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Spotlight: Tarik Currimbhoy

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Tarik CurrimbhoyTarik Currimbhoy
in his studio.
Click to enlarge photograph
Tarik Currimbhoy (ISP 76-79) has  Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute and Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Pratt Institute.  He has been practicing for 30 years as a free lance architect and artist in New York and Mumbai.

I am one of three children of a nuclear family having grown up in Bombay, India. My father, Asif Currimbhoy, worked for Burmah Shell Corporation by day and was a playwright by night. My brother and I went to a boarding school in Rajkot, India. Upon completing school, my aunt, a doctor in New York, generously invited me to New York to pursue higher studies in whatever field I chose. I thought of studying art and dreamt that I would one day be a painter. With that in mind I applied to the Pratt Institute. 

At art school I found that my interests were in the three dimensional. So I decided to pursue a fine arts degree in Industrial Design and in my second year received an Aga Khan Foundation scholarship to pursue my education at Pratt Institute. There I met Rowena Reed Kostello, my space analysis teacher, who taught me how to sense form and feel space. She was a great influence on me. One of the pioneers of American Modernism, she taught me to understand the purity of form and space. This was the beginning of my interest in the field I love and that has spanned my 30-year career. 

This education enabled me to understand sculpture and its place in design. I loved the way the needle of the compass moved or the way the hands of a clock ticked. I enjoyed dissecting them out of curiosity, but unfortunately was not always able to put the parts back together.

I completed my Bachelor in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in 1978, after which I went to Cornell University and obtained an MA degree in 1982. I  worked for a couple of years freelancing as an illustrator and as a designer but found that my interests were in larger spaces and structures.  I decided to pursue a degree in architecture and got an MArch from Pratt Institute. I also attended the Islamic Architecture seminars at Harvard/MIT in the summers of 1981 and 1982.  It was there that I was exposed to the mud architecture of Sana, Yemen, whose purity of material and form I loved.

I started my professional career at Cornell University drawing for the local newspaper and did my first land sculpture with a grant from the New York State Endowment for the Arts. 

Since the 1980’s I have lived in New York City, at first freelancing as an interior designer, architect and teacher.  My early projects were small and I occasionally worked on projects in India.  My interest in the distillation of Indian craft into a modern New York design vocabulary got me to start a sister company called Sanastone, which I named after my daughter Sana. 

Today I run two small firms from two cities, New York and Mumbai, designing an array of projects ranging from high rise buildings in the city of Mumbai to a mosque and community center in Harlem, sculpting forms for a sculpture park in New York and designing interiors for multinational corporations. 

I believe architecture to be an art form and attempt to create spaces that are timeless. I want my spaces to be tranquil, simple and tactile, expressed with a purity of form and material.  In this belief I hope to pursue my career.

To younger people interested in art and architecture, I would encourage them to develop their innate sense of intuition, to be able to see, touch and feel the world around them.

Then develop a sense of design integrity to be able to differentiate between 'good design' and 'bad design'.  Finally, to embark on a career of discovery and creation, understanding that they are responsible for making the world a beautiful place both for themselves and for future generations.

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