should be allowed to to freely and rapidly exchange information. This could take various forms, from reducing red tape to facilitating online platforms for interaction.

5.  Pick Pertinent Partners

While Point 4 above indicates opening up the avenues of creativity by including co-creators from various backgrounds, it is important to understand that this must be balanced with choosing the correct people for your particular project.

For example, if attempting to achieve major breakthrough ideas, it makes sense to include technologically sound partners – the best if possible – sometimes even with a competitor, as our example of co-creation between Apple and Microsoft in Part-2 of this series showed. On the other hand, if co-creating something for the greater good, it makes sense to include people with similar values, interests and goals. Wikipedia is a good example, with the common goal of participants being knowledge sharing at a single point.

6.  Capitalise on Technology

Technology, as discussed in our earlier article, can be a big asset to co-creation. The idea though shouldn’t be to try to utilise every new technological innovation that is developed, but rather to examine which technologies could enhance your particular co-creation undertaking, in terms of speed, quality, reach and precision.

7.  Fail Faster, Grow Quicker

Finally, any co-creation endeavour must accept that not every idea that comes to light may be an appropriate one. The initiator must be prepared for this and be able to weed out the ideas that are not in keeping with the objectives.

Similarly, preparation must be made for what will happen post the idea generation stage – an action plan for how to practically apply a great idea. Once ideas have been shortlisted, it is important to rapidly prototype and test the practical feasibility of it their application. The faster you eliminate ideas or discover potential problems, the closer you are to finding the most effective solution.

Have you tried co-creation at your organisation? Share your experience with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page @zeitgeistdesignanddevelopment


Space Design

How do you ensure you will create your Client’s vision, but with your designer touch?


Passion, dedication and detail will be the driving forces behind every project being a success. When you are designing the project, slip yourself into the Client’s shoes – and often this is no easy task! You have to think like the Client and eat, sleep and breathe like the Client to get the best out of the process. When you have meetings stay focused, attentive and sensitive, make note of phrases or points that stand out and always try to empathise.


Our process at Zeitgeist begins with a few casual meetings over a meal or a cuppa good coffee. Ask what music they like, what their childhood was like, where they grew up and what their interests are – keep it light. Get out of the “professional” bubble if you really want to build a personal rapport with you Client. The key is to get personal!


Here comes our design questionnaire. Think about how you frame your questions. It’s not just about aesthetic preferences. Get to know your Client’s daily routine, their personal hygiene routine, what they wear during the different times of the day, weekday and weekends. Find out what they enjoy doing with their free time at home and where. The point here is to get to know your Client and your passion will ensure that you go as deep as possible by probing them with the right questions without being afraid of getting too personal.


The communication process throughout the project is key to ensuring a successful conversion of your Client’s vision. Constant dialogue and encouraging engagements throughout the course of your project with the Client will ensure a successful translation of your Client’s vision. Watch their body language and be a great listener. Keep repeating back to them what they say and summarising your understanding of what they are trying to say.


Finally, the binding agent to ensure that you, the designer, are still leading the vision of the project, is to become an encouraging and engaging leader on this journey. Ask what they know about design. Expose them to your understanding of design and lead the way in the process of discovering design.

Raoul Parekh
Founder & Chief – Design Management


Design Strategy

At the root of good product, service or system design is the desire to create something of use and value to the intended end user. So if your goal is to create good design, keeping your focus on either solving the end user’s problem or enhancing his existing experience is key to getting you there.

In the past, when developing new products or improving existing ones, innovation, in general, was based on the interpretation of information gathered via market research. It was restrictive in its approach.

