Success & Survival: How A Women Dared To Grow In The Lockdown | Wade Asia Special | Women Architects

Vaibhavi Thakkar Desai

Instead of suffering from the creative block regularly, Vaibhavi Thakkar Desai pf TV’s Studio Design (Ahmedabad)  used this lockdown period to emulate the notions of re-inventing and re-imagining in her psyche. SURFACES REPORTER (SR) is sharing here the story of Vaibhavi who rejuvenated her entire lifestyle when a large section of the privileged community was busy cribbing about their discomforts. This story is a part of SR's campaign in association with WADE ASIA where we invited women in Design to share their inspiring stories from 2020. 

Meet Vaibhavi Thakkar Desai

Vaibhavi Thakkar Desai of TV’s Studio Design (Ahmedabad) and an assistant professor at GLS Institute of Design and winner of the ‘Woman of Radiance’ award in 2015, is an accomplished architect who designed the First theatre in Kadi named ‘V world’. With the experience of working on four major streams, namely ‘Generative Design Process’, ‘Building energy efficiency’, History Theory and criticism’ and ‘Crafts and Technology’, she specialized in ‘Crafts and Technology’ winning the prestigious ‘Academic excellence award’ and Kohler scholarship in the process.

Also Read: The Way to Success: How A Women with Hope, Resilience, and Power Made It to the top

Her breakthroughs in the field of architecture earned her an interview on ‘Role of a Designer in the society’ by Madhurima magazine. Apart from working under various institutions like Imbue Designs and Vision Infra Creations Pvt. Ltd., she is also associated with different design institutes in Ahmedabad as visiting faculty.

The Hurdles & Halts brought about by the Pandemic

But like any other person, lockdown hit her pretty hard too. From working herself to the point of exhaustion every day, she suddenly had enough time to afford the luxury of reminiscing and procrastinating. But instead of whiling away her time waiting for things to get normal, she made it a point to keep working on herself to improve herself in all aspects of her life. From suffering from the creative block on a regular basis, she used this lockdown period to emulate the notions of re-inventing and re-imagining in her psyche. She realized to come out of a creative block, she needed to stop framing it as a fixed output-based entity in her mind. Instead, she focused her time and energy on refurbishing the fact “Design is all about process and not just the output.”

in her mind so that whenever faced by a block, she can just reinvent the process or re-imagine the whole concept.

Her guiding principles in life and living

One of her key realizations during this lockdown has been to not set her bar too high and make herself struggle more than that was necessary. Her philosophy regarding this matter is pretty straightforward – life is a struggle, why complicate it any more than necessary? Multi-tasking is a prerequisite in today’s society.

Each and every one of us has had to juggle numerous responsibilities on more than one occasion. But Vaibhavi realized that just because you focus on certain aspects more, doesn’t mean that you completely forego the remaining parts of your life.

During the lockdown the realization struck her that she is not just a daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, Assistant professor, Phd student and proprietor of her firm. She is also a friend, sister, colleague, artist, good cook and so on. This introspection, that the lockdown afforded her, helped her be more self-confident. 

Also Read: The Green Heart: An Architect Who Dared To Care

When the entire world came to a standstill in 2020 her dialogue with her inner self took off. And that is when she it finally dawned on her, that it is virtually impossible for a single person to know everything. Once she became aware of this, she has embraced the ‘don’t know’ factor wholeheartedly. She says, “Not knowing generates curiosity, it opens a new world of awareness.” She further stressed on the fact that not knowing is a way better way of knowing what one doesn’t know and further opens up a hitherto unexplored range of possibilities and knowledge. And most importantly, it is important to respect these opportunities to learn, as this is a privilege no matter how overwhelming it gets at times.

Gratitude is the key

But amidst all this focus on herself and her own betterment, Vaibhavi made it a point to be gratified by the fact that in the middle of the huge economic crunch underway due to the pandemic, she, unlike more than 122 million people in India, had a job to do. So, when the work became demanding due to the intense work pressure faced by the society due to the intense lack of man power, she tried her best to accept the extra workload and commitment rather than crib about it.

Considering her job as a blessing during the desperate times, helped her understand that her job, no matter how taxing, provides her with sustenance and stability at a time when the world was struggling to stay on its feet.

In hindsight, she feels that these added pressure and responsibilities have moulded her into a more generous team person and a more considerate leader and colleague. This led her to grasp the fact that whatever field it is, when it comes to clients and teams, a collaborative approach is the best way forward. She even has her own saying about it, “Collaboration is a key to exploration.”

By doing away with her rigidity and insecurity, she has been able to unfurl her talent in a way she never thought was possible. Being more receptive and open helped her become a better architect herself and she credits the sudden halt to normalcy brought about by the lockdown for bring forth this realization in herself.

The Secret to her Success

Is spite of all the new ideas and notions that she gained about herself, her work and her life, the single most important realization for the sake of her career has been, “There are two main important things in developing a great design, one is knowing when to be the generator of the idea and second, knowing when to be the synthesizer of floating ideas around you.” Being successful with any client in any field requires one to firstly understand that your client doesn’t always want you to generate an idea. Instead they would be highly obliged if you could process their requirements and choices and their brief about a particular idea and come up with the perfectly synthesized end product.

Before lockdown, there had been times where she had kept on pitching multiple ideas to clients, mostly to convince herself of her ability. So ever since she reopened her office after lockdown it has been a point of hers to explore any and every avenue and agency lest she learns something new or finds a better idea. In short, she made herself open to collaboration and did way with the rigidity that made her constantly push herself needlessly.

Also Read: Lets Find Out How This Lady Architect Managed to Grow Her New Venture in This Tough Pandemic Period

A journey of rediscovery: Realigning herself & her practices

Finally, once she had ironed out the aspects of herself that needed working on, she directed her time and energy towards putting her work out there for the people to see. Her previous reliance on her website for showcasing her talents went right out the window. Like countless others, who for the lack of a platform, made social media their platform for portraying their talents and work, Vaibhavi too to social media and corresponding agencies to put her work out there. Although this highly increased the chances of her work being plagiarized, she has one simple thing to say about it, ‘one shouldn’t be afraid of their work being plagiarized, nobody can plagiarize your talent.”

The power of listening has been a cornerstone of her own little Renaissance. Her reliance on this particular aspect has curtailed the risk of impulsive or impetuous acts, instead due to her listening more openly, her actions have been appropriate, in all actions of her life.

Vaibhavi has truly rejuvenated her entire lifestyle during the time when a large section of the privileged community was busy cribbing about their discomforts. This only goes on to show that if one puts their mind to it, anything is possible, even in the direst if circumstances.

Keep reading SURFACES REPORTER for more such articles and stories.

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