Gian was born in July 1958 in Nairobi, East Africa, and came to London in January 1966. He grew up in the East End of London and did all of his early formal education there. He went to Thames Polytechnic (now Greenwich University) to study architecture in 1978 and completed his post-graduate studies in architecture at Central Polytechnic (now Westminster University ) which he completed in 1985. Between his graduate degree and post-graduate qualifications, he worked as a Part One architectural student for the Tooley & Foster Partnership in Buckhurst Hill ( https://www.tooleyfoster.com/ ), a practice first set up in 1892 by Herbert Tooley as a sole practitioner. Rex Foster joined the practice as an apprentice in 1900 and in 1910, he was asked to become a partner when the practice was renamed as Tooley & Foster.
Having completed a year as a Part One student, Gian left the practice and with a number of his college friends (all budding architects), went to Cyprus in an attempt to draw and sell landscapes, before moving onto another place with the intent to make this a year long project before resuming his studies. Gian was involved in two exhibitions of landscapes of local Cypriot villages. The first exhibition included a limited number of drawings and painting prepared by ‘the group of friends’ to ‘test the waters and local interest’. The second exhibition was more organised and only contained works prepared by Gian and a fellow architectural student, each producing 25 drawings and paintings. Although this exhibition was much more successful than the first, the number of drawings sold were insufficient to warrant moving to another place to restart the process. Therefore, in December 1982, just before Xmas, the two friends returned to England and Gian managed to get a job back at The Tooley & Foster Partnership at the start of 1983, before resuming his post-graduate diploma in September the same year.
In September 1985, Gian returned to The Tooley & Foster Partnership as a post-graduate student, but on a more permanent contract in order to complete his Part Three professional examinations to become a fully qualified architect, which he did by the close of 1987. At the start of 1988, Gian was made an Associate of the practice and became a Partner in 1995. He took early retirement in December 2018.
During his 35 years (including two years as a Part One student) at The Tooley & Foster Partnership, Gian worked on a wide variety of sectors including, commercial (including high end office buildings and interiors), private and affordable housing, care and extra-care schemes, educational, industrial, religious projects and mixed use developments of retail, offices and residential accommodation. During the last few years, he worked on a number of high-quality refurbishment projects changing existing offices into residential for Verve Properties Ltd based in the West End of London ( http://www.verve-properties.co.uk ). Specifically, two projects were demanding and completed successfully. Hunts Paper Factory in Fulham that was converted from small office suits into 34 warehouse-style apartments with industrial features, and The Market Building in Brentford, which also converted small office units into 44 bright studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments that included a new penthouse extension containing 8 penthouse flats.
Drawing and painting landscapes and townscapes became an early interest with Gian through his architectural training, including sketches prepared on many holiday destinations in Greece, Spain, Cyprus and India. More recently, the landscape works have stopped with his interest in life drawing and portraiture taking centre stage.
His interest in Life drawing and painting started in the first year at architectural school where life drawing was a mandatory part of the course. He continued to attend classes during the remainder of the Part One course and then evening life classes when he started work full time. Although there have been gaps when he did not attend any classes, in the last 7 years he has attended regular Wednesday evening classes. Since his retirement, he has joined a further class on Fridays where the structure of the class allows him to work on longer finished pieces in mixed media, watercolour and oil pastels.
Portraiture has been another life long interest which he has been doing ever since he was a young child, mimicking and watching his two older brothers, who are both accomplished graphic designers and story board artists. In 2017, Gian undertook a year-long project to produce 125 portraits to coincide with The Tooley & Foster Partnership’s 125th anniversary. The project was linked to a charity fund raiser for Histio UK ( https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gian-kundi ), a charity dedicated to finding cures for rare blood deceases, one of which had affected the life of a close friend and business partner who spent more than a year in hospital, most of it in a coma. Thank goodness he survived and returned to work. The 125 portrait challenge was set up asking people to donate cash for the charity in exchange for a portrait of their choice. The challenge was to complete at least 5 portraits every two weeks during the course of the year which was tough bearing in mind that Gian still had a ‘day-job’! The 125th portrait was completed on New Year’s Eve (last day), 2017 and was a portrait of Bob Dylan in 1966 drawn in black Bic biro and prepared in the memory of a school teacher who had been part of Gian’s secondary education and remained a good friend until he passed away.