With changing technology, the way we design has changed
Ashok Kularia, Managing Director at ANJ Group tells Realty+ about the evolving design industry.
How has the design market changed in the last 35 years, do you’ll feel the current situation is better?
Design has evolved a lot in the last 35 years. Earlier, it was more about functionality and less about look, feel, aesthetics and experience. The focus was more on a long term durability of the offices. Now with lease terms ranging between 5-9 years, the focus and approach has changed. Older conventional offices used more of fixed materials such as marbles / granite for flooring which were durable and long term sustainable compared to carpets today which add to the aesthetics and agility of the workspace. More wood was used earlier compared to now where you have a plethora of materials available. Secondly, with changing technology, the way we design has changed, earlier everything was 2D on blue print papers, now with 3D views and VR and 360 degree views it’s a totally changed approach to the way design is seen.
Journey of ANJ & your role as Managing Director.
We have gradually grown over the last 35 years. My father started one of Indias first furniture factories in early 2000 with imported German machinery and we continue to grow and today we can boast of having one of the largest factories in our industry. We have grown from a pure civil interior contracting company to a full-fledged Design and Build organisation. We have grown from one city presence to 7 cities in India and a state-of-the-art design studio in Hong Kong. I oversee project execution at ANJ. Ensuring timely delivery with the highest standards of quality and safety to my clients is my number 1 priority. My team sees me more as a colleague and friend rather than the boss. I also look at myself in a way as a worker for the company. That’s the work culture we follow at ANJ Group. Everyone’s a worker yet a boss at the company. I’m generally working around the clock. But I don’t feel like I’m working. I’m just living my passion and my dream. So I enjoy and look forward to all the time I spend around work.
What is the company’s future expansion plans? Any international ventures?
We are growing at good 25-30% every year for the last 4-5 years and we shall continue to sustain the growth. We are moving into one of Indias largest furniture factory by end of this year which will double our production. India itself is a very large market for the CRE industry and we intend to further consolidate and strengthen our position pan India. Our design Studio in HK has been a great success and we’ve been a part of a mix of some marvellous projects across the commercial, retail and architectural space.
What are the emerging trends in this sector?
Design and build is a strong trend that will continue to grow in India. It offers an end to end accountability and solution to a client. This helps client reduce the time taken for execution. There is huge opportunity in the years to come in the D&B space and we wish to position ourselves on top-of- clients mind in that space by continuing to bring innovative ground breaking concepts and design intents into tangible existence for our clients. We look at not only growing in India but also globally and expand our footprint. We’ve been fortunate to have worked with the best of hospitality & corporate clients across sectors and the future promises ample opportunity across verticals for our services.
Which is one project that sets you’ll apart from the competition in India?
All projects we partner in at ANJ is like our baby and they are all extremely dear to us. More than setting us apart from competition, our endeavor is to improve ourselves from the last project executed. So in that sense, we are always competing with ourselves for continuous improvement. The kind of technology, methodologies, equipments, etc that we utilize, the safety standards and protocols, our artisan wellbeing programmes are setting benchmarks within our industry and we are glad to be raising the expectations of our clients and delivering value to them.
Do you think that real office space of the future is “agile”?
Agile is a small part of the real office space. Yes offices will continue to be agile keeping in mind the growing influence of the millennials and changing trends of the way we look at work. Working from home or a café is no longer new. The way we work has changed – today the focus is more on quality of work than quantity so flexible workplace trends will continue to dominate in the coming decade.
How do you maintain the work environment to ensure maximum productivity and employee satisfaction?
For us at ANJ we are trying to lead by example when it comes to employee engagement. We emphasize a lot on maintaining work life balance and have support of an excellent HR team who works round the clock to understand and help our employees achieve this balance. We believe a lot in team work. For us that’s the key mantra to succeed. So when the team works on a project the result is generally good – this gives motivation to everyone. When u work as a team work gets distributed and you don’t feel the pressure – this has really helped us increase our productivity. Also, the work culture and spirit at ANJ has most recently certified us as a “Great Place to Work’ and that’s a testimony to how the workforce at ANJ feels and we couldn’t be more proud.
Do you think office spaces designed to de-stress can bring joy to the workplace?
I totally agree to this. We spend almost about 75% of our actual usable time of the day in office. A well designed office can hence really make a huge difference to the way people work. At our own office in Mumbai we have created a spaces that engages our employees and make them empowered. The flexible choice of places and biophilia to gym – it made a huge difference to the employee productivity since moving to our new space.
Could you elaborate on the concept – ‘The Next Wave’?
The entire eco-system around our industry has been continuously evolving. Be it Design, the technology that drives it, the way people are working, nature and resources around us or be it traditional age old mentalities. With the growing demand in India and some of the biggest global conglomerates establishing their strong presence here, the entire corporate real estate fit out industry is at the cusp of a huge change. That is “The Next Wave” that is upon us. And at ANJ, we have foreseen and are riding that change with thought leadership, innovative and cutting age technology, our work and people culture, commitment to transparency, our initiatives towards sustainable growth as well as the best of talent with in depth technical knowhow on the ever evolving global trends and standards.
ANJ’s contribution towards environment and sustainability.
Apart from the usual use of Green materials, having a separate manufacturing area for Green Compliant production and other simple measures of conserving water and power, ANJ also firmly believes in sustaining the next generation of idea bearers by continuous initiatives and engagements of distribution of school bags, books, etc to students in Municipal schools. The team has led several beach cleaning drives and planting of saplings in our vicinity. We firmly believe that it is the nature that sustains us and it is our duty to sustain it.
What is your vision for the company in the next 5 years?
Our vision is to revolutionize the corporate interior fit-out industry and be not just market leaders, but thought leaders. And we have already started yesterday. We intend to bring India up to speed with the technology and domain knowledge that are making headway globally. We wish to introduce India to how work cultures and the way people work globally is changing. We propose sustainability & wellness be the core philosophy around which we design and build. We resolve to working towards utmost transparency and value delivery towards our clients and help them benefit from our workplace strategy experience in building the best of workspaces for them in the years to come.