MEA August 2017

8 MEA MARKETS / August 2017 , The First Ferry is an Interior Design firmwith one of the most passionate, committed team of eccentric artists you couldmeet under one roof. We recently invitedManaging Director, Prateek Chaudhry to tell us more about the creative firm. Sailing Ahead with Unique Perspectives Since inception five years ago, The First Ferry have delivered a huge range of projects, from the sedate UAE embassy in Singapore to zany offices and restaurants that have been counted among the best-designed in the world, the exceptionally talented firm have been very busy. Driven by the creative genius of Prateek Chaudhry, the ‘Skipper’ or Managing Director, The First Ferry have designs that are distinct, full of personality and always incorporate art into their work wherever possible, as Prateek explains. “When we made the offices of Redknee, a large IT firm for example, their logo (a South American Redknee spider) could have easily been made as a graphic at the reception. We specially invited a sculptor to create the spider in wood and use real human hair to make it look horrifically realistic – then suspended it on a massive web made from coir ropes to create a three-dimensional logo. It is this fervour to go the extra mile, think differently and see unique perspectives that sets The First Ferry apart. “Our preferred client is the Ultra High Net Worth Individual who is able to give us an open canvas in terms of creativity and budgets. One thing I like to say is ‘Good design is not about being expensive; it is about thinking and perceiving differently.’ “Very often, a client comes to us saying he wants an office or showroom that is ‘unique’. However, after enthusiastically presenting him with a number of such never-before-seen options, we are forced to a creative corner that is anything but different. This is because it takes great gumption and self-belief to truly do things that the world has never seen before. Most people like the notion of making a unique statement – till they realize unique also means taking a one- of-a-kind stance.” Prateek directs The First Ferry creative team and ensures he meets every new client personally for the briefing. Having an advertising background, he has a special talent for seeing the paraphernalia around the client, doing a quick parallel- brand analysis and interpreting the client’s words to distil the real desire for the way his new home or office should look. Senior Manager, Neerja Shonek gives an example of Prateek’s creative ways but also notes on challenges within the industry in the Middle East. “There was this gentleman, for example, who called us to design his home in Emirates Hills, one of the top addresses in Dubai. A wealthy man, who had studied in Western Universities, he drove a Maserati, wore a silk Versace shirt, a gleaming gold and diamond Rolex. This client met us on a working day holding a glass of whiskey in his diamond- encrusted hand. He asked us to design a quiet, under-stated, classic Italian home. As soon as the team walked out, Prateek turned to the designers and said, ‘Forget the brief. Design an over- the-top leather, glass and steel home.’ “Much against their better judgement, the team prepared two concepts: one classy and understated as per the client brief and the other as per Prateek’s brief. The gentleman looked through his own concept first, muttering quiet sounds of appreciation. As soon as he started flipping through the second concept, however, he sat up straight, his eyes gleaming and shouted ‘I love this!’ “One of the problem areas in our industry is that there is often a 1705ME06 gap between client expectations and the final delivered project. To avoid this, our first step is to prepare the space plan – and present the concept in three- dimensional photo-realistic renders. Unlike industry norm, we never limit the number of renders, preferring instead to give a detailed view of every corner in every room so that from the client to the contractor and project managers, everybody has a very clear idea of what the end result will look like. “The Middle East is, we believe, more buoyant than most economies because of the tremendous demographic variety in this market. No matter what happens across the world, the UAE continues to attract moneyed people who invest in fancy homes, create upscale shopping experiences or fine- dining spaces. There is never shortage of work for those who are talented and deliver work of a consistent quality. “The only ‘challenge’, if any, is to ensure projects are created exactly as envisaged, of good quality, in the budget indicated and on time. These elements can easily be managed by working with the right partners, planning right and maintaining regular oversight.”