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UNSCRIPTED with Pinakin Patel: Decoding the life of a light-hearted hustler

This week on UNSCRIPTED, self-taught architect and furniture designer, Pinakin Patel, reflects on the importance of courage, vulnerability, and nature in his life.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Aug 20, 2021

"I am not at all nostalgic, reminiscent, or romantic…I am so much into the moment and excited about the future.”

- Pinakin Patel

Originally a chemistry graduate, Pinakin Patel believes he chose the creative life in response to a realisation where he felt he was not in alignment with his swadharma or predisposition. On UNSCRIPTED this week, the multidisciplinary design polymath, who lives in a seaside hamlet in Alibag (India) with his family, opens up about the struggles and rewards of self-education and the importance of having a mentor in life, all along revealing many interesting facts from his life.

“When you keep learning, you remain ordinary and playful because on no given day you graduated or threw your cap in the air,” shares Patel who is self-taught in the disciplines of architecture, interior design, furniture design and fashion. He goes on to say: “It is an extremely difficult thing to be self-educated, but if you are blessed or if you find your own space, then each step empowers you to take the next one. There is a continuous gradual buildup that seems to complement what you have learnt the previous week, the previous month, the previous decade…”

  • Pinakin Patel with his parents (1956)| UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Pinakin Patel with his parents (1956) Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • Pinakin Patel with his governess (1959) | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Pinakin Patel with his governess (1959) Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • School Captain parade (1969) | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    School Captain parade (1969) Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • Patel at his chemical office (1981) | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Patel at his chemical office (1981) Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • A photo of him from his travels (1987)| UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    A photo of him from his travels (1987) Image: ©Pinakin Studio

Always pushing the envelope and defying labels, Patel has been a restless learner who chose to work hard in solitude with his own definitions. His beginnings, as per him, encompassed a world that was simple, curious, and full of learning. Born in a traditional upper-class Indian family, a larger part of his childhood went about in playing outdoor games, listening to stories post dinner, and meeting creatives and intellectuals at home and absorbing their knowledge. While the family business dealt in chemicals with most male members of the house of the opinion that "petrochemicals mean the future", he confesses that it was rather a need to confirm with the narrative than an interest in the subject that led him to pursue chemical engineering. However, it was not long before he realised that if he cannot get up in the morning and go to work with a smile then living the lie won’t take him anywhere. A foot in the creative disciplines was what his heart desired, and with one new learning after the other, he surpassed his own dreams.

  • Pinakin Prive, Alibag, India | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Pinakin Prive, Alibag, India Image: Ashish Sahi
  • Pinakin Patel Studio, Alibag, India | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Pinakin Patel Studio, Alibag, India Image: Ashish Sahi
  • Villa in Pune, Pune, India | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Villa in Pune, Pune, India Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • Interiors of Delhi House, New Delhi, India | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Interiors of Delhi House, New Delhi, India Image: ©Pinakin Studio
  • Pinakin Patel Residence | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
    Pinakin Patel Residence Image: ©Pinakin Studio

A pioneer of India-Modern aesthetic, Patel launched 'Etcetera' - India’s first lifestyle and home décor store in 1984, and a year later established his own design practice, Pinakin Patel Associates. In search of a better quality of life, at the pinnacle of his career in 2000, he shifted his base to the countryside, taking his work with him. Early 2005, he launched Pinakin – a complete furniture and home interior store focused on locally crafted, artisanal products. Now with over 45 years of experience behind him (and still counting!), his design practice is thriving with projects that include villas, vacation homes, residential interiors, and bespoke furniture. His most noted projects include a museum space in Alibag dedicated to his guru, Dashrath Patel (the late Indian iconic painter and sculptor, who we get to know more closely in this episode).

Pinakin Patel with his guru Dashrath Patel (centre) and wife Dolly | UNSCRIPTED | Alibag, India | STIRworld
Pinakin Patel with his guru Dashrath Patel (centre) and wife Dolly Image: ©Pinakin Studio
Because I am self-taught, I somehow never learnt the idea of scale properly.

Settled in the lush village of Alibag, Patel calls nature his home and believes he is happiest when he is all by himself. An indulgence that he can’t seem to give up on, he tells STIR, is space. “I can live on the floor without furniture, but it has to be a large room. The room has to have a large garden; it doesn’t matter if it’s not manicured, but the land should be big,” he says laughing. He also describes the relationship he had with his mentor, Dashrath Patel, and his influence on his creative voice. “I always thought of square rooms and square buildings, rectangular shapes and 90 degrees meeting each other. My guru taught me that one needs to leave a little room for escape,” he explains.

More on UNSCRIPTED, Patel tells us about the three people he is closest to and funnily connects them with Indian food items. Tap on the cover to watch the complete episode.

Curated by Pramiti Madhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give us an undiscovered peek into their lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.  

All photographs ©Pinakin Studio. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial, or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.

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