Sonny Singh: Redefining Contemporary Architecture and Living in India

In a thought-provoking interview, architect Sonny Singh shares his journey of leaving a successful career in the United States to settle down in Goa, India. Known for his innovative approach to architecture, Singh discusses his vision for creating a creative hub and contemporary living spaces in the heart of an Indian village.

Singh’s motivation behind his project (Cube gallery) was to provide a space for local creatives to come together and collaborate. He aimed to create a hub that would attract international artists and foster a sense of community and creativity. Despite skepticism from others who believed such a contemporary gallery belonged in a foreign country, Singh was inspired by the place he lived in and wanted to contribute something unique to his homeland.

Singh meeting visitors at the Cube Gallery

One of Singh’s main goals was to introduce the concept of contemporary art and living to India. He felt that many galleries in the country were lacking the proper design and atmosphere to showcase contemporary art effectively. Singh believed that displaying contemporary art in traditional spaces failed to provide the immersive experience that it deserved. With his project, he sought to bridge the gap by designing a gallery that truly complemented and enhanced the artworks it displayed.

Singh’s approach to architecture focused on the visual and volumetric aspects of space. He understood that people perceive space with their eyes, and he aimed to create visually appealing and thoughtfully designed areas. His living spaces featured open kitchens, which aligned with contemporary lifestyles where cooking became a part of the overall experience rather than a hidden task. Singh’s units were designed to reflect contemporary living in a village context, striking a balance between aesthetics and functionality.

Over time, Singh’s project attracted not only urban dwellers but also local villagers. Although some of them may not fully understand contemporary art, they found joy and beauty in the artistic environment. Singh takes pride in creating a space where locals can appreciate and enjoy art, even if they may not grasp its deeper meanings. It reflects his commitment to broadening the accessibility of art in his community.

Sustainability played a significant role in Singh’s approach to architecture. However, he emphasized the importance of contextual sustainability. Instead of blindly following sustainability trends, Singh believed in using sustainable practices that were suitable for the specific climate and environment. He cautioned against using sustainable architecture as a mere branding strategy, urging architects to consider the practicality and suitability of such practices.

Open air pieces of art at the Cube Gallery

When discussing the state of architecture in India, Singh expressed disappointment that the country still looks to foreign influences rather than developing its own contemporary architecture. He called for a redefinition of contemporary architecture in India, one that incorporates Indian sensibilities while embracing global influences. Singh emphasized the need for Indian architects, designers, and artists to take the lead in shaping the future of contemporary living in the country.

In closing, Singh highlighted the importance of embracing India’s cultural heritage and reclaiming traditional aspects of life, such as cuisine. He lamented the loss of balance and health in favor of embracing contemporary lifestyles influenced by the West. Singh called for a shift in mindset where Indians feel comfortable in their own skin and define their own version of contemporary life.

Sonny Singh’s journey and his commitment to redefining contemporary architecture and living in India serve as an inspiration for architects, designers, and creators. Through his projects, he aims to bring together art, culture, and sustainability while staying true to the essence of the Indian context. It is a reminder that the responsibility for shaping the future lies in the hands of those who dare to think differently and create with purpose.

Watch the video of the full interview here.