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The Slow Home Project: Design Stories: Priyam Doshi, founder, Name Place Animal Thing

THE SLOW HOME PROJECT | WRITTEN BY PAYAL KHANDELWAL | SEPTEMBER 2023


“Design should be honest.” - Priyam Doshi


Honesty is quite important for Priyam Doshi when it comes to his work - this need for honesty encompasses his mission to make highly functional products that also delight. He is particular about using quality materials, giving attention to every minuscule detail, and reducing wastage as much as possible.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Priyam launched Name Place Animal Thing - a name he had been holding in his heart ever since he helped a friend decide the name for his fashion label. He just knew that whatever he does in the future will be produced under Name Place Animal Thing - a name that he saw as a inspiration with which he can “design anything under the sun”. After a decade of working with various brands including JSW Living, Pepperfry.com, Future Group, Lemon Design, Josmo Studio, and Freedom Tree, he finally started creating striking, unique furniture products under his own label. Currently, the products are housed under two collections - The Habitat Collection and The Quarry Collection.



Priyam Doshi

Priyam Doshi

The home where it all started…     

“I have been living in the same house since my childhood. Interestingly, the building I live in Borivali LIC Colony is designed by Charles Correa! It’s a lush green property - hard to find in a city like Mumbai. It’s designed so beautifully and is such a versatile space.

My earliest memories in the colony are those of summer vacations. It was all open at that time and we could walk through the entire colony. It used to be such an adventure just meandering and exploring the space. We used to play so many games, pluck a lot of mangoes from the trees. There were (and still are) so many trees around. Our house also has a beautiful terrace with a flower bed in between. An abundance of nature everywhere.”

While outside was more about exploring the neighbourhood, inside the house Priyam used to be occupied with repairing old things and crafting new things from a very young age. “When I was in 3rd or maybe 4th standard, I made my first robot out of matchboxes. As kids, we used to collect GI Joes which had limited original weapons, so my friends and I started building our own weapons, gadgets, and flying vehicles for them. Making things out of waste and repairing old things became a way of habit from very early on.” 

It’s almost as if Priyam’s childhood was a mirror to what he went onto study in the future - Product Engineering at Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of Engineering, followed by a Master’s Degree in Lifestyle Accessory Design at the National Institute of Design (NID). 

The house slowly transformed with time and a few renovations. One thing that remained constant was the need for functionality. “Functionality is an important thing for me as space was a constraint. Whenever we renovated, we made sure not to waste any material. We would often recycle/reuse old solid wood from doors and old pieces of furniture, create more storage space, and innovate within what existed. For example, we got a small cabinet made on our terrace within the wall itself by removing bricks and replacing with a flat stone, creating space for storage.”

“While functionality is already a big part of my home, ‘fun’ is something I am yet to add in my own home.” 

“Functionality is an important thing for me as space was a constraint. Whenever we renovated, we made sure not to waste any material. We would often recycle/reuse old solid wood from doors and old pieces of furniture, create more storage space, and innovate within what existed.


Launching Name Place Animal Thing

Priyam launched Name Place Animal Thing (NPAT) on 1st April, 2020 - a tough time to have launched a new business. “It was an overwhelming experience - a designer trying to become an entrepreneur and that too during a pandemic. But I always wanted to start Name Place Animal Thing, and that just felt like the right time to do it.”

In the beginning, NPAT was designing products for other brands/individuals. Priyam had designed more than 150 products for others since starting the studio. “My aim was to continue building my portfolio and create good designs that sell, so I was slogging during the lockdown. But eventually, I decided it was time to move on.” 

His very own collection emerged during Raw collaborative - it’s an exclusively curated show that aims to bring together the best of Indian aesthetics in furniture design. Priyam had to create products for the ‘Playground’ area in Raw - which, as the name suggests, needed the products to be playful, unique and interactive. “As creating quirky stuff comes naturally to me, I decided to participate. While I was figuring out what products to create, the folks at Muse Lab (who were the curators of Playground that year) really inspired me to push the envelope, as did my wife. The essence of the ‘Playground’ was inspiring as well. So I decided to go all out and show people what Name Place Animal Thing really stands for. The entire Habitat collection was created for Raw, and the response was great. People loved the products. People don’t expect functional products to be fun as well and vice versa - but in these products, all the details have been thought through while retaining the quirkiness.” 



