In 2006, two brothers — one an architect, the other an industrial designer — set out on a figurative journey, imagining their studio while packed into a bus, driving through the countryside, drawing and sketching, parking in the most beautiful locations. “This was our original bus ride,” smiles architect Zameer Basrai, who along with his older sibling Ayaz, run The Busride, one of the ‘coolest’ design firms in the country today. Beginning with their first milestone project — restaurateur Riyaz Amlani’s Smoke House Grill — they’ve delivered space after space of offbeat, eccentric, quirky and hard-to-forget hospitality projects: Caperberry, Café Zoe, Jam Jar, Pizza Express at Colaba, The Daily, Saltwater Cafe, The Bombay Canteen, Smoke House Deli (Mumbai and Delhi), The Grid. “We were introduced to hospitality projects from the beginning. The hospitality space teaches you that if it’s not fun to design and not fun to make, its probably not going to be fun for the user,” says Zameer in his characteristically candid and humorous manner.
After putting a solid ten years in hospitality, with a smattering of offices and homes for friends along the way, the duo have been designing and building a much larger range of projects for the last two years — homes, housing, retail stores, malls, cultural institutions, offices… “…and that has been very rewarding,” says the MIT alumnus. “We’re actually actively trying to bring the learnings of the last ten years into projects of a very different nature.” A case in point is the Folly House, lauded for its unique approach to residential design, where the programme was largely crystallised into multi-functional, mobile objects with the remaining untouched space being ‘activated’ on the use of these objects. Zameer describes their work so far as “easy.” The latest development on their timeline is the Busride Lab in Goa, which allows them mental and physical room to do committed research into other aspects of design — something which was not possible while operating solely out of Mumbai. The plan is to run both the Busrides in parallel with different timelines and different project mixes. “We’ve remained committed to having fun. We’ve gradually developed a disrespect and deep suspicion for consistency in aesthetic language. Making mistakes is the best part. Just don’t let anyone find out!”

Looking Back

The Folly House has been pivotal as they’ve been able to develop a conceptual approach to home making. It felt like a bunch of disparate experiments, learnings, diagrams, and material details fell into place in this project. It also set the bar very high for other residential projects that The Busride has undertaken since.

Looking forward

The Basrai brothers are “grappling with a bunch of projects,” which makes it difficult for them to choose one particular assignment. But the brick village at Malshej Ghat would be “somewhere at the top.” The project involves…a very complex experience using curved walls of different heights that mediate the street and room experience.


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