Running your own business isn’t a walk in the park – but these young entrepreneurs sure make it look like a cinch!
Four young entrepreneurs, four very different businesses, and four equally different approaches to running their ventures. From setting up design studios to retail stores and more, these inspiring youngsters have certainly caught Chennai’s (and our) eye. We sat down with four of Chennai’s fledgling yet successful entrepreneurs and delved deep into how their ventures came to be, while staying ever-resilient through the pandemic.
Text: SIDDHARTH KUMAR
Modernism That’s Rooted In Tradition
Principal Architect and Designer at Faisal Manzur Design Studio (FMDS), the core work ethic Faisal Manzur implements in his designs, is the art of telling a riveting and compelling story. Having successfully bridged the gap between modernism and traditional culture-focused sensibilities, Faisal opens up in this interview about his stylistic choices, influences and more.
Could you tell us a little more about how the Faisal Manzur Design Studio (FMDS) became a reality?
I am the Principal Architect at Faisal Manzur Design Studio (FMDS). The studio was started two and half years ago, with the primary aim being to help narrate my story of “Traditionalising the Modern”.
Let’s talk about your early influences – what made you choose the architecture space as a longterm career choice?
The concept of design has always been an integral part of my life and I’ve found that I have always gravitated towards architecture and interior design space. I would incessantly notice buildings and analyse how everything was detailed subconsciously. While growing up, I would excitedly watch every stage of a building at a construction site, while keeping a close eye on each detail and progress. Then there would be times when I would enter my friends’ or families’ homes and essentially recalibrate every corner. This was the turning point of my love for design, and I leveraged that passion for making a career out of it.
Any particular person or design firm that caught your fancy as a young architecture enthusiast?
Those who know me best will know that my favourite designers include Sabyasachi, Andre Mellon, Studio Jencquel, Ernesto Bedmar and of course, the ‘OG’ of all designers – Geffrey Bawa. My inherent appreciation for design also comes from my mother, Triveni Manzur. She moved to Chennai to pursue art, and I have grown up watching her sketch and paint with different textures and colours.
Any key takeaways that you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Apart from the love for design, one needs incredible grit and gumption to run a successful practice. Design is perceived to be a frothy space to be in, but it’s pretty consuming, and you need to constantly remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. The Achilles heel in architecture is your relationship with your client, which is set in motion the minute you have your first interaction. So, I’d say client-designer interactions are crucial when it comes to the field of architecture and design.
Are there any particular places that stand out to you in terms of architectural influences?
Town Planning and Development by Le Corbusier would be on the top of my list.
Could you tell us a little more about your long-standing connection with Chennai?
My design aesthetics draw inspiration from South India and more so from various interior regions of Tamil Nadu. My upbringing in Chennai has taught me to respect the different cultural nuances from across the state, which reflects in the work I do. What’s more, my design choices reflect the position of local artisans and craftsmen, along with the use of locally sourced materials that respect the environment that they come from.
As a creator and envisioner, do you prefer modern architectural choices over more traditional sensibilities?
For me, I do not see ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ as mutually exclusive, rather I feel the two behave in perfect synchrony. As an architect and designer, I am constantly trying to discover how my design can weave Indian traditionalism into the fabric of modern India.
How would you sum up your architectural style/approach and what’s in store for the near future?
I generally prefer curating projects within the niche space I’ve carved out for myself. Besides this, I’d like to tap into the product and furniture space, as I’m constantly trying to bring innovative ideas to my projects.
How has the pandemic affected your business so far and what steps have you taken to curb the effects it has had on your business?
The forced time off I received played to my advantage as I had the time to reflect and hone my skills. I could develop many details that I may not have considered if it weren’t for the pandemic situation. I’ve also consciously tried to keep my team working through the pandemic to the best of my ability, instead of reduced remuneration or deployment of minimal staff. We have strived to keep this going through the last few months, and this has, in turn, created more opportunities for my team and me.