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‘Creating design out of a challenge is an art I love!’ Bijal Panchmatia

Bijal Panchmatia, Interior Designer, LEED AP ID+C, Design Director, TheMonetaDesign

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Are female designers accepted by all? What are your experiences and facts? 

The need for the question to be asked itself speaks about the answer; we shall truly know that there is no gender bias when one won’t need to ask or answer questions about gender inequality.

Having said that, the Institution where I completed my Interior Studies had more guys than girls, over a period I have seen a progress in the number of Female designers but the change is rather slow paced.

Fortunately most people I work with are very welcoming to all female colleagues, leaving a few percentages of unruly men mostly at the construction sites.

Almost 60% of Indians still believe that women are less in calibre and are meant to only do household work. What is the future of women in the current market scenario?

I am all about gender equality but if we have more people who believe that women are less in caliber I think women in our country will bring the women empowerment much sooner to prove such old fashioned thinking wrong.

Given that, Skills, Talent or Creativity is never gender specific. In Mahatma Gandhi’s words “The Future depends on what we do today.” If today’s women work with all their heart and with their head straight, we need not need anyone to pave ways for us, we our paving ways for ourselves.

Outdoor visits – where you are required to spend the whole day on site as a woman – tell us what is lacking and what are the basic pre-requisites.

Even though working on sites is a challenging task but I love being on site.

Clean air, clean water and clean toilets are a struggle to find on a site but that’s a prerequisite irrespective of the gender.

Nobel laureates/awards and shortlists – are women designers been justified or do you feel there is partiality in selection.

I do not see any gender bias for Nobel laureates / awards but I feel the need of sub-categorizing all the categories in a Male and a Female section; so both the genders are equally recognized.

Personally, the recognition & appreciation I receive from my Client and the satisfaction for my own work is the Award I look forward to.

Who is your Inspiration – a women architect/interior designer?

Zaha Hadid. Her unconventional & radical design methods have always inspired me.

World over offices are called the “second home”. Is it true for a woman too?  Share your views?

Yes, even for women, offices are their ‘second home’.

The qualities like empathy & compassion ‘additionally’ help create a comfortable environment in the workspace rather than building up a competitive environment amongst the genders. The workspace environment & morale has a major impact on productivity & quality of work.

How did you get your first project? What & when was it? What were the challenges you faced then and is it still the same – or has it comparatively eased?

A Carpenter recommended me to my first client. That was over a decade ago, in 2007 a three bedroom residential in South Bombay. Accommodating client’s requirements in unique and creative designs, given within a set timeline and different sets of budgets is always a challenge. But, creating design out of a challenge is an art I love!

Payment to professionals – is there a discrepancy amongst the gender or what is your opinion.

I personally haven’t experienced or heard about gender wise discrepancies over professional fees.

Do women practically disappear either after marriage or children in this profession? 

They do not disappear; for most of the female designers I know personally, take a break for a few years to fulfill social & cultural roles as the primary caretakers of children and once they are settled in their new life some do rejoin the work. Social pressure does exist & is rather subjective;

But as I mentioned earlier, the society is progressing slowly but the change is there.

How do women who have taken a break from work after marriage or having children find their way back to start working again in this profession?

Comebacks are better than setbacks!

The common mistake one does after taking a break is not staying updated with rapidly changing professional requirements! Keeping in loop with the latest trends and upgrading yourself accordingly is a must.

How can architects/interior designers be more productive in their filed???

One can be more productive by Deciding which tasks needs to be done and Determining clear priorities for each task and then Dedicatedly execute them starting from most difficult tasks first then to the easiest tasks. Also, taking a break every once in a while is necessary. One shall self-practice & maintain discipline it helps!

What do you like most about being an interior designer 

Creativity! This profession has made me discover the Immense potential in myself to work on diverse unique projects & constantly creating varied spaces functional as well as aesthetically appealing at the same time.

What do people not know about Interiors or Interior Designers

For many, designing is all about Look & Feel but there is so much more to it!  The Interior design develops on the base of immense planning which has to comply with the requirements, space & timeline.

Also, there is a difference between an Interior Designer & an Interior Decorator.

Interior Decorators works on adorning the space with the finishes of Surfaces like drapes, colours, wall coverings, artwork or styling the space;

Whereas Interior Designers encompasses everything by formatting a space based on immense combination of art, science & calculations, which shall also come in terms with client’s vision, requirements, functionalism & making it visually appealing simultaneously.

One favourite material you love to work with.

Wood! With hundreds of species to choose from, the natural elements of woods never fail with its texture, unique knots, gradients & the grains.

Any last words that you would like to share with my readers and other female friends?

Would like to enlighten all readers with the wisdom shared by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe “Knowing Is Not enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do.”

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