This is a time of change for JTCPL Designs – and I’m not referring to the fact that we moved our office. That change was minor – literally just one floor up in the same building! I’m referring of course to a change in the way we approach the world of workspace design. Recently, while working on a coffee table book that captures our journey, I got a chance to do some introspection about the journey. While our mission, ethos and our principles remain unchanged since we started out 17 years ago, we’ve upped our game 10X in terms of skill, pacing and the clients we service. I could see five different phases of our evolution.
Phase 1: The Calling
After working with my father, a building architect, for about 11 years, a chance exposure we had to a workspace design project led me to an opportunity I would have otherwise completely missed. What I could see after executing that project was that while Indian building architecture was still relatively unsophisticated, owing mainly to heavy and archaic municipal regulation, the area of workspace design was not. Working in this space could lead to immediate and varied exposure to cutting edge work at global standards. The realisation that I could eventually be a globally compatible expert, doing what I love, was the seed of the JTCPL Designs dream.
Phase 2: The Breakthrough
After 13 months of pitching, we finally bagged our first major project, with a leading private bank at a prime location in Mumbai. With our commitment to discipline across all layers of the project, we really resonated with the client’s focus on the sanctity of the process and need to meet timelines. I was glad for the year-long wait because that’s what gave us the ability to sustain the immense pressure of the challenge. What I learnt from the project and from the client’s feedback was that there were not too many firms at the time that could deliver the way we did. This was the time I started to crystallise my 5D approach, which I have outlined in an earlier blog.
Since that first project with this client, we have executed over 200 projects for them and delivered every single time.
Phase 3: The Game Changer
After executing varied workspaces for a number of companies, we were finally ready for the transition to specialised corporate buildings. Our first such project was in the then brand new corporate development, Mindspace in Malad, Mumbai. The project itself was not large; the learnings however, were invaluable. It was with this project that we got attuned to the methods (and the madness) when executing a workspace within a specialised office complex; till this point we did not know there was such a thing as a “building manual”! This was also the phase when I really tested out and strengthened my 5D approach.
This project was the catalyst that drew other, bigger clients to us – one more step along the path I had chosen many years before.
Phase 4: Global Exposure
Despite having serviced major Indian banks, our first encounter with a global financial institution was intimidating. After exposure to workspaces for large private banks, and within large commercial buildings, we thought there was only incremental learning from there on. Boy, were we wrong! We were being exposed to so many new terms that we were completely blind-sided. At one early pitch meeting, I was asked, “how do you mitigate risk?” I didn’t even know what that meant as regards a workspace project!
But it was here that the exposure to global-standard concepts allowed us to inculcate them within our own practice. From the vantage point of the present, I can admit it was the first time we didn’t feel entirely prepared for the challenge. However, our disciplined approach was what helped us execute perfectly, while we learned to speak their language and deliver to these new standards.
We now service 3 of the world’s top 10 banks, with over a million square feet of globally certified sustainable projects. Thank God !
Phase 5: Back to The Roots
It was time for a new challenge and instead of looking ever further from where I started, I looked closer. Speaking to the entrepreneurs within my circle I could clearly see that the workspace is now considered an integral element of even small and medium-sized businesses. As an entrepreneur myself, I felt I understood what other entrepreneurs wanted for their workspaces, and how important it was to them. In addition, I could see myself getting inspired by the direct interactions with people who’d built large-scale business from scratch in one or two or three generations. This phase has been about expanding my horizons without focusing on the project’s size and scale, or the ‘prestige’ names of the previous phases. It’s been a true blessing to have executed workspaces for successful Indian entrepreneurs, and I have written about some of these in earlier blogs, the links for which are below.
17 years down the line, all this introspection has been surprisingly invigorating. And it’s very clear to me that I still feel like the dreamer I was when I founded JTCPL Designs. I still feel the same ‘stage fright’ before every new project pitch, and I still love the thrill of the chase.