I vividly remember the day I met Parag Chheda, Joint Managing Director of Prince Pipes and Fittings Pvt. Ltd. Parag had reached out to me as they had recently purchased premises in a swanky corporate building, The Ruby, situated in Dadar, the transit hub of Mumbai. What was to follow was an enriching experience and a beautiful project
His father, the pioneering Jayant Shamji Chheda is known as one of the most dynamic, enterprising and energetic businessmen in the country. There wasn’t much of an introduction required as Prince Pipes & Fittings Pvt. Ltd. had long been a leading, household name in sanitary ware and the hardware space. For those of you who are unaware, Jayant Chheda changed the piping industry in the country by developing lightweight, durable and robust PVC pipes that replaced heavy aluminum piping.
With the company and business evolving considerably, the roots, however remained as firm as the beginning. Aiming towards ‘endless, continuous and potential growth’ in a sustainable manner, the company built itself an empire in a span of a few decades.
Sometimes even a simple brief has more than what meets the eye. This wasn’t just an office upgrade. It was essentially the passing of the baton from one generation to the other. Jayantbhai was content with his space of operations, for there was a romantic sense of nostalgia and comfort associated with it. Whereas his son Parag, who I found to be as enterprising and inspiring as his father, had a vision to take his father’s dream a notch higher. He explained to his father that they need to stop thinking of themselves as a 1000cr company and start working towards becoming a 10,000cr company, something both agreed they have the potential for. What was interesting for me to take away is the fact that the earlier generation, while still being as ambitious as the current generation, are comfortable in their own humble zone.
What role did I have to play in this? My challenge was to cater to the comfort of Jayantbhai’s outlook while creating a space based on Parag’s ambitious vision. And the camaraderie of the father & son when it came to their vision of Prince Pipes, became the foundation of my thought process.
Another trigger was my set of encounters with Jayantbhai in his old workspace, that I believe brought surety to my mind on how I would perfect ‘the Ruby’ for the ‘Prince’.
During our initial meetings in his old office, I noticed his simple and informal approach towards conducting meetings and briefings. He seemed to prefer conducting the meetings with a personal touch; sitting casually with his associates seated right near him. No enforcement of his authority or his superiority in any way, his associates respected his stature and demeanour, but were still treated as equals on the meeting table. That beautiful insight was evolved into the new meeting area in his cabin that maintained the simplicity but amped up the elegance.
The space obtained by Prince Pipes was larger than they had immediate use for. A good architectural call is not always ‘how do you make best use of a provided space’ but also ‘how can you positively impact the business in any manner’. That’s a value addition of a good service provider, providing scope for growth and maximising potential.
We created the office setup leaving ample provision for growth, and yet managed to leave out a large chunk of space that they could rent out till they felt fit.
But the showstopper of this project was not the smart optimization of space, not the meeting area but was a smart addition right over it! The ‘pièce de résistance’ as I’d like to call it, the sculpture made out of Prince Pipes. Yeah, you read this right! We picked this up from Jayantbhai’s modest nature and his humble approach in business, we worked on a sculpture that was made of their own pipes!
When I first pitched the idea to Parag, he seemed so taken, that he arranged to manufacture a special batch of pipes for the piece. Customized in white rather than the original grey, to suit the décor. Affixed in a combination of sizes above the meeting room, Jayantbhai’s office has been designed to radiate class and elegance while staying true to his roots and beliefs.
We kept the piece hidden from Jayantbhai till the completion of the project. We could see the pride and humility in his eyes as he looked at the sculpture, Jayantbhai, keeping his demeanour as calm as always. Watching him admire the representation of the business that got him to where he is now, radiating light, quite literally over his head. That project was not just a professional success for me but was also a personal success as it lead to a friendship, that blossoms with each enriching conversation.
The Prince Pipes Project, for a number of reasons, is a memorable one. Bridging the ideologies of two generations of businessmen, and ensuring that the core of the business reflects as bright as it always did. That I believe is the true power of design.
“A profession comes to define who you are, and it is only fair for the essence of the workplace to resemble the personality of the people who worked days and nights to build it brick-by-brick.“