From Chasing Paycheques to Paying Checks: The Journey of Shweta Balasubramoni’s Life | Hyderabad | Wade Asia Special | Women Architects

Shweta Balasubramoni

As far as she can recollect, Shweta Balasubramoni has always been fascinated with form, space and the innate ability of human beings to create beauty. This fascination later transformed into a passion for design and to the degree it can impact other's lives, therefore venturing into the world of Architecture and Design and eventually went on to set up a firm, Vistaar Associates at the tender age of 26 with a dream in her eyes and a prayer in her heart. It wasn't easy for her being a young woman architect and as well an entrepreneur in a large but still fairly conservative city in India. Read her exciting story below at SURFACES REPORTER (SR). 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. 

Also Read: The Urban Future: The Inspiring Story of Leena Kumar

Apart from fighting deep-rooted prejudices and a non-conducive ecosystem, she realized that she neither had the budget nor a project to carry her entrepreneurial dreams in the direction she wanted. Nonetheless, the ardent desire to make her dreams come to life helped her focus on a sustainable model of designing and building and eventually received support for finding co-workers that shared the same level of passion for creativity, perfection and form.

Even after such a struggle, there were challenges left to face in a predominantly male industry. From haggling with suppliers to getting work done by masons, artisans and carpenters, she had to constantly prove her abilities to avoid being dismissed as nothing more than an 'Interior Decorator'.

Men aside the women in the industry have no better approach and an equally condescending attitude questioning her ability to balance personal life and professional commitments as a "Woman Entrepreneur", all of this wasn't enough to throw her off-guard and moreover motivated her to strive for greater balance every day.

Initial Times

In the early years of setting up her business, her primary goal was to establish a distinguishable identity for her firm Vistaar, which can now be best described as Indian sustainable interiors. She was inspired by the simplest of objects: ranging from a nutcracker to a traditional coir bed, all of which showcased pragmatism and flamboyance in their design language which leads to her finding inspiration in traditional designs.

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Amidst finding direction, inspiration and a motivated workforce, monetary considerations still weighed her down until she decided to take another leap of faith and started another company designing handcrafted products. Having unwrapped her demons and letting go of her demons, she could sense life becoming simpler and eventually, projects started trickling in, nothing spectacular but good enough to call it a start.

She further went onto designing new spaces across transgressing habitats and geographical boundaries, as the reputation for her design grew. At this point, she decided to give back to society, by reusing old items of sanitary ware from dilapidated school toilets of government-run schools into renovated projects.

It was a moment of immense satisfaction to see her team do well, building homes for themselves and rising above in the prosperity quotient.

Greater Purpose

Despite having created a niche for herself and seeing a steady rise in its range and repertoire, her deep-rooted dream of touching lives made her feel unfulfilled at times and thereby began her tryst of addressing thousands of students at the university fests and mentoring them for their thesis based semester proved to be an extremely gratifying experience with the added advantage of having networked within the fraternity at multiple design symposiums ultimately leading her to attain a tent position at the national body of interior designers.

And yet there was something still missing, her ardent desire to create designs on a larger more inclusive canvas outside of posh residences in gated communities, culminating a citizen’s movement towards more aesthetic and hygienic lanes and having the vision to do impactful work pertaining to specified areas of sanitation.

Also Read: Roti and Makaan; How this woman turned it into her passion

Expressing Gratitude

As of today, life has turned around for her and giving her the ability to choose the kind of projects she feels can add value to being first of its kind sustainable washroom facilities for sanitation workers in Leh!

She has a wide array of projects ranging from hospitality to commercial spaces all across the nation and even across borders which has blessed her with hope courage to start her first-ever overseas venture in Dubai also embarking on a special side project going by the name Karigari which aims to make a difference in the lives of craftsmen often taken for granted while providing value in the form of handcrafted, durable and customised furniture.

Having achieved all of this she had something inspiring to say about the future and people at any stage in their respective professions "I don't pretend to predict the future but I'm sure that my dreams and passion will not abate. For its not just the paycheques that fuel my passion, but the pursuit of what sets the soul on fire, as I begin my day every morning."

Keep reading SURFACES REPORTER for more such articles and stories.

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