Tales of hope for the uninitiated: A fresher at PBB

  • July 18, 2013
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It was the summer of 2006 and I was counting my last days in the landscape course at CEPT. While I was chatting with my colleague in the studio, my cell phone rang and I saw “Aniket sir” calling. The moment I attended the call, I was asked about my game plan for the future. I could not tell him then, but just by making the call, he had already ruined my plans.

Exactly two years before the call, I was comfortably working in a big firm in Delhi and life was easy. Somehow for several reasons, the words; green, trees and flowers started fascinating me and I thought to myself that it’s a world that I could easily try my hand with. All it would take is some understanding of plant names and the ability to arrange them in serpentine fashion, with some sculpture, some lights and a water fall thrown in and topped with a gazebo. It seemed easy.

Like a clever man (at least I thought so in my mind) I laid out a plan for myself. It had three components:, firstly I had my brother in law who owned a  nursery which was quite big and I already had the offer of setting up my small office in the premise, secondly, the CEPT University was offering a programme  landscape architecture , which was a two year course,   the third and the final piece of the jigsaw, was my biggest hope – my many friends in Gujarat (since I had done my  bachelors from Surat), would help me with  garden projects and  hence pursuing  “landscaping” would not be difficult.

After all it’s all about plants…..

The plan worked for me at the start, and I found myself in Ahmedabad in CEPT. However, just after a month spent there, my entire plan started collapsing and by the time I was about to complete my two years, it was dust. The true meaning of landscape started seeping in. It started changing everything, the way of thinking, the way of looking at nature, the way of looking at life itself. It touched everything. It was a fascinating world, which I enjoyed and yet even in that world, I knew hardly anything about “design”.

Coming back to the phone conversation; with no real plans in my mind, I just told him that I would like to go back to Delhi and join a landscape firm. Even this excuse did not work and I was invited to be a part of M/s PBB. A good friend and colleague of mine who had worked in the office for two years before the masters programme also joined the office with me. I told her that I know nothing about design and I hope the expectations from me are not high. Also somewhere in the corner of my mind there was an arrogance and confidence that  led me to believe that I was  good in what I did  and I would be able to settle in easily and deal with the world.

In the very first week, I could sense that there was something fishy in the way the office worked. They customized lights, they customized fountains, they customized objects and above all they customized design for each project! To me this was unheard off. There was no visual referencing from any of the thousands books lying in the library- a tool that I thought was the key to design in office.. Instead there were many design discussions, most of which I could hardly understand. I used to stare at big sketches in the office done with markers and use to wonder how one could ever imagine design like this. It was a feeling which I find difficult to explain even now. The guilt of knowing nothing about the design and the inability of either absorbing or contributing to the many design discussions was a troubled phase in my life. I knew it was only a matter of time before my weakness would be exposed.

And then, life seems started afresh with a challenge. A challenge to “learn”. It was a tight rope walk, one side weighed by my personal ego and arrogance and the other by the reality that I knew little. The choice had to be made by me; to quit or to accept the fact that I just had to earn my peace, and plunge headlong in the rough waters to just grapple with this strange animal called “design”. It was difficult but eventually I settled for the latter.

As I realized; if life needs to have some meaning, I will have to stay and learn.
It seemed as if life was a long journey with an aim towards learning the design eventually.
With challenges every step every day. But there was enough inspiration and support around that kept me afloat in ride that had its share of many spills and falls.
While walking through these years, the ‘aim’ has disappeared somewhere and there is joy and curiosity of self exploration with every step, every day, every moment, for the next design adventure.

It’s been seven years in the office and I still find myself as a ‘fresher’ here.

-Vinay Kushwah.


Sketch- Design Studio -CEPT-2005


Sketch for the Banke Biharis Garden in Vrundavan- 2004


Masterplan- Calcutta Riverside- 2006


Masterplan -Devital, Cochin-2007


Landscape sketch-Deviratna-Jaipur-2008


Sketch- School in Ahmedabad-2009


Sketch- Mahaeco- Development in Western Ghats-2010


Restructuring masterplan and landscape- FLAME University- Pune-2011


Sketch- Golf Community at Pune- 2012

Vinay Kushwah heads the landscape design effort in the office, and handles a complex range of projects from large master plans, ecological reconstruction projects, and landscape design, and by all accounts is one amongst a limited number of accomplished landscape designers in the country, who can handle “design” and ecological strategies with ease.

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Recent Comments

  • That was a nice glimpse. Honest and lucid. How about sharing the actual mechanism of the shift, the transformation.
    Also, I understand that there is a difference between formal education and initiation in an office. In a Practice there is walking the talk and leading by example. But if you could develop a model, then one may not have to go through the torture in an autocratic office! And many more would benefit.

    It was a pleasure reading. Thank you Vinay, for sharing. I am going to get my daughter to read it. She has just joined architecture.

  • Vinay, Very nice. As have known you for past few years, I think you should give yourself a little more credit. Applauding for the way you have expressed yourself honestly and further have pursued to create and achieve a new dream which very few can even think of including me. Well reading this, something inside tells me….its never too late….:)Thanks for sharing.


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