Prasoon Shrivastava of Prasoon Design Studio: “Uncertainty is the only certainty in life”

The biggest setback I experienced was during my tenure as Director of Arkiplan International, a global architecture firm, when we decided to take our international practice to the Southeast Asia market during the 2009–10 economic meltdown. We made decisions based on our gut feeling instead of data, which cost us dearly and impacted the overall […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

The biggest setback I experienced was during my tenure as Director of Arkiplan International, a global architecture firm, when we decided to take our international practice to the Southeast Asia market during the 2009–10 economic meltdown. We made decisions based on our gut feeling instead of data, which cost us dearly and impacted the overall business.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewingPrasoon Shrivastava.

Prasoon Shrivastava is the Founder and CEO of Prasoon Design Studio, a new-age architecture and design firm with headquarters in Dubai and an office in India, specializing in hospitality, residential, commercial, retail, and institutional projects. With a background in construction and sustainability, Prasoon is an architect by profession, an entrepreneur by DNA, and a storyteller by practice. Prasoon’s curiosity has guided the studio’s distinct design approach, where each individual is encouraged to create architectural narratives that connect buildings to their community and context.

Founded in 2020, Prasoon Design Studio delivers iconic concepts deeply rooted in environmental mindfulness, leveraging cutting-edge technologies and bio-climatic design to arrive at bespoke architectural solutions. Resolutely experimental in approach, Prasoon Design Studio’s work extends the boundaries of efficiency and sustainability.

Prasoon Shrivastava comes from a background immersed in the construction industry geared towards sustainability. Under his guidance, Prasoon Design Studio pursues each project as a matrimony of art and conscience to create innovative architectural solutions with a goal to optimize market and environmental viability. The company constantly strives to produce ethically valid architectural stories that impart public interaction fueled through form, function and materiality.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I come from a family of engineers. My father is a civil engineer with a well-established business, and because of this I became familiar with the ins and outs of the construction industry at a young age. My father was the one who introduced me to architecture as a career path. As I began practicing in Dubai and India, I was exposed to so many new technologies and ultimately came to realize that technology is the way forward. Once I came to this realization, I started investing heavily in new technologies, and eventually founded Prasoon Design Studio.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 2006 as a young reckless entrepreneur I conducted my business on speculation and had a limited understanding of finance, sales, business, etc. I relied more on my gut feeling than data to make my decisions. I assumed that I was entitled to get business and that it would come to me with limited efforts. Unsurprisingly, the speculation backfired and I was left with just 10 dollars. This experience taught me to value money and invest in learning the nuances of running a business.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Traditional architecture studios just focus on design, and this is where we set ourselves apart. Prasoon Design Studio is fundamentally experimental. We aim to disrupt the design and construction industry and extend the boundaries of efficiency and sustainability. Our studio not only focuses on innovative designs, but also enables efficient delivery of those designs. We are one of the first architecture studios to offer end-to-end project lifecycle management from design to construction. We achieve this through a suite of technologies, including intelligent project management, 5D BIM delivery, and robotic integration.

During the design process, we use computational design algorithms to create complex geometries, as well as simulate and analyze the building performance. With our intelligent in-house construction management platform, Zepth, we ensure that a project is delivered on budget, on time, and with the highest quality. Zepth is driven by artificial intelligence and streamlines all aspects of the project lifecycle by integrating all project stakeholders, owners, developers, contractors, and consultants. The program facilitates real-time project visibility and faster decision making with modules for project financials, quality and safety, document management, team collaboration, and powerful analytics. This is a truly forward-thinking collaborative system that incorporates all aspects of a project lifecycle. This collaboration is further supported by 5D BIM delivery, which creates a shared data environment for all information and activity, facilitating a more fluid design evolution. Rather than sticking to a frozen design, 5D BIM delivery helps teams revise and make changes to meet evolving needs.

On top of this, we are exploring the boundaries of robotic integration. We are proud to be the second architecture studio in the world to integrate Spot by Boston Dynamics. For those who may not be familiar, Spot is a mobile robot that navigates terrain and can be programmed for repeatable autonomous tasks. Spot, alongside drone deployment, enables us to capture limitless data through automated inspections and to create hyper-realistic site models. All of these technologies come together to facilitate safer, more efficient, and more predictable operations.

How do you think this might change the world?

Maximizing efficiency in building design and delivery will have a hugely positive impact on the world through sustainability. Sustainability is more than just environmental mindfulness and reducing a building’s carbon footprint on the planet. Sustainability also means taking a crucial look at the resources that we utilize during the building process and how we consume them. These new technologies will help us to eliminate waste, utilize natural resources, and save the industry millions of dollars in the process. It is imperative that the industry is open to adopting these new technologies, so that we can pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient future.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

There is a common apprehension that automation technologies will take jobs away from humans. While this is a valid concern to address, it is misguided. If you look closely at technological advancements over the last few decades, they are seeking to replicate repetitive tasks, as opposed to analytical jobs. Artificial intelligence is not the same as human intelligence. Technology is far from achieving the perceptive abilities that define human creativity and innovation. These new technologies are born out of a desire to make our lives easier, not to create problems.

