The multidisciplinary potential of Interior Architecture Design – A conversation with AOD alumnus Designer Ashveen Vidanagamage

A graduate from the Academy Of Design’s BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design programme back in 2013, Ashveen Vidanagamage has experienced first-hand how investing in a world-class design education bears fruit for years into the future.

Now a successful Interior and Architectural Designer, Ashveen has over the years acquired a diverse design portfolio that includes numerous projects, including master plans, residential towers, apartment complexes, villas, five-star hotels, plazas, and offices; placing him as the multidisciplinary design leader he is today. Passionate about creating unique, timeless architecture in response to various spaces and culture, through his designs Ashveen strives to meet the challenges of change and growth required of the changing industry landscape.

Ashveen has now returned to his alma mater, pursuing an MA in Design Innovation while also fulfilling his commitments as an Interior and Architectural Designer at a-designstudio. He speaks to Education Times about how AOD played a crucial role in not just building his career, but his value system as well.

 

  • In brief, discuss your career trajectory post-graduation to the present. What are the job responsibilities of your current role?

Well, I joined AOD in 2010 and graduated in 2013, but I started working before that thanks to a contact I made while I was in university. AOD hires lecturers who are already well placed in the industry, and so I was able to join a-designstudio before I officially graduated. I first started in the capacity of a junior designer, and now, ten years later, I’ve climbed up the ladder to the position of Interior and Architectural Designer. While at AOD projects have been displayed at the Sri Lanka Design Festival 2013 and I have since been featured also in Living magazine.

In my current role, I design structures and spaces for some of the country’s most prestigious residential, industrial, and hospitality projects.

  • What at the time made you choose Interior Architecture Design, and why AOD?

I went to Stafford, and after my A Levels I actually signed up for a career in Marketing by enrolling for CIM. Halfway through my course however, I came across AOD and the many programmes it offered even at the time, and my eyes were opened to the possibilities of a design-centred career. The BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design degree piqued my interest the most, and I was drawn also to the unique university culture it projected – it was uphill for me from there.

  • What about the (BA) Interior and Architecture Design programme shaped you into becoming the multidisciplinary designer that you are today?

What I most appreciate from AOD, was how conceptuality was drilled into our heads right from the start. We were always encouraged to not confine ourselves with our thought processes, and were instead pushed to be flexible with our designs.

The faculty that taught us comprised of well-established Sri Lankan designers as well as lecturers from abroad, and it was this access I feel that helped us get a privileged understanding of how the global design industry operates on an interdisciplinary level. Lecturers at AOD often push each one of us to realise our own potential and reach greater heights.

  • Do you find yourself employing your skillsets towards furthering grassroots communities in Sri Lanka? Did AOD play a role in that in any way?

Oh, definitely. A project we at a-designstudio did for Avani Kalutara comes to mind, where we worked with local batik artisans from the local community to create and produce products that would then go on to be incorporated into the hotel.

To be honest, as a young student at AOD I didn’t at the time understand the value our traditional local craft systems could bring into our ideas and projects. But from the very beginning, AOD pushed us towards learning and appreciating what these communities can bring to the table, and also encouraged their advancement. I remember quite clearly how in our final year we were taken to work quite closely with some Tamil communities up North, and returned with a newfound appreciation for the hard work and beauty that often goes unappreciated. This was an eye-opening experience for me, and definitely played a pivotal role in how I choose to function today.

  • Drawing from your own experiences, what advice would you give young interior architecture designers as they embark on their journey?

Don’t be rigid. Be super conceptual with your designs, and while yes, you need an element of practicality, use your time at university to test the limits of what your thinking can do. Also, choose to be intentionally multidisciplinary, because this will definitely help you get ahead in your career. Finding employment in a small firm worked well for me for instance, because it meant that I had to learn the ability to be involved in all aspects of the projects we worked on. It will also help you embrace changes in the industry and work with them as well.

AOD’s BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design degree programme, as the name suggests, has elements of both Interior Design and Architecture, merging these two disciplines to reflect the fluid nature of the industry. While an interior designer purely focuses on interior design aesthetics and furnishing in relation to a particular space, an interior architect’s task is far greater and more complex; standing at the intersection of architecture, design of the built environment, sustainability, and conservation – balancing the design aspect of aesthetics and functionality.

The three year programme is founded on a curriculum that explores not just concepts and theories, but also practical skills geared towards industry application. Through hands-on lectures, tutorials, crits, projects, and showcases, students are guided by experienced international faculty, and eventually equipped with the toolkit required to succeed in a graduate career across a wide spectrum of design roles and careers – with the added advantage of having been encouraged to develop their own individual identities as a designer.

As with all BA programmes at the country’s leading design institution, AOD’s BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design course is also accredited by the globally-ranked Northumbria University, UK; giving students benefit of graduating with an internationally recognised degree at a fraction of the cost, and from closer to home. With an address at the striking Colombo Innovation Tower (CIT), AOD students can also look forward to unparalleled resources and state-of-the-art infrastructure, with also many an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the country’s leading designers and innovators.

AOD invites Sri Lanka’s young interior and architecture design aspirants who have just completed their A/Ls and those that are sitting for their A/Ls this year to learn more about the BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Design degree programme offered at the university, as well as to explore the many career pathways that they too can aspire to with an award-winning and internationally accredited design degree. Live your design dream in Sri Lanka,in the UK or anywhere in the world, Complete your BA fully in Sri Lanka or UK 2+1 transfer programme or international placements.

For more information, contact AOD on 0775727772, email info@aod.lk or walk in between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday – Colombo Innovation Tower, No 477, R A De Mel mawatha, Colombo 4 www.aod.lk