Family plot

A residence at Burj Khalifa.

STORYTELLING is intrinsic to the design process at The First Ferry, a UAE-based design house that has set its heart on helping its clients cherish their memories and live their dreams, while creating unique spaces that are in sync with their personalities.

“The style that we follow in all of our design projects and that makes us unique and different from everyone else is that of storytelling,” says Prateek Chaudhry, founder of The First Ferry, which also has a presence in Singapore, London (UK) and New York (US).

“It is imperative for us to completely understand the customer’s mind space before we begin our design process. For us, storytelling is not only the design process that we follow but it is also our inspiration. Ideas play a very important role in storytelling. Ideas must have a reference point from which to begin,” he says.

Chaudhry stresses that the design presented is not a “spontaneous occurrence brought about by a Eureka moment”. It is more often achieved by endless moments of deep thoughts, countless trials, and equally as many mistakes. It requires meditation upon a single pressing problem that needs to be solved, along with consideration for the hundreds of variables that could impact the results. Often, the idea is formed from analysing existing systems, moving away from that and finding ways in which the present situation can be improved. The solution must have both functional and aesthetic value.”

The goal is to make each project iconic, ensuring that no design brief can ever be the same even for similar projects, he says, adding “We view each project as a unique challenge that demands exceptional solutions and that cannot be duplicated elsewhere without it becoming contrived.”

K Tower, Dubai ... traditional Indian lifestyle.

K Tower, Dubai ... traditional Indian lifestyle.

One of the recent projects executed by the company was an apartment at K Tower in Business Bay area, Dubai, UAE, for Chetan Mehra, the director of JP Morgan.

This project was an exercise in creating references, according to Chaudhry. He elaborates: “References that reflect deep-seated principles with inspiration from a rich cultural background and family heritage. We delved into cultural history and traditional Indian lifestyles; we sought things that would give a profound experience and we looked into the rich modern lifestyles as well as the well-loved traditional village life. We found iconic objects, films and calendar events and things that are close to the heart of the nation – things that bring us closer together and our home closer to ‘home’.

“Details of village life and ethnic materials were incorporated into the design. Thatched roof, rickshaws, Bollywood movies, mud and organic materials all speak of a pride in the rich history of the family and the richness of childhood experiences. Every detail of this house is tied to a story of a member or the family combined and can be related to a moment in their lives.”

True to its mandate of giving the client a feel of the project right from its inception, The First Ferry kept the family members in the loop during the research for ideas that reflect not only them but also the beliefs they stand for, and the creation of the theme of the house.

“The research took them to memories of childhood, school memories and milestones, of which they wanted to have memorabilia. It took them back to their roots, traditional foods, dinners and cultural events. We stitched these experiences together and created a story for them that is embodied in the details of the house.

Rich family history depicted at K Tower.

Rich family history depicted at K Tower.

“In fact, the house is a three-dimensional scrapbook of their story, immortalised in every detail of the apartment – in the plate numbers on the walls, on the rickshaw symbolising childhood adventures, of movies watched and holidays taken together. It embodies the happiness of welcoming milestones in their lives, like the arrival of their daughter and the success brought about by hard work.

 “This is design to the core for us at the First Ferry: finding out their story and re-telling it in details. For only in their story does the design become profoundly unique. There is no other home like this simply because there won’t ever be a story quite like theirs,” Chaudhry points out.

Born in Mumbai, India, Chaudhry has lived and worked in eight different countries absorbing the best of each culture which has led to a better understanding of design and the needs of different types of clients the world over.

An ex-Auckland city ambassador who had the privilege of carrying the Olympic torch in New Zealand, prior to the Sydney Olympics, Chaudhry says he have always believed on individuality, and this belief has been the founding stone for the business.

Established nearly five years ago, the company recently tied up with Gauri Khan, wife of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, to launch her signature line of designs that includes furniture and lights and her signature chandelier collection. Khan’s designs will be for high-end clients; and she will not limit herself to designing homes but also cafes, restaurants, offices, retail space and spas.

The First Ferry has many projects to its credit including homes at The Palm, Burj Khalifa and Emirates Hills as well as restaurants, clubs and corporate offices.

Details of village life incorporated.

Details of village life incorporated.

“We are doing work across countries, across product lines and we try to create bespoke stuff for the house. We try and customise every single product, be it for homes, offices or other commercial projects, giving a distinct flavour to each project we work on,” says Chaudhry.

As a designer, Chaudhry says he does not want to limit the kinds of projects he does. “Design is a freedom of expression and I see myself not only designing spaces but even objects – hence I would say as a designer the kind of projects I enjoy doing is limitless.”

Nor does he intend to limit himself to a particular style or to particular materials, aiming to give form to people’s dreams through the medium of design.

“One of the tenets of The First Ferry is to create unique interior designs that complement personalities, lifestyles and beliefs – creating and building reflections of value systems through metaphoric geometric presentations. Our job is to simply become the interpreters for the emotions and beliefs that the client wishes to experience. Our client marks the destination and we chart the course that leads him there,” Chaudhry emphasises.

On the company’s future plans, he says: “The First Ferry’s vision is very simple and yet unique at the same time. We are crazily passionate about design and our future plans are not limited to a single design space category but will extend to any form of design category from spaces to objects! Creativity has no limits as long as there is a story to tell!”