The idea of artificial intelligence also tends to conjure up horror scenarios induced by an over-saturation of science fiction movies. In reality, there is no evidence of robots taking over society or going on homicidal streaks!

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was the tipping point for me. Not even the best business contingency plans could have accounted for a global-scale lockdown! I had already been thinking deeply about the inefficiencies and communication lapses within the architecture industry at large, and the lockdown really threw these concerns into sharper relief. It made me reassess how I wanted to move forward. I started thinking very critically about how these inefficiencies could be eliminated with the proper technologies and documentation processes. The pandemic gave me the push I needed to establish a new-age architecture studio, where I could be free to make investments in forward-thinking technologies and push the envelope of design.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Partnerships and deployments with major leaders will be critical for getting these new technologies adopted on a larger scale. As industry influencers begin to utilize our solutions, it will instill a lot of trust throughout the industry at large. These kinds of partnerships will validate everything that we are doing and talking about.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Our goal is to spread the word on an international scale. We are working to achieve this goal through a variety of tactics including media interviews (like this one!), social media, and word of mouth. We’ve even engaged a public relations firm in New York City to help us expand our message in markets outside of the Middle East. The more people we can start to engage with this kind of thinking, the more influence we can have on our industry.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am most grateful to my father for introducing me to the field, and for guiding me in my professional journey. He always taught me to measure myself against client success. There’s a popular saying in India that “the client is king,” and I try to follow this outlook. If a client is satisfied with your work, then your success is guaranteed. This panned out really well for us in one of our projects, Anichi Resort & Spa in Dominica. We had a first-time client and when we had started working on the project, it wasn’t a Marriott International’s Autograph Collection hotel yet. Because of our undeterred resolve to create the best and most intuitive experiences for the end users while working with the client’s vision, the project became an Autograph Collection hotel and is currently under construction.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I was one of the first five people in Dubai to practice green architecture, and this is a key component of my design philosophy. As I mentioned before, by adopting new technologies that will facilitate more efficient building practices and resource utilization, Prasoon Design Studio is helping the industry to become more sustainable.

Beyond this, I believe that design itself has a transformative power to bring goodness to the world. From luxury resorts to gleaming skyscrapers, our designs are a vehicle for storytelling. They create cherished experiences by shaping bonds between memory and space.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. As the area of our knowledge grows, so does the perimeter of our ignorance.

The biggest setback I experienced was during my tenure as Director of Arkiplan International, a global architecture firm, when we decided to take our international practice to the Southeast Asia market during the 2009–10 economic meltdown. We made decisions based on our gut feeling instead of data, which cost us dearly and impacted the overall business.

2. When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.

In life, we are always choosing, and our choices determine where we go. I always tell my colleagues that not every opportunity in life is meant to be taken. My decisions are driven not by fear of missing out but are carefully selected in all aspects of my business and my personal life.

3. Uncertainty is the only certainty in life.

We live in a complex world of interdependent ecosystems and often have to depend on so many unknown factors. No matter how many business plans we make or strategies we deploy to achieve our goal, the journey is full of surprises and we have to keep adjusting. COVID-19 is one recent example of how timely maneuvers and strategy changes enabled us to overcome challenges.

4. Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.

At the age of 26, I decided to set up a business in Dubai while practicing in a small town in India. I was told that this was overly ambitious and that I was living in a fool’s paradise, which did discourage me a bit. It worked out just fine with hard work and a bit of luck!

5. krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛiti-vibhramaḥ

smṛiti-bhranśhād buddhi-nāśho buddhi-nāśhāt praṇaśhyati

Translation: Anger leads to clouding of judgment, which results in bewilderment of the memory. When the memory is bewildered, the intellect gets destroyed; and when the intellect is destroyed, one is ruined.

I have learned through experience that I make my best decisions when my mind is calm and not agitated. If I make an impaired decision, it can snowball and impact others, and can even have financial impacts on projects and business. In 2006, one of my mentors told me that whenever you have an issue that agitates you, sleep on it and take another look at it the following morning. This has helped me a great deal in my decision-making throughout my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want to inspire a mindfulness movement. Mindfulness relates to how we consume as businesses and as individuals, and how we view the world in general. Whether in the process of designing a building or within our personal lives, being more mindful about our choices can only have a positive impact. Too often we are on autopilot and forget to truly analyze our impact on the world around us.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I often think back to Michael Gerber’s book, The E Myth Revisited, in which he highlights a fatal assumption: “If you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does technical work.” Having the technical skills necessary to a certain industry does not automatically make you a good businessperson, and on the flip side, many great businesspeople are not highly skilled in technical matters. This has been a very interesting duality to explore as I work to translate my experience in architecture into running my own business.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

If I had 60 seconds with a VC, I would highlight all of the benefits that Zepth, our intelligent project management system, can bring to the industry. If we can get other studios and firms to adopt our systems, we can start to bring about large-scale change. Zepth uses artificial intelligence to fully streamline all aspects of a project lifecycle, integrating input from all team members from architects to engineers to contractors. With this system, we can enable greater efficiency and sustainability in the industry. Let’s change the world together!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.