Avant Garde
Voyage of Design

By: K.G. SREENIVAS             Dated: February 01, 2014

The First Ferry of Dubai is a distinct design and architectural house that seeks to go beyond dogma, transcend norms, and arrive at “a new and profound design experience”, says its ‘Skipper’ Prateek Chaudhary. “The mundane, the standard and typical have no place in our design culture,” says Chaudhary, in an interview with Creative Brands.

Creative Brands: Why and how did you come up with “The First Ferry”?

Prateek Chaudhry: The first thought before you awake, the subliminal spark of an idea that brews in the mind — that is the purest form of an idea. Undiluted, purely contextual, unbound by dogma — that is the beacon for The First Ferry. Mirror-still waters leading to unchartered territories under a cool crisp breeze that is refreshing and revitalizing; guided simply by years of experience in the creation of award winning designs — this is your voyage on The First Ferry. The voyage is entirely about mindset. We nurture a culture of ideas. We will bend, shift, dive deep, and soar high to conceive moving creations. We will become the vehicle that will connect your imagination to your reality. We are about simplifying and making things possible. We are the maiden voyage, taking the risks and going the extra mile. Yet, our vision is clear; our destination is assured; and the results are guaranteed. We will arrive at a new and profound design experience.

CB: Your catchwords — ‘Thought. Design. Rectitude’ — are almost talismanic. How would you describe your creative vision?

PC: The vein of rectitude is the life blood that sustains The First Ferry. It is a religious commitment to being honourable, just and transparent in every aspect and situation of the project lifecycle. We do not take pride in this. It simply is - a fact, a law, a given, a guiding principle that binds integrity to the way we think, speak, aspire and carry on our business, for the benefit and good of everyone whose lives The First Ferry may come into contact with. 

Rectitude in design and space gives light to our commitment to quality and exact craftsmanship of our trade. Rectitude presents a dichotomy that The First Ferry must religiously address for each project. By seeking out correct solutions, we must conform to and provide the correct standards of space relationships.

We must adhere to time tested norms of design and construction that will ensure safety and uphold the quality of life that we so fervently wish to enhance. By simply adhering to these standards however, we cannot achieve good design. Rectitude, on the other hand, dictates that we must transcend norms; we must challenge dogma, go beyond ourselves and create by context rather than by rules. 

The idea of infusing art into lifestyle requires us to go beyond fads and trends, it begs us to face our fears, establish our desires and create an advocacy. It dares us to be child-like and challenges us to be happy. It requires us to be timeless and provide an environment that promotes positive thoughts in order to achieve the highest good. 

Thought is the root of all ideas. It is the birthplace of evolution. We envision ourselves as a hub for fresh and innovative ideas, brought about by an innate culture of creative thought. Design is the tool at our disposal, to manifest these ideas. 

Design is both our product and our blank canvas. Rectitude is the result of the former two combined. It is the positive outcome of years of experience in the industry, combined with ingenuity and infused with a rich flavour of art and passion.  It is providing the correct platform where people can experience richer lives. Thus, creative, thoughtful ingenuity and rectitude are the hallmarks of The First Ferry design.

CB: “One of the tenets of The First Ferry is to create unique interior designs that compliment personalities, lifestyles and beliefs — creating and building reflections of value systems through metaphoric geometric presentations...” you say. Could you elaborate?

PC: We recognise that each client has acquired a unique set of value beliefs that have been brought about by his life experiences. The First Ferry creates a bond and relationship with the client and we become the partner and collaborator who will translate his wishes into geometric forms. We advocate that the client’s personality manifest in the design and not that of The First Ferry. We are able to achieve this by involving the client in every step of the design, creative and construction process; recognising that equally as important as the finished design is the process by which we get there. At the conclusion of the project, the client will have an epic narration of the journey of how it became. Our job simply will be to become the geometrical interpreters for the emotions and beliefs that the client wishes to experience. He marks the destination and we chart the course that leads him there.

CB: What are the fundamental axioms of your aesthetics when you approach design?

