From the northeastern region of the country to the more ‘mainland India’ and back from there to ultimately settle down in the place where his home- and heart- lies, the identity of Bobee Elangbam has been one fluid metaphor in representation.
Hailing from Kwakeithel Moirang Purel Leika in Manipur and standing proudly for this name in both regional and national recognition is this young interior designer whose penchant for interior design has earned him numerous accolades. For all his excellence in the craft that he practices and pursues in ultimate professionalism, it however would be serendipitous almost a realisation for the still 30 something designer to assume his present identity of both artistry and fame.
A graduate in Business Management, it would be the reaps out of this academic degree that would provide an outlet for his innate creativity to find a free flowing expression. It was during his stint with Euro Woods India Pvt Ltd as trainee manager that Elangbam was rendered the chance to get acquainted with the professional world of a certain character of what was always accounted for in his interests. After all, his mother Maisnam Ranabai had always been a ‘creative homemaker’, something that a young Bobee found himself quite fascinated with even when he could not really pinpoint that emotion at the time. But all’s well that ends well and while Elangbam is nowhere near the end indeed of his already accomplished career, it is very gratifying a doing of his destiny that led him to explore the nuances of what he always had a knack for.
Trained and moulded as a professional sketch planner and building designer, even as he gained operational expertise on wood products while working under his profile at Euro Woods, Bobee Elangbam went on to study Creative Designing and Construction and made the professional plunge in quite some ambitiousness. Building upon his on-work experience that saw him amass a range of skills that only helped train further his existing eye for design, Bobee found himself dynamically conversant about the many elements of what constitutes the exciting and innovative world of design.
The specialised know-how that he acquired on wood materials, acoustics, terrace gardening as well as the materials and methods of green construction led him to develop a greater interest in sustainable design. The concept was still a novelty in the country and more so in the north eastern part of India back then but Elangbam was convinced enough about his own sensibilities of design to set out in opening his own firm with no backing whatsoever. Wooden Interior Solution was born at Bangalore in 2011, some three years after he made his professional debut as a management graduate. A very ‘personal’ venture that performed from his residence with also a limited capital accounted for by himself, this little step that Bobee dared to take has reaped such dividends that now accounts for the larger part of his identity.
Within the span of a couple of years, Wooden Interior Solution had already acquired a second- but somewhat more native perhaps home in Imphal. The journey might seem as one of effortless treading but like any other story that finds scripting through numerous hurdles, the tale of Bobee Elangbam too would be one similarly etched in struggle. He was back in his home place by 2012 itself with a specific aim to gain some local support- a move that almost backfired for him. For when he had made the decision to return to his roots more than a decade earlier, the interior designing scene in the state had been almost non-existent. The specific niche of what he catered in envisioning green, sustainable designs for building environment friendly structures only made the pursuit more futile as everything from a lack of awareness to the absence of infrastructure conspired to curate for Elangbam an environment of great difficulty.
He was almost on the verge of quitting when luck finally favored all his doings of hard work and his efforts made Elangbam lay claim to The Start-Up Manipur loan in 2018. That had been a year of remarkableness indeed for Bobee who found himself bestowed with India’s most prominent architect and design awards 2018 for the Best Interior Designer Firm in North East India by Merit Award and Market Research. The very next year also saw him accorded more ‘national’ a glory with India’s most prominent architect and design awards for the Best Interior Designer in East India Region occurring to step up his professional identity one step further.
It however was never a case of limitation as accruing from his own sensibilities as even when he had not quite achieved commercial success, the designer had still managed to find nomination as the NDTV Design and Architect of the year 2014. That speaks volumes about the refinedness of his designing style and aesthetics that derives directly from his interest in arts and woods- a trait once again inherited by Bobee, this time upon the well known identity of his maternal grandfather as a woodcraft artist. To say then that sustainability had always been embedded in the conscience of Elangbam parallel to an inherent love for design itself is but summing up in entirety the essence of his traditionally modern musings.
