A table and chair might be mere furniture and yellow, blue and green may be just colours for many but for Sadhana Srinivasan they are her tools using which she tells the story of a house.
“My mother told me that I should always keep myself busy,” shares Sadhana Srinivasan as she looks back at how it all started. “It was with this advice that I decided to design the interiors of my house,” adds Sadhana. Who would have guessed that a piece of advice would lead Sadhana to become a well-known interior designer in South India?
Sadhana, who graduated from Ethiraj College with a Master’s degree in English Literature, had an enthrallment about colours and designs. An amateur in the field, initially Sadhana decided to begin her journey from home. Impressed with her work, Sadhana started getting offers from family and friends to redesign their houses. “I slowly started getting projects. My relatives started recommending me to their friends and friends started recommending my work to their families. And through it all, I kept growing and gaining experience,” Sadhana says. Though she started gaining experience, she confesses that she hadn’t charged a single rupee for the work she did. “I know that I did a foolish thing in the beginning but I was very passionate about what I was doing that payment hardly mattered,” Sadhana says.
Sadhana got married and started a family soon but this did not stop her from pursuing her passion. “My husband has been very supportive of my career. He knows how devoted I am to my profession and is my pillar of strength. Balancing my personal and professional life has been very challenging but I’ve managed to sail through. There have been times when juggling both roles has been very hard but my family made it easy,” Sadhana says.
As projects fell into her kitty, Sadhana reached great heights. Soon enough she landed a project which would admittedly become the biggest turn of her life – a a chance to redesign the house of Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former finance minister P Chidambaram. “Nalini Chidambaram has been a family friend for many years. Her grandmother and my grandmother have been friends, as were her mother and my mother and so on. She has seen me since my childhood and knows about my passion for interior designing. Redesigning her house was the biggest turning point in my life,” Sadhana says.
Before setting foot into the corporate world, Sadhana wanted to learn everything about the profession. “I wanted to get into the number one college in the world to learn about the field. After surfing the internet, I decided to join Inchbald School of Design, London in 2004. The funny part was that my son was also entering college and he also studied in the UK so we would fly in and out together. At Inchbald, I completed my Bachelor’s in Interior Design and went on to do my Master’s in the same college where I was the gold medalist of my batch,” Sadhana shares.
After completing her education for the second time, Sadhana returned home and decided to start Neeras, an interior design studio. “Neeras is my grandmother’s dream. She believed in me and knew I had the potential to make it big. So I decided to name the studio after her. Neeras is a combination of three names – Nee from Neela, my grandmother’s name; Ra from the name of my grandfather, Mr. CA Ramakrishnan, former chief secretary to the government of Tamil Nadu and S from Sadhana,” she shares.
Neeras came into existence in April 2013. It was inaugurated on the occasion of Sadhana’s birthday, 17 April. “What’s more auspicious than one’s own birthday?” Sadhana adds. As soon as the studio launched, clients poured in and Sadhana climbed the ladder of corporate success. She has done various apartments in and out of Chennai and also caters to revamping residences, spas, office interiors, bungalows, parlours and hotels.
Sharing her most memorable experience after the launch of Neeras, Sadhana recalls redesigning the interiors of a city-based advocate. “This client was special because he came to me just three days before his wedding requesting me to redesign the house to welcome the new bride home. A job that required at least a month was targeted to be completed within three days. The challenge was tough but we managed to complete it. We used a lot of beige and brown colour combinations to the house. By the time we completed, I was seen decorating the house with flowers and drawing a kolam! Of course, it wasn’t a part of my job but I did it anyway. The family was so touched by my personal involvement that they started considering me as one of their own. At the wedding reception, they were introducing me to guests like I was a member of the family,” Sadhana shares. “I couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my team,” she adds. Sadhana’s team is divided into various departments, and comprises specialists who do not interfere into other departments. The team knows her working style and makes it a point to execute their individual responsibilities to perfection. “I am a perfectionist and a tough taskmaster. My team knows that. If I do not like a particular work, for example the way the wall is painted, I make it a point to redo everything from the start,” Sadhana says.
Gazing into the future, Sadhana looks at expanding and taking up projects all over the country. After which, she wishes to go back to serving clients in London. “People have already started recognising me by my brand name; it feels good. Someday, I wish to go international with my business and take up projects in London,” Sadhana says. “Everyone comes into the world with a purpose. I want people to remember me, not as someone’s wife, mother or daughter but as someone who did something. I want to leave a mark in society,” concludes Sadhana.