Asif Khan: Always work with different scales

London-based architect Asif Khan talks about architecture and design that is appropriate for the modern human being.

“Our studio’s approach is to be curious about people’s relationship with materials, nature and, especially, technology,” says architect Asif Khan in this exclusive interview.

“All of our projects have a core ambition which is to move a project beyond where it began,” he says. “We believe there is always more to be discovered; you just need to invest the time and effort.” 

For the 2012 London Olympics, Khan designed a pavilion titled Beatbox for Coca-Cola, which was situated in the Olympic Park. Significantly, his design marked the first time the global brand commissioned an Olympic showcase feature without a single Coke logo on it. The giant crystalline structure was made of 200 interlocked translucent air cushions, each about the size of a billboard. The cushions incorporated audio, lighting and responsive technology that brought an interactive element to the installation. 

The basic idea for the pavilion was to experience architecture through music and music through architecture, says Khan.

He explains that the pavilion made use of a 12-minute long track: “The audio was the equivalent to the amount of time needed to walk through the structure.” The movement of people through the pavilion would set off different musical stings which ultimately allowed visitors to become the conductor of the musical score. 

In 2007 he founded his London-based studio, Asif Khan Ltd, which has since been dedicated to pushing the disciplines of architecture, interior and furniture design into new and unexpected directions. From urban planning and buildings to installations and products, Khan’s studio places emphasis on how design can react to the way in which we live our lives today. 

For Khan there is a real pleasure in having a variety of work and projects on different scales: “It’s the one thing I’m trying to keep going in the practice,” he explains.

If you work on small things, you don’t forget how it feels to touch objects and this is something that affects how you design big things.