A more recent innovation technique that is particularly effective in today’s world is co-creation. About ten years ago, it was observed that: “Companies today are moving from just collecting customer reactions to actively inviting customers to participate in creating and developing new products. The traditional company-centric approach to product innovation is giving way to a world in which companies co-create products with consumers.” *

The concept of co-creation has evolved since then and today it has expanded to allow not only customers, but also other stakeholders and professionals to be a part of the innovation process. The Financial Times Lexicon definition explains the evolved concept well:


The problems and needs of people today are much more complex and interconnected than they were 20 years ago, requiring more innovative solutions than ever before. Co-creation, being multi-pronged in its approach, has the power to enable us to progress:

1. From Obscurity to Clarity

Complex problems can be difficult to break down. As opposed to many other approaches, co-creation often takes place at the beginning of the innovation process and involves the end user right from the start. This means that even before you begin the ideation phase, you are one step closer to creating value – by obtaining a true understanding of what the end user really requires. It’s like a doctor prescribing treatment for your ailment – the treatment will only be effective if a correct diagnosis has been made.

2. From Detachment to Empathy

Co-creation gives designers, business owners, researchers, vendors and other stakeholders the opportunity to get into the shoes of the end user. If you learn to empathise, you are more likely to approach the task at hand with greater compassion. In other words, you are more likely to create appropriate and valuable solutions.

3. From Alienation to Involvement

Co-creation encourages responsible co-ownership – when the parties involved in the process feel empowered to make a difference and have a stake in the outcome, they are likely to be more invested.

4. From Rigidity to Customisation

By enabling participation of the end user and offering customisation, co-creation allows you to do more than just problem solve; it provides you with a means to enable customer delight, a valuable element in building and maintaining brand loyalty in today’s highly competitive market place.

5. From Uncertainty to Cohesiveness

Complexity is fraught with uncertainty. By bringing varied expertise to the table, co-creation allows a complex problem to be examined from several angles. This cohesive approach allows you to transform fragmented ideas into robust, effective solutions.

Co-creation, like the Internet, empowers you to use the collective force of a group to enhance lives and the world you live in.

It is this intrinsic synergy of co-creation that enables us to deliver innovative solutions, even in the face of today’s highly complex and ever evolving environment.

*Peter C. Honebein and Roy F. Cammarano, “Customers at Work,” Marketing Management 15, no.8 (January-February 2006): 26-31; Peter C. Honebein and Roy F. Cammarano, Creating Do-It-Yourself Customers: How Great Customer Experiences Build Great Companies (Mason, OH: Texere Southwestern Educational Publishing, 2005).


Design Strategy
Do Focus Groups Still Hold Value?

In business development today, design thinking has taken the world by storm. Being a critical process for innovation, this kind of thinking sets one apart from competition as it always builds solutions around user needs. Initial processes are heavily embedded in R&D and there are multiple tools to collect data. Some of these tools have been tried, tested and incorporated into the evolutionary process and some have been spat out like dinner that has gone off.

Today we explore focus groups. Traditionally, focus groups were used by marketers in the early stages of concept development to test and determine overall strategy and direction before a product was pushed out to the public. Marketers would invite different segments of the market in to collect qualitative data from participants who had potential interests in a Brand’s offering.

As internal business processes evolved into innovation driven offerings, we began to see focus groups used in the frameworks of Design Thinking also. But how much accurate qualitative information can we really collect from these groups?

If you are going to use focus groups as part of your process there are a few things to remember:

1. Focus groups should be used to help refine a concept. They will not help you find an innovative idea.
2. Focus groups are not always accurate as there is a dramatic influence from other participants of permeated thinking which puts the quality of the research into question.
3. Focus groups should ONLY be used for high level feedback.
4. Focus groups are used early on in the design process to validate initial assumptions. These could include ideas on potential product solutions and market segments.

So How Do We Conduct Focus Groups?

Always Begin With Really Drawing Out The Business Goals
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who are you trying to help? What are the products you would like to offer? How do you think you might alleviate a human pain point? Once you have a clear list of business goals you will need to really identify why you are doing this research, and extract specific research questions that can help you validate these goals. For example, a business goal might be that you would like to create more of a connect with the millennial market to help reduce depression. This is a really nice goal and idea but who are these millennials? What are the smaller market segments you are talking to that have faced the problem of feeling unconnected and depressed? You might find in a small sample size that healthy fitness crazy millennials don’t really feel disconnected or depressed. And that will drive your research deeper.

