Entrepreneur and Former Director, Katerra (Interview Part-1)
A journey of creative aspirations
Sudheera Mure is an architect. She is a member of Council of Architecture and Indian Institute of Architects. She has 25 years of experience, where the first 5 years of her decorated career in architecture was with Kharche Associates in Chennai. She says that her 20 years plus experience is in interiors (with DSP/KGD/Katerra), a happening, high energy and fast paced domain. She is also a member of Wirenet. She states that design is one profession, you never get bored of. That’s the advantage of being in the creative field and her success is a mirror of this commitment. She believes creativity reflects in personal life, how you deal with things and how your personality is shaped over the years. She says, “Your professional life does reflect in your personal life. It will create a positive impact on your personal life.”
As Best Creators took to her valuable insights, we learned powerful guiding forces of her elaborate career in architecture and design. She was quick to provide great learnings for the fraternity and all those involved. Her main focus was on how the function is an offspring on design and best value for client’s money would bring lots of satisfaction.
“When it comes to design philosophies, design shall meet function, while providing bang for the buck. Designs may have various options, but not necessary that a good design should be expensive. I’m not talking about cheaper, but value for money should reflect in the design. That should be the ideal philosophy for any design. Every design should gel with a functional aspect. In this era, there’s a lot of information design choices available. What works well and why it works is what a designer should keep in mind and provide a solution.
She then told the Best Creators about the importance of collaboration and communication in the organization.
“Impacting an organization has always been based on team performance rather than individual performance. Knowledge sharing enhances value, bringing synergy to overall organization performance. Leadership is all about being approachable to teams and clients. It’s not about how big you grow and thus spending fewer hours on these aspects. Be more approachable to teams and clients, and that’s how you add value for your client and your organization. We have to share knowledge and keep learning new things for the growth of your organization. There are no shortcuts for discipline or commitment.There is no specific definition for learning approaches because each one learns from their own experiences. But from my learning, I would like to say that never stick to your comfort zone. Go out of your comfort zone and it will bring more opportunities for learnings. The second one is to adapt to change. Change is continuous. How quickly you can adapt to change is critical and focus on what one can bring to the organization.
Sudheera Mure’s views are a true reflection of the prowess she holds in this vast and impactful industry. She challenges the profession she holds dear with obstacles that may come her way as a learning experience to perform better.
“In terms of challenges, there are many that arise. Some of them that pertain to the design industry is related to overall planning happening in terms of time management. Most of the time, we work with very aggressive timelines, especially in interior segment, the turnaround time is always at a very quick pace. The construction happens in a rapid pace and every nook and corner of the space is going to be a design-oriented area. Therefore, the number of areas to design will be very vast and construction is much faster than primary structure. How we schedule is critical. Projects contain design, documentation and execution phases. When a specific time is given, we should educate client on the plan to bide time for design to ensure quality is reflected in the end product. Once completed, a good design masks earlier time crunches & challenges faced during execution. That is why we have to spend quality time during design, while meeting timeframes as per client’s demand. Due to high real estate valuations, one cannot expect clients to give lavish time-frames. Complete agreement on how we schedule project deliverables is very important. Another aspect is the retrofits. When we do retrofits, there are lot of challenges, with many surprises. Our experience should help us navigate challenges.
“When we design a space, we consider the rising land values and focus on space optimization. How best we can fit in the requirements and how well it can be designed plays a vital role. The second thing is value for money. We usually conduct workshops, where we interact with end-users, share the dos and don’ts, understand the wish list, and educate them on what can be fitted and what can be avoided. We look at what the client is looking for to align our design to the client’s requirements. With all these parameters, there should be a unique factor when the project is built. The uniqueness of design and value engineering is very important. Where we divert and utilize the money optimally, determines how client benefits in terms of function and design.”
Her focus on well-being of the team forms the basis of leadership values, enabled her success in the industry. She is a strong advocate for collaboration and imparts wisdom that encourages people to create a unique impact through regard and mutual understanding. She further continued to expand on her sources of learning and how she continues to keep updated with the latest trends in today’s world of interior design. To be continued.
Challenges are plenty every project comes with its unique set of challenges. Anup decided to pour his experiences into three buckets.
First, how you do you get absolute clarity about the program of the project. Most often the project program is not very clear, it is ambiguous and left to a sense of interpretation, which could lead to an ambiguity. His team tend to go back with multiple solutions, put them on the table and create resolutions, to provide clarity to the project’s program. Application of Design Thinking processes help in obtaining resolution to the most complex problems.
The second bucket comes from what he calls as the ‘mind and hand gap.’ At the creative end of things, there is a mind side, and then there is the hand that executes it. Your drawings are read by somebody in charge on the site, or read by a bar bender, or by a plumber, when there is a gap between what the mind thinks and what the hand wants to do, leading to varied interpretations leading to friction. Before we start a project, we speak to people who are the hands of the project. We share the philosophy and intent of the project and how the hands are responsible for the project, just as much as the creative team. This is something Urban Frame constantly keeps pushing, to reduce the gap between mind and hand in executing a project.
The third bucket is to keep an eye for project fatigue. When the project stretches over a sizeable period, there is a fatigue that creeps into the project. This is due to the high momentum that is created initially, and then slows down, and this is when you need to pick it up again and put it back on track, resulting in a lot of challenges. The team needs to refresh themselves in the project cycle. When there is a team working on the project and it hits fatigue, they get some fresh legs onto the project, we find someone who can rethink the project in a different way, without losing the initial intent. There are a lot of people who are digital designers, making drawings for the project. The team allows their digital designers to visit sites and witness their drawings come to life, this enhances ownership. They give us their insights and the team rethinks together. It becomes insightful when there is a different sense of ownership to the project. One way
to cut down project fatigue is to look at ownership at different levels. ” To be continued>>