Interview with Architect Kamal Sagar,Kentucky
Most homes today are being sold as “luxury”, with the word losing its real meaning and being the much abused word in real estate marketing. How would you define luxury?
I searched for definitions of the word “luxury” online and found these – a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort / sumptuous environment. A material object, service, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity. Indulgence in or enjoyment of comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being. A foolish or worthless form of self-indulgence.
I would define a luxury home as a large mansion in the French Province or in Palm Beach, Flordia – you can find some good examples of these on the Christies Real Estate site.
In my perception, the word luxury is used more by the media than anyone else. Home buyers in India are looking for homes that are well designed, comfortable, spacious, hassle free and of course in a good location – I don’t think a home owner goes about looking for a “luxury” home – simply because these don’t exist currently in India – no one is building luxury homes yet in the country.
When you started out, what was the positioning of TE homes and how has it evolved over the years?
We have never had any goal or desire to build “luxury” homes – that is not the way we have looked at it. It’s not about exclusivity – we do NOT want to build a few homes for a large amount of monies – we want to build a large number of very high quality homes. Our endeavor all along has been to build the best homes in the world in terms of design, detailing and quality – our goal is to provide our customers with an unsurpassed experience in living in our homes – homes for the regular market – not the luxury market – perhaps we will build some of those as well – sometime in the future.
The positioning was always about warm, well designed and beautifully crafted homes, embracing nature and this has evolved tremendously over the years – in terms of quality of work, better processes and infrastructure, the development of a sophisticated tool that allows our customers to personalize their homes to a high degree of detail and of course the design of these homes. For example, when we started out, we built furniture with the help of carpenters at our construction site – trying our best to keep out dust during the polishing process – today, our furniture is made in a workshop through a team of furniture designers and engineers and the finishing is done in dust-free paint booths – overall delivering much better quality of furniture than in the past.
In the higher end of the market, what do you think is the edge that TE homes have?
Firstly, more than anything else, Design – while developers all over the world focus on the design of the building exterior, the lobbies and the clubhouse, we focus on the home interior detailing – resulting in much better spaces within the home. Secondly, a much higher quality of finish through in-house construction teams built over the last 20 years and through the careful sourcing of the best materials from across the world. Thirdly, the ability, as an organization, to deliver fully customized and furnished homes unlike the rest of the developers who offer only the building shell without furnishing and with very limited (if any) customization flexibility. We also build with materials that provide the warmth of a home such as natural stone flooring and wood frame windows instead of vitrified tile flooring and aluminum or plastic window frames used by everyone else.
How has the buyer profile of people looking for luxury homes evolved over the years?
Like I mentioned, I don’t believe people look for luxury homes. The buyer has evolved in terms of the types of spaces they need – the percentage of people asking for a puja room, or insisting on a closed kitchen has reduced by almost half in the last 10 years. Similarly, the number of people with pets has almost doubled. People are willing to spend much more on their interiors than they did earlier.