SHALINI PEREIRA: DO WHAT YOU LOVE, DO IT WELL AND EVENTUALLY PEOPLE WILL NOTICE IT
It was in October 2013, when I came across this young interior designer’s work and called her to discuss about some of her projects then. A vibrant hello from the other side was enough to envision a woman who is chirpy, strong, spearheaded, arty and knows her domain really well.
Over a five minutes call, I got to know how architectural drawings fascinated the one who holds masters in design innovation from DeMontfort University, UK. Someone who would imagine herself as an architect sketching and felt like a small fish in a very big sea of sharks is now a name to reckon with in the interior and architectural industry. From learning the basics while working with DGA (Dipen Gada & Associates) in Baroda, Gujarat to forming her own interior design consultancy firm, SPDA (Shalini Pereira Design Associates), in Gurugram, NCR in 2010,SHALINI PEREIRA, has proved that she truly lives by her motto, ‘Do what you love, do it well and eventually people will notice it.’
As REEL to REAL celebrates and salutes womanhood and the existence of powerful women making their mark in the society, the founder and principal designer of SPDA shares with Trisha Mahajan her journey as an interior designer, key projects namely a 2,300 sq. ft. apartment that was designed as a bachelor’s pad in Gurugram and a 1,400 sq. ft. apartment for a family of four in Dwarka, New Delhi, interesting anecdotes and her plans for the future. Excerpts from the interview….
INSPIRATION AND LOVE FOR
I am inspired by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van de Rohe as well as the furniture works, especially the Eames chair by Charles and Ray Eames and the Barcelona day bed by Mies van der Rohe. I am also inspired by Zaha Hadid, for the inspiration she has given to women in design and architecture.
BIT BY THE INTERIOR DESIGN BUG
I was always inclined towards the creative line of work. Whenever I would look at drawings and sketches of my cousin and uncle, who were into architecture and civil engineering fields respectively, I would imagine myself as an architect making those drawings. As I grew older, fashion industry attracted me and it was then, I owned a fashion magazine. I would spend hours making sketches of outfits and would try my hands on magazine covers. It was in high school, when I finally realised, that it was the built environment, specifically interior design that fascinated me. The idea that you could transform a space that was already built into something totally different, that you could give it a character, was a high that I couldn’t get enough of.
MUST HAVE ATTRIBUTES IN INTERIOR DESIGN WORK
Art work, plants, a little splash of colour and use of wood.
A CAREER INTO INTERIOR DESIGNING
After completing my graduation, I started working with DGA (Dipen Gada & Associates) in Baroda, Gujarat in 2004. Working as a designer, I had learnt the design process starting from designing to project management to leading a team of designers. Working till 2005 at DGA, I rejoined the firm, post my masters. As I started to grow in confidence as a designer, I started taking small projects on my own. It was then, when I moved to Gurugram after getting married, I finally decided to form my interior design consultancy firm, SPDA (Shalini Pereira Design Associates) in 2010. It was formed with the core values of creating interiors that are high on quality, bespoke, contemporary and are structured keeping in mind the international design sensibilities. At SPDA, our versatility is our strength and this allows us to produce projects varying in nature, starting from modern and minimal to contemporary and classical yet keeping everything state-of-the-art. For us, ‘Less is more’ and this is reflected in our efforts towards delivering spaces which are luxe in design and offers spatial experience to the end user.
INTERIOR DESIGNING STRATEGIES
-Be true to your design aesthetics; even if, it means losing a project where a client wants you to make a design which is against your design philosophy.
– I like to understand what a client’s taste is before taking on a project. I take on a project, only if, their tastes align with my design aesthetic. It saves a lot of pain later on down the line.
– Spend a lot of time on the site because it can give you a lot of inspiration for a design.
– Try to keep your word when it comes to deadlines and timelines.
FACING THE ODDS
The biggest challenge in front of me was to start a firm immediately after moving to a new city, especially a city that was quite different from Gujarat. It took me time to understand and also appreciate the differences in attitudes as well as the clients’ tastes. Visibility was another factor. In Baroda, I was a known name. People knew the firm I was working with. But in Gurugram, I felt like a small fish in a very big sea of sharks. Initially, I started working from home and would take only one or two projects a year, which were mostly labours of love rather than profit making ventures. I followed a simple motto, ‘Do what you love, do it well and eventually people will notice it.’ With time, things changed and with each successfully completed project and every satisfied customer our visibility increased and this led to increase in the client list. It’s been over two years since the SPDA office has grown from a team of two to a team of four designers and one associate designer. There are also plans to expand the office space by next year.
LOOPHOLES IN THE INTERIOR DESIGN INDUSTRY
One of the biggest loopholes the industry has in NCR is to explain to the prospective clients what a design consultant actually is. Most of the clients who approach us, consider design consultants as draftsperson or 3-D designers. Explaining them the importance and the role of a design consultant throughout the execution process is one of the hardest and the most frustrating things. Another issue is the effect of Pinterest. As a designer, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it because it’s a great way to draw inspiration, get an understanding of what current trends are and also unwind. But, on the other hand, it makes our lives as designers really frustrating when clients think they have become designers because of the amount of easily available design ideas.
PROJECTS PAR EXCELLENCE
Two of my most favourite projects are a 2,300 sq. ft. apartment that was designed as a bachelors pad in Gurugram and a 1,400 sq. ft. apartment for a family of four in Dwarka, New Delhi. The clients gave us a free hand in designing and that gave us an opportunity to experiment and try different things.
INTERIOR DESIGNING FOR PERSONALITIES
If given a chance, I would like to do the interiors for maybe Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Deepika has a sense of modern restrained elegance and with Ranveer, there would be an element of crazy over the top that would make the design pop and come alive.
ADVICE TO BUDDING DESIGNERS
-Don’t get into interior design for money. It’s a long haul journey on economy class!
-You should only pick it as a career, if you are truly passionate about design, because it is not as glamorous as it is made out to be. The work is hard, often involving standing on site for hours at a time, under grueling conditions.
-When you look for a firm, that you want to join as a fresher, choose a firm that has a similar sense of design aesthetic, else it will lead to a lot of frustration and questioning yourself as a designer.
-Always look to grow as a designer. Don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable. Do things that scare you a little and excite you a lot.
We plan to expand our office into a larger space and would also like to expand into furniture design, so that we can offer a more end-to-end solution to our clients. I would like to make SPDA a multi-disciplinary design consultancy firm – one that offers landscaping solutions, furniture solutions and perhaps even a bit of product design.
FOR ANY QUERIES, CONTACT:
Founder and Principal Designer
SPDA (Shalini Pereira Design Associates)
A – 137, Unitech Arcadia, South City 2,
Sector – 49, Gurugram – 122018
Call – 0124 4859158
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/spda_design/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/spda.in/
Website – www.spda.in