Creating pathways to career success – AOD celebrates alumni entrepreneurs at Open Day Dreamer’s Talk
The Academy of Design just celebrated the close of yet another successful Open Day – an annual showcase representing everything the leading design university has to offer. This year’s event –titled Design Makers Lab- was themed around the resilience of design innovation, and featured an inspiring day packed with an agenda of interactive and informative workshops and talks, student showcases, exhibitions, fashion shows, and career guidance sessions.
Among the highlights of the Open Day was the Dreamer’s Talk segment– a series of engaging discussions hosted by six AOD graduates, who are now thriving innovators and entrepreneurs with their own hugely successful brands. Alumni Hash Bandara, Premuditha Perera, Nithya Lamahewa, Sajeewani Senevirathne, Ashveen Vidanagamage, and Ayodhaya Jayewardene, spoke to attendees on their personal journeys to building their own design businesses, on the challenges they faced along the way, and reflected on how following their degree education at AOD, the university’s Graduate School is helping them accelerate their careers to the industry change-makers they are today.
Hash Bandara, a 2012 graduate in the BA Hons Graphics and Visual communication program, is now a freelance designer and videographer, and also the CEO and Co-founder of multidisciplinary design studio, King Coconut (KiCo); focused on designing creative solutions to tell brands’ stories through various forms of media. To supplement her design learning with more career relevant education, Hash is currently pursuing an MA in Design Management and Entrepreneurship at AOD’s graduate school.
Premuditha Perera, graduated with a BA Hons Graphics and Visual communication in 2016, and has gone on to launch his own design-centric branding agency, Woke&Grand. Being put in the shoes as Founder of his own company, Premuditha realized the need to scale up his skills in order to succeed and stand out in a highly competitive industry. He is now invested in the MA Design Management and Entrepreneurship program at the university.
Nithya Lamahewa too has enrolled in the MA Design Management and Entrepreneurship, 9 years after graduating with a BA Hons Fashion & Textile Design degree in 2012. In that time she launched her own discerning fashion label which aims to re-invent ancient Sri Lankan crafts and introduce it to high-fashion retailers, while at the same time helping rural communities to promote their craft.
Ashveen Vidanagamage is now a highly successful architectural designer at a-design studio - a young and dynamic practice that works across all disciplines of architecture. Having completed his BA Hons degree in Interior Design back in 2013, and seeking to up design education and industry alignment in his work of producing dynamic spaces, Ashveen is currently pursuing an MA Design Innovation from AOD.
Sajeewani Senevirathne graduated with a BA Hons in Fashion & Textile Design in 2014, and hopes to graduate again in two years, this time with an MA Design Management and Entrepreneurship from AOD. She is currently Creative Director and Designer for her own brand, MENDÉS Ceylon -a contemporary artisan-driven label focused on designing clothes with artisan textiles and elevating Sri Lankan artisans and their crafts.
Ayodhaya Jayewardene joined the ranks of AOD’s highly-successful alumni when she graduated with a HND Diploma of Interior Design in 2008, and has since founded Ayo Interiors - now a much sought-after interior design company reputed for its personalized design solutions for spaces across the country. Now over two decades on, and going by the title of Director and Senior Interior Designer, Ayodhaya too bear testament to the support the academy has given throughout her journey.
Over two decades, the Academy of Design has emerged as the pioneer in design education in Sri Lanka, believing in the transformative potential of design and innovation in shaping the world. Today, the progressive design school’s ground breaking academic programs carry forward that mission, delivering a uniquely interdisciplinary education enriched by its faculty, networks, resources, and infrastructure. Deeply invested in its students, AOD ensures that potential creatives are honed into passionate, skilled, and impactful professionals; critical innovators of the future, ready to not just take on, but transform the industry.
After A/Ls, prospective students can choose from 5 full-time degree programs offered by the university, depending on the creative field they wish to pursue: BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design, BA (Hons) in Fashion Design and Marketing, BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design, BA (Hons) Graphics & Visual Communication Design, and BA (Hons) Motion Graphics and Animation Design – all of which are accredited by the globally-ranked Northumbria University UK. Here, students will first be familiarized with their discipline of choice by a faculty of internationally-qualified instructors, who will then help develop their unique skill sets and interests to finally utilise this know-how to establish and showcase their own signature brand of style with confidence. These courses will be a combination of tutorial guidance, project ‘crits’, competitions, live industrial projects, and placements where students will get to fully understand the local and international design industry through expertise and portfolio.
While the comprehensive design university draws from its portfolio of BA Hons programs to provide budding designers with a diverse range of design-centric courses to get started on their future goals, the AOD Graduate School and Graduate Startup School will ensure that they see those goals through; by providing a well-rounded education and exposure to aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs looking to get a holistic industry focused education.
AOD’s Graduate School of Design operates in partnership with the De Montfort University UK, and offers 3 part-time –yet highly immersive- graduate programs: the MA Design Innovation, MA Design Management and Entrepreneurship, and the MA Contour Fashion Innovation. These courses are aimed at entrepreneurs in the design and fashion industry with ambitions to apply their creative and analytical skills to business and evolving social contexts.
For graduates enrolled in the MA in Design Management and Entrepreneurship program however, a whole other pathway is opened up in the form of AOD’s Startup School for Creatives. The first ever startup school in Sri Lanka, students here will not only exit with an MA qualification, but also be equipped with the correct balance of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and networks to be a successful entrepreneur or intrapreneur. The ultimate purpose of the program is not only to prepare talent to embrace a high level of executive responsibility in any design, creative or digital media technology business, but also to be a part of the momentum driving the industry forward using leading edge thinking in global management practices.