Maintain Control Of The Group
Being a focus group moderator can be quite a daunting task for a newbie. Fear not. No-one takes offense to you gently pulling back the conversation to your research goals. I suggest that you also have a level two moderator – someone who is there for support incase discussions get intense or out of control. This can often happen when you are trying to solve a problem of a sensitive nature in different market segments. Perhaps one person wants a prayer room, and the other thinks it’s just a waste of space.

Framed Questions Make A World Of Difference
Without realising it humans being always want to close out a problem without really understanding it. This can be true of focus groups also. Instead of trying to find a definitive answer, look for ways to build question upon question to uncover the multiple layers of a problem. One person in your focus group might say that access to healthy food is easy, when in fact they do not even eat healthy food. It will be your job to probe further. And perhaps you then uncover that it is just too expensive for that market segment to buy health food on a continual basis.

Encourage Healthy Conversation
Do a round of introductions. They world is full of different people. Look and listen for the ones that seem confident enough to share their story initially, and use it as a base point to spark more conversation. This will set the tone. Then move your attention to the more introverted participants and probe. It could just begin with an open-ended question like ‘what’s your take on that?’ or ‘how might this have affected you?’

Bring In Variety
Try to pull in different market segments that are all interested in the topic at hand. For example, you are trying to create a business that helps the elderly find peace in the aging process. You will have to recruit people with disabilities, people who are lonely and whose kids live far away, people who have lost a spouse….you get the idea.

Allow Your Stakeholders To Be Part Of The Process
In focus groups information can be lost. Open up the conversation to your stakeholders by either asking them to observe the session in house, or use collaborative tools for video conferencing. They might pick up on something you don’t!

Focus groups as a form of R&D still have a place in the design process if you know how and when to use them. They can provide you with overarching feedback to refine a core concept to help you make strategic decisions in a cost effective, quick manner. They aren’t , however, a substitute for much deeper qualitative research where you can observe or interview users in their natural habitat for innovative idea generation.

Madhuri Rao
Founder & Chief
Design Strategy


Brand Strategy

Have you ever wondered why some brands appeal to you right from their logo through to all their viewable content across channels?

It’s because you understand the language. And just like alphabets make words that are the building blocks of English , a moodboard creates anchors to visual language that make a brand.

And as we all know, a brand is NOT just a logo.

The Beginnings Of A Strong Brand

So you have an idea – an outstanding business plan that makes sense to execute in today’s market. And you feel the excitement of sharing this with EVERYBODY. And then you stop short. How are you going to communicate this perfect little brain child of yours?

Always begin with a moodboard.

Allow yourself to explore images, patterns, colors, typography, illustrations and textures that inspire you to develop your business. If you believe your business has a fresh and innovative offering, look for elements that will continue to inspire that feeling. This becomes your base point for development. Zeitgeist uses Pinterest as a tool to gather these ingredients – something that would be hugely beneficial to a rookie too.

Identifying The Communication Process

Depending on how creative the Client is, we choose to either create a tangible mood board for interaction, or a digital mood board to confirm direction. Based on your resources and preferences you can do the same. I personally prefer a board that I can touch, to drive the senses even deeper.

Then, begin to arrange your elements to make sense visually. Perhaps you decided to club categories together, perhaps you prefer to jumble things into what works for you mentally. The idea is to get you to start feeling like your business is being rooted into something visually communicative for your target market. If you feel the board is getting too heavy, it’s okay to remove a few elements, or if you feel right about it, split them into two, to analyse two potential directions. There is no wrong or right. This is just conceptual.

Now you have your anchor. As you develop your brand remember to keep looking back at your moodboard to draw continually from those elements that inspired you to begin with. If you stay rooted to the same colors, typography and imagery, you will begin to see your Brand speaking its own language to your potential market.

From Design Brief To Mood Board

Today Zeitegist shares two digital mood boards with distinct directions, based around the design brief for SmartFarm, that nudged the Client into choosing a clear road map going forward.

Hope this helps! Happy Designing 🙂

The Design Brief

SmartFarm represents a marriage between agriculture and technology.

The brand language should be ‘Young’, ‘Fun’, ‘Relevant’ and ‘Flexible’.

