Faculty of Design Professor Neal Prabhu is a licensed architect, registered interior designer and co-director of nkArchitect, an award-winning Toronto-based architecture and interior design practice he founded in 2008, together with Nelson Kwong.
Prabhu describes his practice as an architect and interior designer as human based. “I (and our firm) strive to develop experiential spaces that evoke emotion while enduring simple everyday tasks for our patrons,” he says. “Common questions we ask our clients query what they do, when they do, how they do and why they do. With the answers to these simple questions we can establish an architectural response to their activities that enhance the functions of their everyday lives.”
The firm’s work includes architecture, interiors, furniture and landscape design for boutique commercial, residential and institutional spaces and for development studies. Its portfolio reflects a consistent modernist sensibility and approach to spatial quality, with detailing and materials tailored to each project. The firm’s work has received recognition from The Design Exchange, Canadian Architect, Canadian Interiors, ARIDO, AZURE, Harbourfront Gallery and The Globe and Mail.
In addition to his devotion to a modernist sensibility, Prabhu is driven by qualitative aspects of space, emotion, proportion, light, materiality and detailing. In the classroom he strives to teach relevancy. He starts each term by talking about the projects his firm is working on, and how they overlap with the students’ own design projects to help them make a connection between their sometimes hypothetical projects and the industry. He also teaches human-centred design methodologies and human-centred material studies.
Helping students establish their own process is key: “I encourage exploration at the same time as practical consideration, allowing students to determine their own balance based on their particular design sensibilities. This was a process I valued greatly in my own education working with practicing professionals — and look to continue it as an active professional and educator,” he says.
As such, his advice for students is to create a niche. “The school and also the Environmental Design program specifically aim to prepare students to be design entrepreneurs by identifying niche markets that engage their creativity. OCAD U values interdisciplinarity.” he says. “Allowing students to uninhibitedly explore different aspects of architecture, interior and landscape design and research helps in the promotion of diversity of disciplines.”
Find out more: nkarchitect.ca
Writer/author/editor Suzanne Alyssa Andrew is also the president and biographer-in-chief of Biograflyer.