By : wadeindia | 27 May 2018 | TRENDING WADe TOPICS 0 0
Design Journey: Candid sharing by 4 leading designers of India
Everyone has a story to tell, a special journey of their own. Four leading Women Architects & Designers shared their stories, their successes and struggles at WADe Asia 2017 along with tips for young designers and architects. Ar. Sonal Sancheti, Co-Founder,_opolis Architects shared her own story, learning and challenges and beautifully chaired the panel which comprised of Pragati Jain, Pragati Jain & Associates, Indore, Supraja Rao, Design House, Hyderabad & Swanzal Kak Kapoor, SAKA, Gurgaon. We present some of the extracts and key points from the discussion in this issue of SURFACES REPORTER. Please write to us with your queries, questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE JOURNEYS: THE BEGINNINGS & TURNING POINTS
Starting the session with her own special story, Sonal Sancheti shared a moment that changed her life. As a student of CEPT, working on the thesis – Japanese Architecture & its influences on Contemporary Architects, Japanese Architect and Prof. Shimizu had visited as a guest lecturer. Upon learning about her thesis, he insisted her to come to Japan and see the buildings she was studying, “I will take care of everything else,” he said and that’s how Sonal made her first visit to Japan. Prof. Shimizu took care of everything, making sure that she visited all these buildings she was studying and also paid for her six weeks of travel in Japan. For a student to get this kind of an opportunity was very fortunate and also led her to an interview with Mr. Maki that time, as part of her thesis and that was her first interaction with him which later led to a job at his office. Opolis and Maki won the competition for Bihar museum last year and the museum was inaugurated two weeks back. “That one evening when Prof. Shimizu was lecturing at the college, it was pouring heavily and yet we met and discussed, that evening changed my life,” says Sonal.
“I wish Management and Finance were part of our academic courses.” – Sonal Sancheti
Supraja Rao entered into the world of interior designing by sheer chance. She considers herself a destiny’s child and rightly does so. She never studied Interior designing and was preparing to work in the textiles business when a chanced suggestion by a neighbour’s friend, led her to an interview at a furniture design company. This opened her up to the world of design but she was still unsure. Her first break came by chance again, a tile company offered her to design an 8/8 booth at the Inside Outside expressions and she took up the challenge. A current account cheque for her work led to opening of her own company and she had not looked back ever since.
“Self learning new skills was a challenge, but staying focussed helped.” – Supraja Rao
Always inclined towards design, even as a 8 year old Swanzal Kapoor knew that she wanted to be an Architect. Studying Architecture in Gujarat reinforced her belief that she was meant to do that. She initially worked with veteran architects Revathi & Vasant Kamath for two years because craft and the relevance of that has always been something that she felt very deeply about which also moved her in a particular direction. The idea that as architects, we have a responsibility to give back to Ecology and to the cities that we live in and how can we be change makers within the space gave birth to “I Am Gurgaon” bio Diversity Park, which gave her incredible experience of how nature can really re-generate itself.
Even though Pragati Jain came from a conservative Jain society; her family was very supportive, they had realised her creative potential even as a child and let her follow her dreams to study in Mumbai. After her graduation she came back home and started her own studio. She got engaged to be married and her father was worried if her in-laws would allow her to work, so one day he finally managed to ask would be father-in-law, a Principal in a Girls School. His response changed her life, he told her father, “Mein 800 ladkiyon ka bhavishaye bana raha hu, mein unko promote karta hu ki tum paro, aage tak paro, higher education lo. Kya mein apne daughter-in-law ko yeh mana karunga ki tum kam maat karo. (I am creating the future of 800 girls and promote higher education & career. How can I say no to my daughter-in-law?)” There was no looking back ever since.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES
What is not a challenge, says Sonal, everyday there are new design challenges, client challenges, so on and forth but, talking about specific issues other than these, she points out how she wished Architecture Education included a segment on Management and Finance, “I love taking charge though I find this is one of my biggest challenges, running a practice, managing people and managing finances and creative part,” she says. Another gap she points out is the lack of Collaborative Working of firms talking, connecting and working together.
For Pragati, Balancing Professional & Personal Life was challenging, especially after her daughter was born. However, having an immensely supportive mother-in-law made it possible for her. She renovated an old garage into her studio and started working there so she would manage home and work efficiently. There were challenges of working in the field, with vendors, being a lady, it wasn’t easy. A bigger challenge was convincing clients the importance of interior design with only 3-4 interior designers in Indore present in the 90’s, first she had to convince why interior design was important and prove through her creativity.
“I had to convince clients why interior design was important, then prove with my creativity” – Pragati Jain
For Swanzal, Collaboration and understanding each other’s vision in a space is challenging yet important. Being truthful to your vision is key. Self Learning New skills was a major challenge for Supraja since she didn’t have any formal training in a design school and so was handling the family, but staying focused helped in rising and reaching the goal. Also Scaling up was a challenge as it was an important to step up to take bigger projects and not remain static with small project and small team.
“Be open to change and change relentlessly, reinvent yourself every three months”
– Swanzal Kapoor
Supraja learnt how to handle situations and people ingeniously but what keeps her going are the unexpected challenges and situations work that demands an orthodox solutions. Pragati believes that the role of a designer goes beyond and should include spreading design to a larger mass. She wants young designers to innovate responsively and create designs that sensitively encompass energy and resource optimization. “Dont wait for the perfect moment,” says Sonal adding that architects have this thing of waiting for the best site, waiting for the perfect client to come in, perfect project to come in but that’s never going to happen. She also says that everyone has to play multiple roles, be it man or woman, we must try to play them all. She also believes, routine stuns creativity, so one must do something different from time to time. Finding your unique strength and purpose is very important, feels Swanzal. “The talents and skills that we are gifted with and there are ones that we build” she says. She also says that, being open to change and changing relentlessly is crucial, something that she keeps telling her studio team that if you are not a new person every three months you are really wasting your time. Last but not the least, she says, one must nurture their creativity and make a difference in other people’s lives whether it’s heritage, craft, whether it’s education, design, think in the public realm.
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