What goes through the mind of a designer? Let’s ask one… or in this case, two. Headed by Hend Almatrouk and Gijo Paul George, Studio Toggle is a relatively young architecture and design studio with offices in Kuwait and Portugal and a wealth of experience. We’ve had our eye on them for a while, and been impressed by their work. So, we posed them a series of what we hoped would be thought provoking questions. Hend and Gijo responded with a great insight in to their approach to the business and ethics of design.
What are you selling?
We are a design firm, we are designers and architects, and we sell our ideas, creativity and solutions to problems that shapes societies, cities and lifestyles.
Where do you get your creative concepts?
Each case is different. Any concept is generated from the given factors, a current situation and a problem that needs to be solved. Based on research and analysis, and being responsible a concept is born. You need to be daring as well, taking risks is part of the creative game. Being bold is part of our personality and there, concepts flourish. We are not afraid to try something new or explore new details and materials for example.
Are you creating needs, wants, or longings?
Neither. We solve issues through creative thinking.
Are you solving a problem?
We solve problems every day through our design solutions.
What problems are you solving?
There are many problems to be solved. If we take it to a smaller scale then we are talking about each project individually. If we take it on bigger scale then we talk about the urban fabric, environment and surroundings. We as an office try as much as we can to solve problems inside out. It could be parking issues, pedestrian movement and human comfort, trees and greenery, garbage disposal, sustainability and everything that affects human use. We are responsible to our environment and land and we believe that a positive impact should result from those actions.
Is there a way in which your work might be creating or contributing to other problems?
Our work sets high living standards in which it contributes to the urban development. It does not create a problem but it highlights problems with obvious solutions that we hope everyone acknowledges.
Who benefits from your creative work?
People who inhabit our buildings and experience them.
Do you think about how long these buildings will last?
Our buildings are engineered and our aim that people will preserve them.
And where they will go when we’re done with them?
Nowhere, they will leave a mark and they will be preserved since they are timeless.
Is it okay to be a designer without weighing the larger implications of your work?
Or, is it “just a job”?
For us it is not a job. It is what we do, it is who we are and what we are good at, and we just love it.
What are you working for? What I mean to say is, Why do you do what you do?
What we do represents us. We love to fix things, solve problems and elevate living standards. We see beauty in everything and we make experiences special. When your work speaks of itself, to us that is the big reward.
Why do you get up every day and make work?
We feed on it. To have a sense of accomplishment keeps you going, and hard work pays off. Leaving a legacy behind is what we aim for.
What are your core values, your own deeply held beliefs?
Being ethical, honest, responsible and reliable.
Is your work in alignment with these values?
Of course, it is part of our philosophy. The three pillars of Studio Toggle are Architecture, Urbanism and Activism. Not necessarily in that order. One may infer that as architecture rooted in urbanistic activism. While not overtly subversive, our work definitely goes against the grain. We reject styles and trends. We reject non-functional ornamentation. We challenge norms and standard practices. We embrace technology. We embrace optimisation. We embrace minimalism as a lifestyle and reject it as a style. Our focus is on spatially rich optimized spaces, and the multiple layers of interactions with the surroundings. We believe that simplicity is complex. We believe in democratisation of design and urbanity and the freedom that entails.
Can you create the world you want to live in?
Yes, but it takes effort and time. You have to be aware of the world you live in and how do you make it better, and in what way you will participate to add value. It is a collaborative effort from everyone who shapes this world around us. We believe that the responsibility falls on everyone’s shoulders. Everyone has to do their part within their power from small gestures like taking care of your streets and pedestrians, keep it clean, to planning for a better future and have a civilized city.
What will you do today to make that happen?
We are taking small steps everyday to make it happen and we hope that people will realize that and take bigger steps with us.
STUDIO TOGGLE WAS ESTABLISHED IN 2012 BY ARCHITECTS HEND ALMATROUK AND GIJO PAUL GEORGE, BOTH MASTERS GRADUATES FROM THE UNIVERSITÄT FÜR ANGEWANDTE KUNST, VIENNA, AUSTRIA. THE PRACTICE FOCUSES ON LOGICAL DESIGN AND PROBLEM-SOLVING TECHNIQUES WITH A SPECIFIC EMPHASIS ON ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN. THEY BELIEVE IN A BALANCE BETWEEN THE OPPOSITES, THAT FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION, THE SIMPLICITY IS COMPLEX, AND THAT EVEN CHAOS CAN BE ORGANIZED.
SEE MORE OF THEIR WORK AT STUDIOTOGGLE.COM