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Interview of Zayd Bilgrami and Sarah Najmi Bilgrami with S.Abdulla home

How did your company come about?
Our fathers had their architectural firms already established and the fact that Sarah’s brother Ahsan and I went to the same architectural school, the Rhode Island School of Design. Having similar backgrounds, all three sharing the same ideology in design, it was almost natural in our coming together and establishing Najmi Bilgrami Collaborative (Pvt) Limited in 2006.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Consciously, or unconsciously, we inherited a love for design and architecture from our fathers. It’s funny how most of the best projects that Zayd and Ahsan have done in NBCL are actually done under each other’s father rather than the other way around.

What has your experience been?
We love working as a team and are thrilled by everything we do regardless of size or scale. We are working towards launching a furniture brand. Its fun. Working on varying scales is the most intriguing part of our job, one day we can be working on a building and then working on a chair or an ashtray the next.

What is your Company’s philosophy?
We are very experimental and love to think outside the box. We even encourage our team to think of an idea first without being handicapped by trend, culture or material or by-law, we love to dream and push our and our team’s imagination. Practicality is not to be disregarded, it comes in the execution phase, but when we don’t want to hamper a thought process immediately , we like to think freely. And even though each of us has taken a different division, ours is still a very studio environment, so most of our projects are team projects.

What is your favorite project?
Favorite projects are hard to pin down as we are happy with most of our designs, however our favorite to date would have to be the China Pavilion, which was designed for TDAP, won a year-long competition and was to be built in Shanghai for the China Expo 2010, however due to the political change, our project got shelved. Aside from that our new office building and a bunch of new concepts for emerging projects have all got us very excited in seeing them materialize.

What makes it so special?
The  pavilion is a dream, it showed the culture, the potential and the ideals of Pakistan in a modern, artistic and contemporary way. The architecture, the orchestration of an individual walking through, all had been delicately choreographed to tell a story. One day, hopefully, it will be built and the story be told!

Can you recall a memorable moment from your professional life?
I think the day we moved into our new office; it was definitely a milestone for us, and i think that day was one of our most memorable moments as we had all dreamed of having our self-designed building and interior which truly represented us.

What, in your opinion, makes a great design?
Purity, belief, and the ability to convey a thought… just like a piece of art.

What factors should one consider before buying building material for one’s home or office ?
Purpose quality, durability and knowledge of its use, nowadays we should go a step further by also looking at sustainability and ecological implications.

Do you have any tips for people planning to build a home or office?
Come to us (laughs) …. No, on a serious note, go to the right architect. Most architects have signature styles and if you do a little bit of homework you can actually choose to come to an architect whose wavelength matches yours. Second would be a clear understanding of what you want. Try to be as clear as possible. And thirdly, be open to ideas because you have hired a professional and he or she can actually add value to your project.

What’s your favorite home store?
Locally we can say I like S Abdulla Home, Interwood.

If it’s S Abdulla Home, then why?
It’s a store designed to enable a user to choose ! Product display and accessibility speak for themselves. The products of course also speak for themselves, so quality and variety need no introduction, S Abdulla Home has taken on a very unique branding approach, moving more towards a cause rather than a product which is also commendable!

What are your upcoming projects that we should look forward to?
We are working on a museum that we are looking forward to complete. We are working in a series of buildings for IBA, of which is a prayer hall, is one of the buildings which we are anxious to see completed as well as the Student Center.
In interiors, we are designing the new Hotel Margala, both the architecture and interior so that’s one more. Sarah is very close to launching our furniture showroom Yoc’a, which is something we are also looking forward to.

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