Meet Shefali Arora, Co-Founder of Ideaa Institute of Design. She is not just the creative force behind the institute but also the architecture world’s rising star. Based in Pune, she is a post graduate and gold medalist in Landscape Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She talks to us about the inspiration behind building an architectural design firm and academic institute and also tells us how the husband and wife team act as a pillar of support in the workspace.
Please tell us about yourself? About your education, career, and journey till now.
My graduate and postgraduate degrees’ are in Architecture and Landscape Architecture. I started my career in the industry to gain some hands-on experience. It is there where I got acquainted with the pros and cons of handling the client’s choices. My understanding of the gap between theory and practice got more evident as I interacted with more clients/people. Indeed it was difficult to make people understand the basics of the design world.
This enriching experience motivated me to be more practical than theoretical and nurtured my long desired wish to set up an institute of my own. Thus my Institutes prime goal is to be more practice-oriented.
For this, we conduct our lectures in different localities such as class, gardens, roadsides, etc. This approach opens up the minds of future designers and architects. The adoption of such techniques helps students to learn through experimentation, and they become self-learners and good thinkers.
I have a work experience of 10 years. In this period I have worked with MNC’s, Consultants, taught across various institutes in Pune and I also have my small landscape practice. The journey has been full of ups and downs, with fascinating outcomes.
Each uphill climb has taught me to take steps and achieve small goals along the way.
How did your interest in architecture begin? What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?
My journey in the design world started since I was a teenager. Back in my school days, I used to enjoy doing art related activities. My passion for drawing grew as I kept practicing. My parents supported my decision to pursue illustration to make it as my career. It was during my higher secondary school; I was clear that I want to become an Architect. During my graduation days, my interest in Landscape grew, I did my training with Stalwart of Landscape architecture- Ar. Kishore Pradhan, Mumbai.
The experience of working with the established people in the field, fine-tuned my knowledge and I learned more by doing projects.
You are the Co-Founder of a design and education school. Why did you choose teaching design as your career?
Having been brought up in a family of academicians, I always knew the importance and value of quality education. As Benjamin Franklin says, ‘Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.’
Design is never right or wrong. It’s the perception of people. Making students aware of not what to think, instead of how to think, creative ways of analyzing, different approaches to tackle the same problem helps them understand better. Teaching as a career option is very rewarding in terms of satisfaction. When I see my students happily doing well, I feel content.
You also have an incubation center. What is the role of an incubation center?
We firmly believe in what Albert Einstein said, ‘Creativity is contagious, pass it on.’ Thus, we undertake consultancy projects and professionally deliver design solutions in various areas of design disciplines.
As it is often the case in design, it’s not how complex a plan is that it proves the designer’s brilliance, but how simple it can be. We have a simple approach of giving a platform at various levels to talented students/ designers/ professionals through incubation center. Professionals/ students who are deserving, get to work on live projects with our guidance. Hence it helps them create a name for themselves in the professional world. So far we have undertaken quite a few projects under IIDc.
You can visit here to see the list of projects undertaken.
How the husband-wife team partnership has influenced your approach to design and work?
Often people do ask us, how come you both work on the same platform? The answer here is pretty simple. We both are individuals with different approaches and ways of thinking. So we tend to focus more on our strengths and divide the work accordingly. For example- Deepak is excellent in handling people and socializing. So he looks after the PR and social aspects of IID. I am more inclined towards teaching traditionally with chalk and board. So, we both tend to keep our line of work separate in spite of being in the same space. Thus we happily work together as a team rather than butting our heads at it. Working as a husband and wife have its perks- we don’t need to explain everything in detail, it helps reduce our time and makes work faster and simpler.