Moose Cabinet

MOOSE CABINET



Moose Cabinet

Priyam has also recently launched the Quarry collection which is a series of ethereal lamps created with a thin layered stone sheet. This was a very conscious choice as he wanted to design products with more familiar forms that can easily blend into a variety of contemporary interiors/spaces.

“As a designer, I love exploring different materials, and the lamps gave me a chance to do that. Even if its in a subtle way or with just one element, my products should stand out. With this collection, I wanted to create something that would appeal to most people while still being interesting. Stone is a super trendy material, but actual stones are very heavy, expensive, difficult to manufacture and maintain. This collection is lightweight, comparatively affordable, and because these are stone sheets, they are low maintenance.” 



Quarry Collection

CLEO LAMP (From the QUARRY COLLECTION)


Then came one of the most exciting collaborations for NPAT - creating a range of terrazzo products for Bharat Floorings on the occasion of their centenary this year. “While they knew they wanted to make terrazzo products, what those products should be is something we brainstormed together on. We wanted lifestyle products that are trendy, functional, and can be produced easily. And of course, I wanted the products to stand out in the market. We finally decided on terrazzo mirrors as one of the products, as that’s something you don't see often. We ended up creating 11 different products including wall mirrors, table mirrors, lamps, and photo frames under the Terrapop collection. The form of the mirrors is very subtle and they can be placed in any way - vertically or horizontally. Since the wall mirrors are heavy, I also developed the hardware which will keep them firmly on the wall.”

“Working with terrazzo was basically like working with candy and confetti - it was a lot of fun. I wanted to retain and emphasise the playfulness of the material. I have also used very organic, circular forms with terrazzo as a material, something that’s quite unusual.”



Olio Pendant Lamp BFT

Olio Blanc – Pendant Lamp (Image Courtesy bharatfloorings.com) | Designed by Name Place Animal Thing in collaboration with Bharat Floorings - as part of the Terrapop - Home Decor Collection by BFT


Mt. Terra Mirror BFT

Mt. Terra Blanc – Desk Mirror (Image Courtesy bharatfloorings.com) | Designed by Name Place Animal Thing in collaboration with Bharat Floorings - as part of the Terrapop - Home Decor Collection by BFT


Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, Priyam feels that the word itself has become more of a marketing gimmick and there are very few people who genuinely care. 

This is what his take is - “Whatever material you might be using in creating your product, you would want to ensure there’s minimal wastage. Indians are quite naturally sustainable to be honest. We are always looking for optimal utilisation of materials and reducing wastage. For example, I have been recycling old FMCG boxes for packing most of my smaller products. I use the other side of printed A4 sheets to do my sketches, instead of using a pristine sketchbook. Somehow, it frees me creatively and also reduces paper wastage. So these things are what might make my brand sustainable but I don’t like to use it in my communication.”


Vision for Name Place Animal Thing

“Playing around with the name of the studio has been amazing so far. The goal is to always be really versatile, unique, and create products that are fun and functional. While the studio is in a transition phase right now, I would always want it to remain explorative, versatile, inquisitive, playful, interactive, clever, and functional. I want people to feel some form of joy after seeing my products. Product dekha to maza ayaa. I also want to retain my collaborative spirit - helping my other designer friends and seeking help when needed.” 


Alpaca Bar Cabinet

ALPACA BAR CABINET


Mushroom Floor Lamps

MUSHROOM LAMPS

Some quick ones:

What are some of your most favourite places in your home?

  1. During the lockdown, it was the terrace

  2. I get the best sleep on the sofa

  3. Binge watching TV with my wife in the living room during the weekends

  4. I actually get my best ideas in the shower 

  5. My mom and dad’s room (and sometimes going there just to hug my mom) as that’s still my comfort place

What is your favourite piece of furniture in your home?

That would be the chest of drawers in my bedroom. It is my favourite utility item. We use it for our everyday clothes and knickknacks. It has a huge space on top where we display our keepsakes - like our pictures together, travel souvenirs, candles, and other such stuff.  


PRIYAM'S CHEST OF DRAWERS AT HOME

PRIYAM'S CHEST OF DRAWERS AT HOME


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