Seeking success in the unconventional with contemporary Interior Design

Meet AOD Alumni Nishadi Fernando, who speaks on following her passion and designing spaces to enhance individuality and experience.

Nishadi’s past experience with art and design was more of a hobby rather than something she would consider as a future career. While schooling at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya her artistic nature and talent was recognized by her art teacher, Mrs. Manori Andree and it was then nurtured throughout school. Nishadi, after starting her higher education in medicine always turned to drawing and painting during her leisure, using mixed media art and turning it into a therapeutic experience. However, her fascination with art took over and she made a bold move into shifting her focus from science to design. Speaking on her decision to change her stream of study, Nishadi stated, “I always found inspiration in spaces and objects that occupied them. The appeal was in having the freedom to change things around and give life to my own ideas. Using space and interior creatively to me was breathing new life to a room, changing its aesthetic and giving it a new personality. Coming from a background in Science, I realized its conformity did not appeal to me. I found comfort and happiness in design”.

Nishadi truly found the freedom to test her ideas and use her artistic talents at AOD, where she ultimately went on to receive a First Class Honours Degree in Interior Design. She was given the opportunity to discover her real passion for interior design and studying it professionally made her see it from a different perspective. Nishadi identified with the values presented by AOD and reveled in the complete creative freedom and guidance she received. “We were given not just theoretical knowledge but also taught how to overcome difficult situations like clients who may not subscribe to your tastes. We had an amazing faculty who was always approachable and guided us through the design process. I can still count on them for advice and assistance. Creative problem solving was a major part of what we learnt and this was something I really enjoyed. Reading a design brief and brainstorming to come up with ideas was always encouraged and it made classes really fun and engaging”.

After Graduating, Nishadi went on to intern at Balmond Studio in Colombo, an international research-led practice of architects, designers, artists and theoreticians, where she was involved in several interior design projects. She then moved on to start work at Chameleon Eyi- an Interior Design Studio headed by AOD Alumni Ruwean Gunaratna. “At Chameleon I have the space and opportunity to work independently and really focus on getting my ideas out there. It’s honestly the best way for me to feel inspired and keep on creating. Particularly in Sri Lanka there is a misconception about what Interior Design really is and how space is used creatively. So, I think I’m at an advantage to really change the way people think and show how interior design improves lifestyles, functionality, efficiency and wellbeing. I am glad that I took the decision to study design and get qualified, since it has taught me not only professionalism but also the ability to understand my work in depth”.

AOD’s Interior Design programme prepares young, aspiring designers to innovate, provide solutions and cater to growing business needs in the modern world. By studying the dimensions, ergonomics, public safety, functionality and practicality of a space, students learn how to design interiors for various industries such as hospitality, residential, entertainment, health & wellbeing and many more. It is important to note the changes that have taken place in the interior design industry owing to technological advancements, changing human behaviour, work methods, lifestyles and thinking patterns. As the residential and hospitality sector grows, there is a need for Interior Designers with specialized skill, knowledge and the ability to cater to highly sophisticated and creatively focused consumer needs. As a catalyst for design-led innovation in South Asia and with a vision to be a global voice in the international design movement, AOD nurtures young designers to live up to their potential and recognize the opportunities presented in every industry. A designer has the unique benefit of being versatile and possessing a skill set that can be applied in a range of work environments and sectors. As more of the young generation embrace non-conventional thinking and a taste for the different, creative education and thinking will stay on top of the requirement list across industries.

“I did my research on ideologies of public spaces and living with technology. I was inspired by people; how they move, how they work and how they spend their off-time. It made me understand that interiors, while it includes colours, shapes and comfort, it also must serve a purpose and how important attention to detail really is”, says Nishadi, speaking on her main project completed during her final year at AOD. Nishadi has big plans for the future and want to start off by gaining more experience in the field, particularly in designing public spaces and then go on to gain her Master’s qualification and possibly go on to teach Interior Design. “If you feel that you are creatively inclined and have real passion for design, you should definitely follow your gut. For me, it turned out to be the best decision I ever made”.