He finds resonance today as a certifies facade designer and interior designer and the compendium of his works speaks volumes about the distinction that adheres to his current identity. It indeed has been a validation of the uniqueness that Elangbam necessarily flaunts as part of his style- which he would rather describe as a philosophy in designing essentially simple structures of affording such views that assert as pleasing, that his very first personal interior project had been a contract project delivered for Mysore Tourism Department. At the Mysore Palace Ground auditorium the artistic deftness of Bobee Elangbam finds impeccable expression as it does in several other spaces of both living and vibing existence, testifying for him the versatility built through years of experience and setbacks.
It also would be a testament of his character essentially steeped in sustainability being the virtue he embodies that has manifested through this decade long dabbling in local materials as far as possible. That means delving deep into the pride of his belonging to a part of Indian known for coexisting in harmony with nature such that has spurred and stirred countless such souls and spirits of ethicality. Not that he needs any supplementary reason to emerge as even prouder a northeasterner but the very fact that the roots of his origin are inextricably interweaved as well with the strands of a passion he lives through makes indeed Bobee Elangbam emerge as a Manipuri prouder than ever.
It has helped the cause of this designer forever on the lookout to build and design with sustainable materials that the most of the traditional techniques and elements of architecture tend to be essentially natural and renewable as well. Not to mention the costs which are significantly cut in their easy availability and Elangbam has found himself increasingly assured about the practicality of beliefs that he harbours. Wood indeed is one of his most cherished ‘muses’ that he has extensively worked with and in all considerations of design, be it flooring or cladding or even accentuating and what not.
The ethics of greenness finding foremost consideration in the works of Bobee Elangbam have also found recognition. Awarded India’s Most Prominent Architect and Design Awards 2022 for the Best Green Interior Concept Designer in India, there would also be a greater intent in such character of what arises as the only domain that he has ever known. For even in his all conscious thrust on design and building, he ultimately envisions for his homeland of Manipur an identity that meanders beyond the reputation of beauty. The resourcefulness that he intends to make the state more representative of has already been a work in action backed by personal undertaking. A bamboo and wood chemical seasoning plan of medium scale forms part of the setup, even as he envisages a dream project of establishing a medium size wooden flooring manufacturing industry in this part of the country as an intent in both sustainable and economic attaining.
Of course this exclusive commitment in nurturing environmental consciousness finds such courses of proceeding that tallies to the exact demands of Elongbam’s clients. Meeting exactly the aesthetic and structural requirements of every project worked out well within the stipulated budget is what the interior designer has always done justice to. The designs of his occurring assert as contemporary in their minimalism even when there emanates from them a definite spirit of both the ethnical and the ethical. His inspirations also are as diversely dictated, and that which seamlessly blends one into the other such that what emerges is a sensation in all inclusiveness, something of much universality that explains therefore their universal appeal.
Nature indeed is the most favorite of his tracts to meander and explore even as artistic expressions of musical flowing and even his own projects serve as the foundation upon which his designs come to assume a dramatic life of their own. The places of his living and their history as well as personal memories and moments of childhood too nurtures and fans the concreteness of his doings. But what would be the most amalgamative of all such influences would be also the ways he freely derives and draws upon the work of other interior designers by incorporating the beauties of them to override his own flaws and faults. What else does one need to emerge as a true artist indeed, over this assurance that they have of themselves in such clarity that the excellence of their fellow others do not intimidate their own identity but instead inspires them to work harder and do better their own creations?
For this self constructed doyen of designing who assumes the physical identity of Bobee Elangbam, each of the sensibilities that he pursues as part of his residing in the delightful but demanding domains of art are only an extension of his self, or rather the essence of it. In the compress clay walls and wooden furniture of what he has lead to find space even in the most amenitised of modern places that buzz in the spirit of sustainability and that has earned him his most recent accolade, Bobee Elangbam makes sure that he indulges his core spirit in living for the most exotic emotions of what can be inspired only by the extents of the wilderness .