Monday, 22 March 2010

Wellness turns over a new leaf

On Sunday, March 21, 2010, Kochi woke up to two exiting pieces of news.  As the newest entrant to the IPL bandwagon. And as home to the newest and most comprehensive wellness experience that Kerala has ever seen.

Ela – The World Spa was officially inaugurated yesterday by Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Shashi Tharoor.

Air Travel Enterprises, better known as the ATE Group, is one of Kerala’s most reputed and well established companies to have redefined travel and hospitality to create a total services sector.

The company saw an opportunity in setting up a world class spa and salon, offering the best wellness experience possible. The location was Kochi – the melting pot of cultures and home to travelers of yore, from far and wide. The Greeks, Romans, Jews, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British – they’ve all come here at some point and left a distinct mark on the Kochi we know today. Today, the city is home to an amalgamation of the five senses. And brings with it wellness forms from across the world. From Europe to the Far East; India and the Middle East.

Ela brings alive the magical lightness of being. As if we could trade places with the fresh green leaf that flirts with the breeze, embraces sunlight, drenches itself in rain and plays with dew. A complete experience of the five senses, that transforms you into a lighter, fresher, more relaxed individual.  An island of tranquility in the hustle bustle of a mall.  Ela offers world spa experiences from Sweden to Thailand and Bali along with Ayurveda and Hammam. To complete the experience is a salon, gym, café and retail, all housed within a 4000 sq.ft. space on the fourth floor of Oberon Mall, Kochi.

Walk into Ela and you are instantly taken over by the freshness of nature. A water screen welcomes you. Explore the fluid pathway that leads you in, from the salon to the Hamman to the gym. The café overlooks the city of Kochi, while the Ayurveda and World therapy rooms transport you into another world of calm.

Ela has seen an encouraging response from visitors to the mall, since its soft launch in January 2010. The Group hopes to take this further to truly create a world class spa experience for Kochi, and other city that would follow.

Posted by Sumeet

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Frank Gehry - Trendsetter, Visionary, Innovator and Legendary Architect

Frank Gehry on the popular TV show, the Simpsons

Are we going out of a job?

> For the 'some' of us who get flustered with scheduling design, drawing specs, doling out rigid "dos & don't s" & hate it - this may sound temptingly sweet!
> And the 'others' of us who seek to eliminate chaos, standardize, specify & bring in that much-needed order - an antitheses on our very fiber! A death knell to us 'determinists'!

2002 - Case Western reserve University found themselves drawn to architect Frank Gehry's controversial but widely acclaimed style, hired him, approved his design and brought in a small army of contractors to build it. The contractors duly admired, in a shocked & fretful way, the model of the God-awfully complex structure they were about to undertake, and then asked for the blueprints, to which Gehry's team replied that there weren't any. The contractors thought the group was joking, but Gehry & his associates were serious. But constructing a building without blueprints, the stunned contractors might well have sputtered, would be like putting together a television set from scratch without a wiring diagram.

Gehry's vision was....

To capture the building's intended emotional content, everyone working on the building should keep creating throughout the construction process. Withholding blueprints is a way of making sure that happens. Foregoing a detailed plan is disruptive - it creates convolution, making a neat & well-defined process messy. Every time I've given my brief to the contractors, I've had to specify every little thing...miss the slightest & I've gotten an unholy mess on my hands, crippling delays, me calling the contractor a f**%#@  moron & him calling me some equivalent choice expression. The outcome hit me like a ton of bricks....

Not only was the finished building a stunning hit, completed on time & within budget,

My first impulse was - hah! Yeah well if your project has infinite funding and all the worlds time! But sorry, not for me... I've got deadlines, cost constraints...

Then I finished the sentence...

...but most of the contractors were so pleased with the invention into which they had pushed that they ended up changing the way they do business. 
....No way! Get outta here..... 

....but is that possible? (especially when you aren't Gehry)

Did Gehry succeed because he had brainy contractors? Please find me one... for sure, we are unanimous on this one. Worse, can I trust my contractor to innovate; find a solution so far from his way of working? The answer was right there on the same page...

Freed from the constraints of a blueprint's rigid specifications & standard operating procedures, the contractors & architects were able to collaboratively rethink the design & construction techniques in a way necessary to achieve the project's goals. That led to an eruption of innovation.

Somewhere between extremes of rigid spec docs + schedules of columns, footings, steel members, rebars, concrete mix, etc, etc .....and...... a squiggle & a sketch showing a germ of an idea where we have no clue  how to build it........lies a sweet-spot which is all-inclusive, very gratifying & "happy design". Or so I gather......

I don’t think I have found it as yet . When we are striving to achieve standardization & conformity in our work (please, I'm not a control freak), going by 'Gehry's vision' would mean we might as well mothball our drafters....scary!!