The brand identity needs to appeal to both, B2B and B2C market segments.

The mood board that follows brings together a collection of images, colours, patterns and art that render an uncompromising, more corporate but approachable feel to the brand language:

This collection of images, colors, patterns and art brings a more congenial and sophisticated yet friendly feel to the brand:

Madhuri Rao,
Founder & Chief,
Design Strategy


Space Design

Your home is your cocoon, more so on cacophonic days when the chaos and noise just won’t cease. In today’s context of the way our world and people operate, peace of mind is highly sought after, yet seems to elude us most of the time.

So how do you get there…or at least halfway?

Your home is your true identity and completely yours to control. So, what better way than to let your home provide you the peace and solace that you require? We have understood your intrinsic desire to attain peace and bring you seven Japanese Design Principles that are deeply embedded in Zen Philosophy.
These principles have not only inspired the magnificent traditional Japanese gardens but have also encouraged the desire for holistic and better living. The beauty and tranquillity of such spaces leave you feeling calm, connected, and complete.

Sounds tempting?

Well, we have summarised these seven principles into ideas that you could easily incorporate into your home to create a clean and harmonious flow of energy.

Idea 1: Imagine Your Space as an Extension of Your Mind

A heavily cluttered space leads to a burdened and unclear mind. Are you overwhelmed and zapped of energy every time you open your cluttered garage or storage room?
Perhaps a bit of Kanso – or decluttering – can help you put the space to a more purposeful use. Here’s a simple method to give you a jump-start. Make a list of all your things and categorise them into 4 actionable tasks:

A) Need to Keep: All things you cannot ‘survive’ without
B) Want to Keep: All things you cannot ‘live’ without
C) To Give: Things that can add value to another
D) To Throw: Things that need to go

REMEMBER: The decision to declutter may be difficult as it’s tough to part with things. This little list trick simply helps us organise the road to success.
Living in a clutter free space, allows for a clutter free mind that can focus on what matters most.

Idea 2: Embrace Irregularities and Imperfections

We often get caught up in chasing the idea of perfection – the perfect job, clothes, body and home. We want to live up to a notion of what is “ideal”. Not to say we must not strive for improvement, but sometimes things are right just the way they are.

Fukensei encourages acceptance – finding joy in the little imperfections. It highlights uniqueness and drives an emotional experience. So, why not extend this to the décor of your home?

Instead of polishing and refurbishing that old armchair you just inherited from your grandmother, why not leave it as it is – reminiscent of her life? Or repurpose a discarded piece of wood into a storage box or small tabletop. It’s a way of paying homage to beauty as it occurs in our naturally imperfect world.

Idea 3: Practice Restraint Without Compromising on Functionality

In today’s world, extravagance and excessiveness is often considered a sign that you have arrived. The principle of Shibui however suggests that a design that delivers its intended function in a quiet, unobtrusive manner need not be decorated in order to make it attractive. Admiring the design for how well it serves a function, by leaving it as it is, is its true appreciation. It alludes to a refined taste and an understanding of good design. It encourages minimalism, by keeping the focus on what is important.

Keeping this idea in mind, try to incorporate designs that are clean, functional and practical. This enhances focus and alludes to sophistication rather than pretentiousness. For example, if you have a living room with a fabulous view, don’t take away from its panoramic beauty by adorning windows with heavy curtains or walls with distracting paintings.

Idea 4: Strike a Balance Between Natural and Intentional Elements

Living in or close to nature could extend your life. Greenery has been known to have a calming effect and keep your mind focused. Coupled with this are physical benefits such as cleaner air.

The principle of Shizen refers to design that takes cognizance of nature and adapts to it, but always keeps the function of the design in mind. It is possible for you to infuse some of the positive benefits of nature into your home, even if you live in a small apartment. Here are some ways to do just that:

– Introduce potted plants around the house. Even a single plant on your work desk or bathroom sink can bring in a little bit of nature’s positivity.
– Cultivate a micro herb garden on your kitchen windowsill. You’ll be able to use freshly plucked herbs in all your cooking.
– Improve your productivity and enjoy the benefits associated with the natural light of the sun by placing your work desk where it gets maximum sunshine.

