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northeast | architecture

Minimalism and Materiality

Nandinee Phookan Architects has brought a global depth to bear on the firm’s endeavors in architecture, furniture and brand design. by Joel Cornell

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andinee Phookan Architects is a multifaceted Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm with a diverse portfolio of innovative and progressive work. “I was interested in art as well as math and science,” Phookan said. “Architecture was a natural fit for my diverse interests. For me, it is the most complex and challenging art as it simultaneously addresses issues of utility, function, structure and environmental systems, as well as aesthetics and form-making.” Her words do well to sum up Nandinee Phookan Architects’ comprehensive and passionate approach to design and architecture. Combining a minimalist approach with a richness in materials, Nandinee Phookan Architects’ projects have a distinct style across a range of scales and project types, from architecture to furniture, products and branding. Born in Assam, India, Phookan first received her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Delhi before attending The Mas 42 Architecture Leaders Today

sachusetts Institute of Technology to earn her Masters degree in Housing and Environmental Design. During her time at MIT, Phookan worked with N. John Habraken on the application of his “Supports and Infill” system to multi-family housing and urban design. The key to the system was flexibility in design that gave the user greater control over their environment by separating elements that are fixed and those that are not. In her own practice, Phookan has continued to pursue her interest in multi-family housing along with other building types. After leaving MIT, Phookan relocated to New York City where she worked with several architectural firms and taught design studios at Pratt Institute and City College. In 1996, she started her firm with projects ranging from high-end residential to corporate interiors and galleries. From the beginning, the focus of the firm was on design excellence and the studio promoted collaboration and creative thinking. Phookan’s partner, co-principal Luis

Rivera, joined the firm in 2002 and brought with him a history of working in larger architectural firms including Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Ellerbe Beckett and NBBJ. His experience in the coordination of interdisciplinary teams of consultants, and the management of projects on a large and complex scale brought a level of technical expertise that empowers the creatively conducive culture of the firm. In maintaining a diverse array of project types across many industry verticals, Nandinee Phookan Architects has branched out into urban design and planning, cultural and community centers and affordable housing as well as residential and commercial architecture and interiors, not to mention their lines of products and extensive branding services. In 2009 Nandinee Phookan Architects launched Imake Studio, “a design studio that celebrates the power of design through a process of making.” The first product introduced by Imake Studio was Octavo, a modular table developed

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