Atelier 108 is an architecture and interior design brand, showcasing an intense way of living, bringing fierceness, strength, and power into an urban lifestyle. With a clear philosophy of spaces reflecting the people inhabiting them, Anusha Arun along with her team creates unique experiences through her designs.
In this delightful conversation with Atelier 108’s owner, Anusha Arun shares all about her proud team, girl power, and design challenges. Along with how the needs in terms of designs shifted during and after the Pandemic.
I am a girl next door, who has a great passion for design and anything that included creativity. Back in school, I would heat to all the art clubs and get involved in anything that was remotely creative. Post that I wanted to join something that would kindle my interest in design. Hence, I joined the Ramaiah University here in Bangalore, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After that, I worked for a few years before joining the Master’s program in advanced architecture in Spain.
After finishing the Master’s course, I did a little traveling and tried to think about what I wanted to do. Surprisingly, just after three days of returning, I got an inquiry from an elderly couple who wanted to get their penthouse re-done. This was the very first client that I got and I did not ask for it, though I went with the flow and I have been forever grateful for them.
There are three personalities that are my biggest influences in the field. First is Mr. Le Corbusier who focused on design whether it is furniture, buildings, or interiors. He did not differentiate between architecture and interiors, and I feel I am also like that. I do not like to give more importance to architecture or interiors, be it anything that requires a design solution is what sparks my passion. Secondly, I derive a lot of inspiration from Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright ever since I read his books and saw his buildings when I traveled. I love the way he connects human nature with architecture and space.
And lastly, the third one is Mr. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. I love that he is simple, minimalistic, and straightforward with a modern approach. Since I love decluttering, clean lines, clean spaces, and materials that are genuinely expressed in their natural forms, he inspires me to do the same.
Their contribution to the field is enormous and each day I can find a different angle and different depth according to my design understanding.
Generally, I always say to the clients that a home should reflect the family staying there as each one of us are unique. Although, we are humans and we evolve and change so the interiors do not necessarily change with us. Hence, at Atelier 108, I always advocate for my clients that it is nice to keep a clean canvas and take things that evolve with you.
So I would like to go for all the basics and foundations that will not change for good ten years, in a neutral palette. Also, if a client already has a mood board set up, we start talking to them and see their lifestyle, and we try to understand their taste so that we can filter out the unnecessary things. In the end, we want to guide them through what suits them best and that is our basic design approach.
Covid, like everybody else, it was such an uncertain period. We did not know what to predict for Atelier 108 and we did not know what to expect. We were utterly drawn a blank. And unlike other essential industries, ours was completely shut off. There was absolutely no work for us. Even if we were willing to do work from home, at least for the first year in the lockdown, there was absolutely no work.
The scarier thing was there were couple of big projects that we were working on and were completely halted. So everything was very uncertain. One thing that my organization, Atelier 108 and I are very proud of is we were able to pay employees full salaries.
I told myself, until there is money in the account, I am going to continue to pay because people have to eat, people have to pay rent and life has to go on even if we don’t have work. So that is something that I am very proud of. I did do a lot of COVID relief programs because my mom is a social worker. We reached out to many communities. We reached out almost to 1,500 families. We distributed about 10,000 kilos of grains, oil, vegetables, et cetera.
There was a big shift in thinking from at least the project that we were working on. They wanted multi-utility spaces. The home office was the need of the hour because working from home was the new norm.
If there were two people in the family working with kids, everybody wanted a workspace by themselves. And there were a lot of these multi-utility indoor-outdoor spaces. So a lot of requirements and the outlook of the family were changing.
Many people who wanted to buy an apartment returned and bought bigger plots because they enjoyed staying home. And then once you stay at home, you realize what the constraints, what you like and what you don’t like. So I think the timing and the outlook completely changed.
In one of the projects, we were flooded with people asking us to open up their kitchen. So it is a part of their dining space. And with requirements of easy maintenance, the use of dishwashers, the use of Roombas, robotic cleaners, Dyson, making the house very functional, and easy to maintain, plus space requirements in terms of study desks and different cocoons for different people, plus larger family gathering spaces because they really enjoyed spending time together.
I think my dream project would be a hospitality project. We, as a team of Atelier 108, have not done one yet. We have got a lot of inquiries for an eco-themed resort or a good hospitality project. Hence, that is what my dream project would be at the moment because we have really never done one.
I have done a collab with Ar. Charita from Studio Scapa as she is a friend and she has been my classmate. She has been my work colleague as well. I could not have asked her for a better partner and a companion to take up larger projects. Apart from this, I really look up to Sarah Sham from Essajees Atelier. Her approach to life and design is amazing and it would be great just to be part of her team.
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