Idea 5: Don’t Fear Ambiguity; Invite Discovery

Yugen suggests that when we define something completely – for example, if we say that a dining table can be used only for eating – it leads to stagnation and loss of imagination.

Including elements in your décor that could be open to interpretation unlocks possibilities and encourages imagination. It could be as simple as a painting that provokes thought; or a bar stool made out of a tree stump that could find alternative uses – a side table perhaps. A dining table that has an easy to clean surface, like a granite top, could be used for diverse activities – from art projects to rolling dough. This principle finds particular use in small spaces.

Idea 6: Break Patterns; Encourage Unpredictability

Do you often feel like a hamster on a wheel? Doing the same thing day after day after day, in a monotonous ‘need to do’ cycle?

Datsuzoku encourages moving away from routine and towards surprise and amazement. By bringing this principle into the design of your home’s interiors, you can create spaces – little respites – that allow your mind a break from your otherwise clockwork existence.

Most of us have at least one room or space in our home that we believe is uninteresting, but exists to serve a specific purpose – a small, poorly lit and unengaging guest washroom for example. Bringing in the element of surprise, such as by adding a thought-provoking and strategically lit painting, photo, framed quote or interesting patterned wallpaper can transform the energy of the space.

Idea 7: Find Serenity in the Midst of Disturbance

The world we live in today is hectic, demanding and distracting. Amidst all that distress, what you really need is peace and contemplation. But often we don’t take a “time-out”, leaving us vulnerable to burnout and exposing ourselves to a variety of health problems – a result of our human tendency to procrastinate, delay, and take things for granted.

Seijaku refers to incorporating elements that bring about a feeling of calm and stillness, even in the midst of chaos. So, to avoid the usual “it’s never too late”, fix things today, and create at least one space in your home that is conducive to relaxation, meditation and rejuvenation.
Pick a room in your home – your bedroom or bathroom are good choices – and make it your sanctuary. Think about how you can eliminate disturbances – remove clutter, make it a gadget-free space and include décor elements that help you feel calm.

Zen principles allude to the importance of nurturing your soul rather than materialism. These seven ideas each tie in with nourishing a vital part of your soul and bringing balance and harmony to it.

Manifesting peace might be easier than you think and even a few small changes can make a world of difference.

Which one will you start with?


Business Tips & How To's, Design Strategy

Step – 1: Identify The Problem

To have an anchor to the process you need to begin with identifying the problem and defining it well. Often problems exist and are entangled in a larger web of co-dependent issues that need resolving also, for the problem to be resolved. When a problem statement is well defined, the rest falls into place.

Imagine a tangled ball of yarn. Step one is about loosening all the knots and tangles and straightening out the fibre to see it clearly from beginning to end.

Step – 2: Use Both Sides of Your Brain

Design thinking is about using both sides of the brain – logical and creative, simultaneously.

It is also about being able to critically observe one’s own process and consciously switch from a rational and structured way of thinking to an emotive and intuitive approach as and when required.

Step – 3: Keep The Big Picture In Mind

While distinguishing all parts of the problem and attacking them individually is the key, it is also important to zoom out every now and then to look at the general overarching problem and to make sure that the bigger picture is not being lost.

Step – 4: Be Ready To Adapt

In a tight time-resource equation, things don’t often work out as expected. This is when being level headed and adaptable – in order to find the most feasible solution – becomes a design thinker’s most valuable quality.  Stay hungry for a solution and you will find it.

In a nutshell, this is what the overall process of solving a problem using design thinking looks like:


Space Design

Architecture is unusual among the arts in that it is required to be professional, and arguably alone among the professions in that it is expected to be in some measure artistic. The careers of all serious architects must at some point grapple with this duality.
To completely abandon the creative spirit is to become simply a builder – performing a valuable service, no doubt, but not creating architecture. On the other hand, when the creative architect renounces the demands of the profession – that the building be on time, on budget, keep the rain out and not fall down – that architect gives up all opportunity to actually practice the art they seek to pursue. So some sort of balance or synthesis between the two poles is necessary; the exact nature of that process can give us a deep insight into the path chosen by a given architect.


