Sharmila Lakshman

Associate, Design  M Moser Associates (Interview Part-1)

This extract is from the Best Creators interview with Sharmila Lakshman, expert in the field of architecture and design. Her experiences in the industry have been condensed in this blog, in an attempt to impart wisdom and learning to the entire fraternity.

Sharmila began with an emphasis on the functionality of design. Her deep insights revealed a lot about the way a designer’s mind works. She introduced aesthetics as a fundamental, yet functionality as the core of architecture. With immense experience in creating corporate environments, recreational areas, institutional architecture and more, her 6 years at Aeon were a pivotal aspect of her journey in architecture.

Great design is a holistic approach

“We do corporates, recreational areas, we do institutional areas, so we are into all the areas, it’s not particularly into one segment which is there. It’s a nice experience for all of us actually, and there is no end to learning. The moment you enter into a new project there is a new learning for it and that’s how it is.

Basically, great design is not only about aesthetics. The design has to be complete from all the aspects. It is not important only that the thing which looks good and aesthetically is appealing. It should be functional as well. So, for me design has to be functional, wow is the first key and having said that, it has to be functional, and it has to be user friendly when you are delivering it to somebody.

It has to be the way that you operate your phone or, you operate your laptop, or any product. The usefulness has to come out. Only aesthetics does not cut it. Few designers do work from that perspective that aesthetics is the prime priority, the next time onwards we see how the design evolves. But for us and for me specifically, on the day one when we start at the point one, we take care of all the aspects. So that at the end, the product is a nice fruitful product which comes out. To be a designer, and meet the client’s expectations as well.”

Sharmila then narrated her winning workflow that has contended a rapidly advancing industry with prestige and resilience. She stressed on the importance of a common understanding of the project requirements, and fulfilment.

Implementing a mutual understanding

“From a human perspective I have implemented a lot of things, meaning first when you get introduced to a client you have to understand the client thoroughly, you have to dig into their portfolio before starting their work, so that you understand them fully. Then the foremost thing is being humble and kind because without that you cannot move on. Being humble and kind actually relates to teamwork as well. Being a leader, I cannot work without my team. I have to create a space of understanding and growth. The saying of one-man army does not go with our industry specifically, because if I am leading a team, I have a team of designers who must deliver on the project specifications. And if I am not able to deliver the things required with my team, there is no point.

Carrying forward, taking all of them, having brainstormed with them, learning from them as well as giving your learning to them are the major things which actually, I have implemented and this has reproduced the efficiency of my team members, who have grown up by moving and taking challenges together.”

Her direct and practical response to handling work priorities as a lead designer is truly inspiring. With extensive experience in delivering large-scale, high-quality projects, Sharmila further shared some insight into the design perspective of things.

Great design combines with a human perspective

“There is a design perspective and a human perspective to every project. There is no junior and there is no senior. Yes, you have to respect your seniors and there has to be a level of seniority, but then you have to respect all of them equally. Being a junior support staff as well, mutual respect is fundamental to this profession. Once you treat them nicely all of them give you some or the other learning. From a design perspective as I have earlier mentioned that aesthetically it has to be good, but then the design equally has to be functional, and it has to be appealing to the client’s use, so that the client is much more comfortable in terms of accepting the complete handover of the project.” To be continued. >>