Entrepreneur and Former Director, Katerra (Interview PART-1)
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.
Unlike a few years ago, there’s so much more access to information today. Let it be technology or new materials, we try to learn about the trends. There are various modes we employ to update ourselves. One is knowledge sharing sessions, where lots of information is shared. Also, global vendors are doing lot of research and offer white papers, where they educate us a lot on what is happening. I also travel a lot to make visits to good exhibitions like the Milan exhibition, NeoCon to know global trends. We interact with a lot of foreign architects helps exchange ideas.
“There is more than just one defining moment. At the end of each day, what keeps our energy level high is client satisfaction and appreciation from clients. One of the moments that make us happy is when we get a chain of projects from our clients, a benchmark for how happy the clients are with us. That brings a lot of confidence and happiness, boosting up energy levels.”
Sudheera attributes her joy in working to the value she brings to the lives of her clients and team members. She is a strong advocate for the well-being and associates the gooess of this world with the efforts taken to make each space better with a commitment to excel. She then told the Best Creators about a fast-paced change that the industry is witnessing and explained how Artificial intelligence is surely shaping the industry today.
“I think artificial intelligence is a new thing that will bring lots of changes to the industry and modularity will play a major role. I think that everything is going to become factory finished, where AI will play a crucial role. The change is already happening but pace of change will be faster with AI.”
That being said, Sudheera then took the opportunity to impart her learnings to the upcoming youth and share powerful thoughts on tackling challenges. Her advice is pinpoint, resonating with every person in the fraternity to chase success with a commitment to improve every day.
She elaborated further, “Focus more on what you can bring to the organization. That’s one thing, which ensures everything else falls in place. Once you’re successful in your career, your personal life also will be impacted positively. Ultimately, happy people can do a lot more good things in a better way. You can be a role model for your children. It’s like a live demonstration you are doing for the world. There are challenges, but everybody can overcome these challenges.”
Sudheera then suggested how to leverage technology to make architecture easier and more fruitful. Her thoughts were truly inspiring as she suggested some innovative ways to tackle many challenges faced in the industry.
“We have been educated enormously by various vendors and the kind of materials introduces to the market brings us a lot of opportunities for us to design various ways. There are a lot more options available. This is a personal experience we undergo with vendors. It’s not that every vendor is maintaining a 3D library. When we like a material and like it, and see that it is a new thing that can be implemented, the 3D team has to generate that. A proper 3D library would help a lot. There are certain vendors who maintain a 3D library, but not most of them. There are certain people who are not able to maintain. A material library is very practical and would bring much value and help. We should be able to get a soft copy of the materials to implement our concepts when we develop the design. Secondly, though a lot of materials are coming into the market, the consistency of the materials is missing somethings. When we back the projects for architecture and interiors together, it may take a year just to construct the building depending on the scale of the project. As architects and interior designers, we design architecture, facades, and interiors. By the time it gets executed, sometimes there’s no consistency in the availability of materials. Some of the products would probably be discontinued or things like that. That is a little challenging. Vendors can also educate us about the complications and challenges. We may like the materials but the kind of applications and where exactly it goes is important. Some vendors give us only the best part of the materials. They should give us the challenges and what problems we may face in terms of the application of any building material. We may inquire about the MRP of materials. But the project price may vary depending on the scale of the project. So why can’t it be a system where vendors maintain an online portal, to tentatively quantify the discounted prices because we often deselect items often due to the pricing. We’d like to know and understand the overall budget to quantify our design process. It’s not necessarily available physically at our offices, but it is good to be informed.”
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“I do projects outside India, in the Middle East, and other places. What we still see among turnkey contractors in India, there is a process called shop drawing submissions. That phase is very important because the turnkey contractor is also very fully involved in the design process. They know what goes behind the detailing. Once they develop the shop drawing, they become familiar with the overall project. It becomes easier to execute when they know what goes behind the project. Sometimes, once after execution, it can be irreversible. Because of the time crunch or some other matter. If they make proper shop drawings, it would help avoid mistakes. It also helps bring about much more quality. In the Indian segment, the practice of shop drawings especially when it comes to joinery it doesn’t happen at a higher level. There are very few contractors who are able to do that. Most of the time, the drawings we supply become the shop drawings and are submitted. Globally every contractor is doing that and India should catch up. And the technology used should have opted for the best results. The contractor can opt for higher technology. People are working on Revit nowadays. Most of the time when a contractor is not working on Revit it becomes a drawback when working on drawings.
With my experience, some of the points I would say is, to be honest with your teams. Transparency should be created. Bring in more positive energy and momentum to the team. Understand the strengths and weaknesses. Every person has the best quality and a drawback also. Identify what best they can give so that the overall performance of a team can be uplifted. There are no defining factors of leadership, it comes with experience and from dealing with people.”
“For the young architects, I would suggest being patient while learning things and don’t look for quick results. When it comes to efficiency, look for constant learning. Start focusing on what value you can add to society and bring to your organization. Architects nowadays, especially younger minds are quick learners I would say. That would definitely help them to bring a lot more value to society. The Best Creators is a great initiative and would be very helpful for youngsters. Youngsters should choose their right mentors. It’s not always from the same industry, or a senior, it can be anyone who can inspire the youth. A mentor is very much necessary.”