For me, the equation has become quite interesting. Certainly my practice must and does fulfil all the professional demands outlined above; but it is the art beyond the skill that continues to draw me further in each project. While my work has stylistically been compared to architects that practice elegant and graceful modernism, such as Mies van der Rohe, Tadao Ando and SANAA, I see myself more in alignment with Le Corbusier. This is not merely because I integrate Corbusier’s “Modulor” proportional system, or even because of my past employment under B.V. Doshi, himself a product of Corbusier’s office and one of the finest modern architects in India, but rather because I see myself in alignment with his way of working – that of balancing the art and the skill. Le Corbusier famously divided his working day in half: in the afternoon, he did architecture, and in the morning, he would paint. While I do not keep to so strict a regimen, I do remain an active painter. This practice helps nurture the creative aspect of my professional skill and I feel that the development of a painter’s instincts gets reflected in my work.


The word painterly, in architectural discourse, typically follows from Heinrich Wölfflin’s use, which refers to a swirling Baroque sensibility, in which form is suggested through light and shade rather than through drawn outlines.
But here we are interested, again, not in the content of the work but in the way in which it is produced. The painter is faced with a blank canvas, and then with a single stroke of the brush makes an intervention that transforms the empty field: suddenly there are up and down, inside and out, light and dark. With a second stroke, we now have the field plus two figures in dialogue with each other, and so on.
The painter must proceed from instincts but also evaluate the canvas as it takes shape; know when the elements are correctly balanced (or provocatively imbalanced), and perhaps most importantly, know when to step away and declare the work finished.

Dominic Dubé
Principal, Space


Design Strategy

I was sitting in my garden the other day and reflecting on Zeitgeist’s journey as a design house. In effect, we have been agile, design thinking and lean from the very beginning without knowing it or being certified for it back then.

Milestone 1: Designing Spaces that Enhance Human Experiences

The journey began with space design and the desperate desire to inculcate an Indian benchmark to global living standards.
This came from my years growing up abroad and knowing the difference in how I felt in a well designed space versus one that had little or no expression. A space that had intention had the ability to change my mood and mindset. And as we gravitated to applied learning, life pushed us in the direction of designing spaces to bring the best mood out of the human experience. We began to recognise the value in that feeling and held on to it. We had intention. As we moved toward authenticity it became easier to identify the disconnect in an experience – a story half told.

A space that had intention had the ability to change my mood and mindset…As we moved toward authenticity it became easier to identify the disconnect in an experience – a story half told.

Milestone 2: Infusing Personality through Brand Development

It became evidently clear to me that messages were being interrupted and lost when we didn’t put the receiver first and weave language for a complete understanding. The ability to tell that story became the need of the hour. It didn’t make sense to design the environment without understanding how the personality wove through it. We needed to be more than just one of the best interior designers Bangalore had to offer. And so we began to build the other half that was missing. This was not part of the plan. Just a gut instinct and a chance we took. So we tested. Staying light, we brought in the talent for identity design and very soon began to align on projects from multiple perspectives.

Milestone 3: Using Design Thinking to add Value and Impact

When I looked at the plate it still only seemed half full. How could we integrate these services and create an offering that actually meant something in the long run? I wanted more out of the design process. And as I began to search, my search found me. Design Thinking became the framework I gravitated toward. It had the beginnings of a structure that resonated with me. It put people first. Leaning into this kind of thinking aligned with my sense of purpose and growth.

I was excited to put these frameworks into our processes at Zeitgeist.

What would happen if we integrated this kind of thinking into our lean start-up. How much value could we offer? What new ideologies would come out of it? How could we offer strategic design consultancy that added value and impact?

Design thinking….resonated with me…..It put people first.

And so we began to recreate our internal structure around better belief systems, deeper meaning, and higher purpose.
Alignment toward this way of thinking is the naturally progressive way and we fit right in. It amazed me to think how far we had come.

With a gentle smile it struck me that everything happens by design.

Madhuri Rao
Founder & Chief
Design Strategy