I am a furniture designer having a design studio where I apply design across different disciplines, categories and sectors. I therefore do not differentiate myself as a product, furniture or a graphic designer, but just as a designer who is interested in working in varied areas.

I started Circus Design Company in the year 1990 after graduating from The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. My early projects were designing industrial products for India’s foremost consumer brand. My love for furniture design led me to design single pieces of furniture for individual clients and small retail shops. Through a chance discovery of furniture I designed for a retail shop; I was invited to design a boutique shop. This was the beginning of a long relationship with the client leading me to design many more boutique shops and more exclusive interior projects including office spaces for advertising agencies and recording studios.

In 2002, I designed a food court in a mall that brought together applications of multiple design disciplines; graphics, interior, furniture and signage to realise my first hospitality project. This led me to think about the importance of controlling design across all touchpoints to create a `brand’.

I renamed our studio to Ajay Shah Design Studio (ASDS) to exercise this new found multidisciplinary approach into our projects. The outcome was several more projects where we combined all the design disciplines into one focused concept to produce distinctive identities.

We also found opportunities to design multiple formats of retail shops with the growing organisation of retail in India. Malls were being implemented across many cities in India and this led us to work with leading retail brands to design their stores.

Malls also resulted in multiplex cinemas and a new investment of design started to see shape under leading multiplex operators. We engaged extensively with one of the key operators in India, to bring visual narratives in cinema spaces. Each narrative took cinema art as the anchor concept, providing image stylisation to build atmosphere and identity. My love for cinema found design expression and the engagement provided me to use popular as well classic cinema stills dimensionally to large scale surfaces as well to installations.

We caught the attention of a prominent and fast growing real estate developer and this led us to designing brand identities for their projects. We were soon having conversations with more real estate developers to propose identities and marketing collaterals for their projects. Our understanding of architecture and interior design gave us the opportunity to design experience spaces for the developer and the brands to communicate product information. We seamlessly integrated advertising, creating print and outdoor campaigns for projects branded by us.
Our continuous exercise of project gymnastics has been useful, because it constantly modifies our design perspective; transferring experiences from one field to another and from one scale to another.

In 2008 I created my own product brand Rubberband followed by a design shop called Everyday Project and a furniture brand Industrial Playground.

Today Rubberband is firmly anchored into designing products and furniture.
Besides our own products, we have also collaborated with design studios in the world to make products of authority. Our products are available online as well at design and museum shops across the UK, USA, Japan, Europe and India.
By being designers, producers and sellers we now have a greater understanding of what it takes to create a brand; the challenges, the thrill and the discipline of design integrity.

We have had many thoughts about the purpose of our studio, but the one I continue to hold closest to me is the idea of `modern design’. My instinct is to seek an expression of clarity, simplicity, surprise and delight in the work we produce.
The aversion to convention and passion for the new pushes us to experiment, proposing new models and inventing new frameworks.

- Ajay Shah

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© Ajay Shah Design Studio 2024