"Good day, Nik. We are excited to know more about Muslim artisan, Islamic Art and Architectures. Please introduce yourself particularly on your entrepreneurship journey in establishing I-Nai Venture Holdings"
/Well, I started working on Kuala Lumpur City Center Development and particularly Petronas Twin Tower Project. I further developed strong interest in Islamic Architecture as I saw that the idea was not just about direct interpretation of what was known or related to most people (as Islamic design via its physical component like just arches, domes and geometric patterns)-Overall, beyond that symbolism.
I was directly involved from the drawing board right to its erection on the ground when I was assigned to work with Ceaser Pelli in New Haven (the architect behind the Petronas Twin Tower Project). Starting from the plan based on two rotated squares which was synonymous to Islamic geometry and the evolution of design ideas as it matured into fine masterpiece (which could proudly be claimed islamic with a strong Malaysian identity within the modern context).
The then Prime Minister who was the brain-child of the project had also recommended the project team to rope in fine master craftsmen from Uzbekistan to work on the twin tower lobby, Philharmonic Orchestra Hall and Masjid Asyakirin within the KLCC Development. This direction had also proven that the uniqueness of the project was also contributed by the clever blending of traditional Malay and Islamic design in contemporary structures.
It was a new perspective indeed as the project created opportunity for traditional Islamic art and architecture to evolve further with the incorporation of new materials and technologies without even losing its philosophy.
With that rooted in his mind, I-NAI Venture Holdings Sdn Bhd successfully incorporated in 1999 when I resigned as Head of Design Department after seeing the almost completed twin tower project.
I brought along some of the fine master craftsmen who was involved in the project to focus on my new venture. came up with a powerful tagline ’To Revive and Evolve the past glory of Islamic Arts and Architecture’ and has been carrying the same until now.
"Architecture is deemed sophisticated profession; how do you manage to establish the unique proposition for I-Nai? How did you find the inspiration and what actually motivates you going into architecture fields?"
/Evidence of any civilization and its historical timeline lies on its built environment, among others. Empire after empire we could see destruction of monumental evidences to show strength and power of the conqueror happened so rampantly. Likewise, during post war in modern times, we see the displacement of destroyed architectural monuments (caused by indiscreet bombing) to simple building blocks due to urgency in accommodating the people like community housing and public buildings (like schools, offices and other facilities).
All the development during each era depicts different architectural style that one can relate its identity easily as it reflects the culture, religion, lifestyle and the needs at that time during that particular era. Whatever evidence of might by the predecessor will just be wiped out and to the extreme of fabricating or downplay their history in order for the new conqueror to maintain its rule and stay in power.
Islamic art and architecture is universal as it deals with balance, harmony and unity of all its architectural elements. At the end of the day it actually revolve around love, beauty, peace and unity.
The evidence of the lost tribes and kingdom as described in the quran with some has already been unearthed over the many years after its existence, showcased the civilization that happened many centuries ago. The works by the constructor and artisan is amazing considering the absence of technology then.
The Saba, Aadh, Thamud tribes etc has built nothing short of awe and jaw dropping buildings by the look at the scale. magnitude and finesse of what they did during their time.
All these observations allow us to differentiate the show of egoism, pride and arrogance and thus our belief that art and architecture is not just about the physical aspects of the built environment and its adornment but the values it carries in transforming the societies at large. It also reflects the level of achievement and complexity of the society at that particular time.
Our works must play a role in establishing a strong relationship between Man and God (HablunMinnallah) Man and Man (HablunMinannas) and Man and Nature (Hablun Minalalam) and thus the solid concurrence of our vision that whatever we do is about Love, Beauty, Peace and Unity. Most importantly our ideas and intent must give positive values both from aesthetical aspects but also the meaningful messages which we wanted to convey through our works directly or indirectly.
When everything gets bigger then it leads to the need to ensure focus and specialization. Likewise in Arts and Architecture as the subject goes big than the obvious trend is the need to expand and break into new variants. From just the basic laymen’s understanding of classical architectural segmentation defined by race, state and religion like Greek Architecture, Roman Architecture, Byzantine Architecture and even Malay, Chinese and Indian Architecture and some just differentiated by the religion ie Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic etc which is so obvious by the Architectural styling of their religious buildings with a distinct styles and ornamentation which we can associate and identify very clearly.
As in the case of Islamic art and architectural style, it is not a new variant but rather the already established ideas and philosophies that seek to stay valid and even, becoming stronger and prominent in this modern age as well as the future. It is universal and holistic.
"Islamic Art and Architecture are something niche when it was related to buildings. Kindly walk us through the specific elements and aspects of Islamic Art and Architecture."
/Our product and services maintained the branding as Islamic right from beginning of our establishment. We do not see from the religion perspectives but rather from its universal and the positive values it can bring to the mankind.
Yes, we can say that our products and services are niche but when we held tight to our powerful message about Love, Beauty, Peace and Unity which applied to all mankind’s dire need regardless of race culture and religion.
If we look further into the finer elements like the geometric, floral and even calligraphic motifs that represents our physical masterpiece. Everything about them tells about the uniqueness of the creation (Man and the universe) and all its content) and the Greatness of the Creator.
Being consistent with our philosophy makes us and our works stand out. Most of our masterpiece has become iconic and recognizable future heritage. Our works will open the path for coming generation to evolve the Islamic art and architecture further.
"I-Nai has become the leading brand in the niche industry. Please share with us the Top Five projects being the most recognized portfolios to-date."
/To the company’s credits, a lot of prestigious projects were undertaken successfully and will obviously become the future heritage and will also be one of the icons to depict the strong Malaysian Identity in built environment. Among the prominent ones are the palaces projects-Istana Alam Shah, Istana Syarqqiah Terengganu, Istana Melawati and Istana Negara, Refurbishment of Parliament House, State Administrative Complex Nusajaya, Palace of Justice in Putrajaya and many more.
"Entrepreneurship is all about determination towards establishing successful venture. How do you define entrepreneurship? What are the useful advice for the younger generations?"
/About entrepreneurship, when our mindset Is sturdy and solid, we will never get swayed along the way. Over more than 20 years, I have run the business and after going through the ups and downs and all sort of challenges, I am always persevere and remained steadfast and in fact become even stronger.
I have never put money as top priority but God willing and with all the Spectacular values I have adopted, I believe I will be rewarded handsomely anyhow. My goals remain unchanged ie TO REVIVE AND EVOLVE THE PAST GLORY OF ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE and obviously to make this world a beautiful and peaceful place to live in.
Basically, when our goals are clear, nothing can really come into our way and upset our strong determination to achieve it. Positive thinking, eliminating prejudices, great team support and relationship, powerful vision and willingness to sacrifice for better future are definitely the recipe for good entrepreneurship.
Advice to I-NAI’s successor and young generation is to remain focus in whatever we have ventured once the goal setting is done. Anyway, the vision for muslim extends beyond the worldly achievement. Brave through come what may as the challenges are in actual fact a good part of moving on. Just remember that failure is actually the beginning of success. Learn from the past mistakes and achievement and keep moving forward with improvements guided by the truth.