PC: Experience. If the idea, process, and outcome will not solicit an experience, then it is not worth doing. This is the fundamental design principle found in every The First Ferry project. We will design into the most micro levels of details to provide the exact quality and experience we are trying to achieve. Our design success has direct correlation to the experiences the livable spaces will offer, and how they enhance and interact with lifestyles. We will not cut corners, we don’t recycle ideas and we won’t compromise on details in order to deliver the result we have set our sights on. The mundane, the standard, and typical have no place in our design culture. 

CB: How do you evaluate/understand a client's brief? Additionally, how do you modify/revisit your client's vision?

PC: Working under the premise that no two clients are ever going to be alike, means that no design brief can ever be the same, even for similar projects. This is the fundamental mindset we bring into each project. Our primary concern then deviates from simply listing down client wishes. Instead we will endeavour to establish a relationship where the client will become at ease to speak freely about the things that move him; about the things that make him passionate, and the things that will imbue his living spaces with happiness. By listening into the deeper nuances of the way he speaks, how he acts, and how he sees himself in future, we can derive a concept that will help him get from where he presently is to where he wishes to be. 

The job of metaphorically translating these emotions into geometric forms becomes second nature when these fundamental client traits are established. In short, we assimilate our artistic and creative values into his strongest and highest personal traits.

The First Ferry is a story teller. Our design process involves immersing the client into the holistic design process. There is as much a story in the process as there will be in the finished project. The process from design to construction to furniture selection, until handover, is a deliberate and orchestrated undertaking. There is nothing left to chance. The methods, techniques, and people involved in fabrication are at the heart of both design and the experience. Indeed after the project is done, our clients often claim to have become designers themselves, having become involved, educated, motivated and programmed with good thoughts that direct progress to the desired outcome.

CB: What have been your most challenging and demanding projects thus far? You referred to the Bates office…

PC: The First Ferry is in her elements with each challenging situation. In fact, we are better motivated when we are presented with bigger challenges. So, we do not see challenges as hindrances; rather we view them as opportunities for growth.  Moreover, we are humbled by the fact that our clients have the confidence in us to allow us to become instrumental in the realisation of their projects, such that we find solutions, but significantly go beyond that. Providing good design is an un-quantifiable value-added service, which provides better quality of life, better interaction of the users to the built environment and optimises the client investment in terms of property market values.

The Bates experience was a huge opportunity for growth. Almost 11,000 sq ft. Demolish and rebuild. Complete turnkey solution. With a full month of Ramadan in between…and a deadline to deliver on. The project involved new and aggressive applications of different materials such as stainless steel, glass tiles and fabrics. There are unwritten laws in the use of materials, which must be given due respect when applied to different situations. By being aware of these, we become free to use materials as our design palette and we are able to bring out the optimum benefits of each material. Delivered. And appreciated.

CB: “His geometrical forms will be common, but the creativity with how it would have been done... will be the highlight of the design,” you say. How do you apply a common set of geometrical forms to projects that demand different sets of aesthetic parameters?   

PC: The geometry of form is defined by shapes and lines. These are the building blocks to any design. That coupled with an ingenious ability to add, subtract and compose different materials in complex and different configurations and juxtapositions, help create a fresh and unique environment. There are thousands of details to address which could highlight an otherwise “common” composition. Such things as lighting, fabrics, textures, balance and craftsmanship and context, all play into the overall design. The significance of the composition becomes even greater when these lines and shapes bear reference to the client and his life experiences as discussed earlier.

CB: What are your India plans and strategic regional objectives with respect to South East Asia in particular? You spoke about your India entry through Bollywood...

PC: A lucrative market with very high media exposure which tends to attract greater new business per project delivery ratio — that’s Bollywood in a nutshell. It’s a dream market. An established presence in Dubai, India and London means The First Ferry has successful penetration into these markets. The existing portfolio is strong and the growing client base in both Dubai and UK has proved The First Ferry can hold its own against local and foreign competition. The practice will naturally grow into other markets as we respond to global demands. We are expecting to establish our presence in US, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Denmark, over the next 12 months. The niche market of holistic lifestyle design — the integration of materials and interior design with fashion and furniture designs, as well as art, sculpture, photography, lighting design, events and image consultancy is a new market that The First Ferry is fast venturing into. The natural tendency is to attract upscale clientele in the high-profile industry of Bollywood, businessmen and senior executives is assured.


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