  Some of Gehry's Work 

PS - Text in blue - "A Perfect Mess" - Eric Abrahamson & David H Freedman,
        Text in black - my take on things.

Posted by Kiran

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Idiom-izing New York

Sonia, Girish and Jacob's visit to Parsons, the New School of Design

Notes from New york

10th March : Girish + Jacob + Sonia

Presented our perspective on India/emerging market and shared Idiom's work and successes with the students, in the School of Design Strategies [at Parsons, the New School of Design]. Followed by an interesting discussion with a group of students. Graduating students are worried about whether (E design thinking), this higher level play of design is a fad or is here to stay, whether sustainability again is just a fad. There was a palpable energy and excitement that the presentation and discussion managed to evoke the sheer speed and scale at which things are happening in India was one of the things that fascinated everyone. Carlos Teixeira [Director, Academic Affairs] our amazing host had quite a schedule planned for us.

11th March : Girish + Jacob + Sonia

Morning: Carlos and his co-faculty members (faculty members, the program director, and career service) presented to us, what they do in the program of Design and Management at Parsons. What is interesting about Parsons, The New School is that its really five schools spread across a few streets and blocks. There is the School of Design Strategies, The School of Fashion, The School of Art, Media and Technology, The School of Constructed Environments and ADHT (Art, Design, History and Technology). Interestingly, the street was very close to the New School's heart in the early years, where anyone could walk off the street and attend a class. Corridors continue to be art galleries. 40% of the students are international. But even the international students come from reasonably affluent backgrounds and we still need to find ways to make emerging markets, sustainability and such real world issues sexy to them.
  We discussed however, the opportunity of internships and of using our design success stories as cases and the possibility of online interactions. Besides, we also committed to developing an exhibition for the Parsons' gallery, that brings alive both India and our work.

Afternoon: With Carlos, met Joel Towers, Dean Parsons and Mathew Caballero, Asst Dean, Parsons. It was nice to find out that one of the most respected design institutions in the world had quite a refreshing perspective and had chosen to be nimble. Joel talked about the New School being part of a global network, where there would be a lot of exchange in not very typical/formal/structured ways. We were all very excited about the possibility of collaboration.

Evening: The evening rocked! We presented in the Orozco room. This is a room reserved for very special occasions. Orozco (a Mexican mural artist painted a mural on the walls of this room, in a way that it couldn't be taken out. He wanted his work to be accessible by the public and not put away in a museum). Well, we made our work accessible to the cool junta of New York (finally!) But seriously we had an amazing crowd of academicians, practitioners and industry. Most that Carlos had invited, some whom Jacob and Sonia had called. We showed our E India movie, The Idiom presentation (by Sonia and Jacob) and then Kishoreji (Kishore Biyani), along with us, took questions. We started at 6 pm and it showed no signs of winding up, even by 9 pm and continued on to dinner. (The legendary) Bruce Nussbaum, who was there went on record to say that this was the most engaging discussion he had had on design ever. Even Mr Biyani was excited and enjoyed the discussion.  Most were fascinated by the scale and speed at which things are happening in India. Carlos was beaming (he made it possible and everyone was thanking him for inviting them). We made new friends, in the UN, in Panasonic, in Havaianas, in AIGA, in Smart Design and many more.

12th March

We (Carlos, Jacob, Girish, Sonia) had lunch with Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Dean, School of Design Strategies. He told us about the idea of laboratories/about the India-China School. It was a meeting that turned out to be more than just refreshing!!! We have a follow on meeting early next week to make a plan of action to develop on the emerging design education needs in India looks like things will happen sooner than later. 

Posted By Sonia

Friday, 12 March 2010

Celebrating the end of Recession

2010 began on a good note for many. Milestones and events have already made 2010 a memorable year. Apple launched its new product the I-pad, we witnessed the longest ever annular solar eclipse of the 3rd millennium and most importantly, the long painful economic recession that started in 2007, finally came to an end. Companies across the globe have started hiring again, people are making more money and everyone is happy that the global economy appears to be stabilizing once again

We at Idiom know that all work and no fun make jack a dull boy. We believe in keeping our employees happy. Idiom wanted to celebrate the end of the recession, so what better way to do that than to have a PARTY!!! So, on the 6th of February, We had a party to celebrate the end of a long and painful economic recession. Since we have a huge Backyard, we decided to have the party there. It was a fun Saturday evening and we partied late into the night (12 am, late, considering the 11.30 pm deadline in Bangalore). The party was called the ‘End of Recession’ party. We had Biryani, Beer and killer music. We danced, drank, ate and had a great time. The party was a great team-building activity. Everyone came and some even brought guests along. It was a great platform for people to get to know each other. The End of recession was great, the party was even better.

Great venue + People with a buzz + Booze + Biriyani + Music = Refreshed Idiom + Well begun 2010

Posted by Rahul