With absolutely no lineage in the field and labelled as an ‘over-ambitious young lad’, Yatin Patel started his practice Yatin Patel & Associates in Mumbai three decades ago (1989). An “archipreneur” as he likes to call himself, he began with aspirations that were sky-high; after, all he believes it takes a dream to build a dream. For this architecture graduate from Manipal University, that meant working tirelessly, even putting in 48-72 hours shifts, to turn around a project. It paid off because those initial retail projects won him more business purely from word-of-mouth — including one by a multinational corporation.
If the growing scale and projects weren’t enough to strengthen his drive, he also found himself in the middle of the software boom, which he credits played a major part in the success of his design practice — re-christened to DSP Design after partnering with Bimal Desai and Mehul Shah. “The key learnings from the initial projects were that executing a noted brief is exactly ‘not’ the job of an architect or designer. The curiosity and willingness to explore the true potential of the space is what puts you ahead,” shares Patel, who is definitely charging ahead with multi-disciplinary studios across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Gurgaon and Hyderabad with projects accomplished in over 40 cities.
As the practice aims to achieve a global foothold, Patel sees them as change-makers creating designs that will impact the way people live, work and inhabit spaces. “While bespoke, agile, sustainable are serious enablers of our design strategy; ‘wellness’ is what sets our designs apart,” he adds.
The emphasis on being a research-intensive design practice, thus, becomes clear. “All our design decisions are informed by data. We have a well-established core group within the organisation − The Design Cell, which dedicatedly data mines design trends globally and how that can translate into delivering real value to the inhabitants of the spaces we design, making ourselves more useful as architects to our clients.”
Along the same lines, he wants to urge architects to not “fall prey to initial ideas, as it is believed that they tend to be the best ones.” Many a time, the design research methodology doesn’t reach its full potential due to various factors — be it the lack of understanding of the brief, or the context, or the understanding of applicable building bye-laws, or sometimes the paucity of time given to the design evolution process.
“Often, architects leave the interpretation of the bye-laws to the liaison consultants, especially in cities like Mumbai, where it takes a lot of perseverance and in-depth study of historical and current bye-laws to evolve an apt design solution,” Patel states, adding that it helps to have a desire to challenge the unchallenged.

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