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
Eclectic Design Choices All The Way
A true professional in her own right, Gowri Adappa, Principal Architect and Co-Founder of A Design Co. (ADC), focuses her efforts on architecture and interior design elements of residential, retail, and hospitality oriented spaces. Having built a network of vendors across the country, she tells us about her journey, work ethic and more.
Could you tell us a little more about how the concept of ADC (A Design Co.) became a reality?
A Design Co. (ADC) was founded in 2014 and is now an award-winning Chennai-based design studio. Initiated in collaboration with Nikhith Ashok, the studio provides design consultancy services in architecture and interiors.
Let’s talk about your early influences – what made you choose the architecture and interior design space as a longterm career choice?
I always knew I wanted to design – I may have been too young at the time to be able to put it into words, but as I grew up and started creating within my personal space, I knew that is what I wanted to do. I realized that architecture and design were my calling the minute I started studying, and this was further reinforced when I did some pro bono work during my college course for friends, relatives etc. I was sure I wanted hands-on experience after graduation and worked with a prolific firm in Chennai (NVA) for two years, where I handled a few architecture and interior projects. After two years of working under someone, I wanted to start my practice, but I took a 3-month sabbatical from work and travelled a lot. I then collaborated with my current business partner on a project which was deemed a huge success. This was what prompted me to decide to start my company with him, A Design Co. (ADC), founded in 2014.
Any particular person or design firm that caught your fancy as a young interior design and architecture enthusiast?
Inspiration lies all around us. Whether it’s environments, objects or experiences, the core of my design ethic is taking these experiences and making them visible and tangible for people to use. For instance, when you travel, you soak in all the culture and design around you, which immediately fuels your creativity. I find myself the most productive and invigorated after returning from my travels and designing a space.
Any key takeaways that you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
We are increasingly conscious about how our buildings consume energy and resources and proactively engage with consultants and clients. The practice has also engaged with the larger community and the city through commissioned and self-initiated projects. It has partnered with ITDP India and the Corporation of Chennai on the 722 BRR (the “Pedestrianization Project”). It is currently anchoring an initiative to create a toolkit for citizen-led improvement of neighbourhood parks.
Could you tell us a little more about your connection with Chennai?
I feel that having empathy and being agnostic with your design choices are things we always ought to keep in mind while designing. We create spaces that alter human behavior while having a powerful impact on what is being developed for people to inhabit. Therefore, incorporating humanistic and environmental values at the beginning of a project has a far better chance of survival and aids in sustaining the space’s longevity. We’ve always tried to incorporate our connection with Chennai in terms of materials and labour used, craftsmanship, or stylistic choices – that juxtaposition almost always works.
As a creator and envisioner, do you prefer modern stylistic choices over more traditional sensibilities?
This, I feel, is a question designers are faced with all the time, and I think it’s challenging to articulate your aesthetic in one word, but if I were to pick, I’d say “eclectic”. I love to design spaces with eclectic pieces without necessarily having to pin down a particular period or theme. One must strive to make sure the area looks and feels like it was created over time while lending itself to host other accents the clients would like to see added in at a later point in time.
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?
Like most businesses, we were faced with our fair share of setbacks due to the pandemic. However, we tried to get ahead of the impending lockdown and adapted by implementing working from home at a very early stage. However, the one thing that didn’t change for me is that I found myself designing constantly. From drawing up schemes or glossing over pending details, or analyzing the corners of my own home, I ensured that my mind was occupied and not distracted.