Her Early Life
Passionate about the world of design and all of its creative possibilities, Rakhi M had a strong aesthetic and sense of beauty from a young age. On being asked about what sparked her interest in interior design, “I have always been a creative person. I loved nicely done places. So, it was easy for me.” She explains.
Taking us on her professional journey, Rakhi M told us that she always knew that she would end up being an interior designer, eventually owning an interior design firm. But she needed a strong technical background to make it a reality. So, she took up Architecture and graduated from JJ College of Architecture. She explains, “Being an architect helps you understand the project with a little larger spectrum. It totally changes your perspective in terms of the overall vision for the project.”
After her graduation, gaining work experience was next on her list. She says, “I consider myself fortunate as all through my career I have always got the opportunity to work on very high-quality projects and in different segments, such as commercial, hospitality, retail, educational and residential.” She has worked with some of the best practices, such as Kamal Malik and Niteen Parulekar.
Quite early in her career, Rakhi M got the opportunity to not only work as a designer with the best practices but also lead the projects that gave her real-world experience in the practical aspects of how projects get built. And it is this experience that gave her the confidence to start her own firm in 2011. She told us that when she started her own firm, she already had nearly 10 years of experience to back her move.
On Diversity of Her Projects
Rakhi M says she enjoys the diversity that her practice provides. She has successfully designed different types of projects for different types of clients. In retail, she has designed high-end shops and common areas of large retail spaces like the mall. In the hospitality segment, she has designed banquets, lounge areas, and hotel lobbies. In the commercial space, she has designed various office rooms and common office areas. She says, “All these projects are of different scales as well as spaces. We sort of love the challenge of working on different segments. It kind of keeps us on our toes, and at the same time, it’s exciting.”
Rakhi M’s Design Process
Every architect’s design process is extremely personal and nuanced. When we asked her how she approaches different segments of projects for different clients, she confidently says, “In the studio, we have a very process-driven approach. So, the work happens in well-defined stages, and hence the first stage of any project is a lot of design research.” She believes that most of the work happens in the initial stages of research.
Rakhi M on Having a Signature Design
When asked whether she has a signature style as most other designers do, she says, “my sense of style is very versatile, I don’t like to classify a peculiar style as my style, but instead, I like to understand the brief and develop stylized designed as per each client’s needs. I love to design spaces that are contemporary but may have unique items in different styles. I absolutely work around art pieces. I have done a couple of projects in maximalist styling and absolutely loved working on them. I have done some elements in the parametric style. For us, the client’s brief is important and then we elaborate it and add that element of style and design and make it tasteful.”
Rakhi M believes that the design of the project should reflect the client’s personality, or for commercial spaces, the business’s core values and interests in the most stylized, beautiful, and functional way. Each of the projects developed by her team has a unique character because it is a reflection of the interests and desires of each client.
Her Favorite Project
We asked her to name her favorite project. “All my projects are my favorite,” Rakhi M insists. But she does have a favorite. It’s the Art Guild House. It was a unique challenge to create a design very different from other commercial spaces. “The client was very clear in the brief. They wanted to create a destination where art meets business.” Rakhi M took the challenge head-on.
The building has an long organic shape with two lobbies and two atriums. With the first lobby, Rakhi M did up the ceiling in 3 inch wide acrylic stripes. “It was a complex installation. We had to put in a lot of effort in hanging each strip separately from the ceiling.” But it was worth the effort.
While sharing her experience on her favorite project, she told us that in each of her projects, she tries to create elements that strike an emotional connection and a sense of pride with the people who are going to use the space. She said, “After the handover, we often go back and check whether we have successfully achieved this aim or not.”
The Art Guild House is our favorite too. But we have yet another favorite.
Private Bungalow, Mumbai
Rakhi M gave a complete makeover to a 70-year-old bungalow in Mumbai. She beautifully fused classic and contemporary designs while keeping the tone of the spaces predominantly white. She brilliantly interjected vibrant colours in the rooms through furniture, art, and accessories.
Sourcing – The Way Forward
With the current pandemic affecting the operations, we wanted to know from Rakhi M how sourcing is going to be moving forward. She says, “The new normal for everyone is to go online and to depend on the internet to make this very functional. However, there are certain aspects where one needs to experience by touching to feel the texture, but at the same time, a lot of it can happen online. Today, a lot of companies are already sourcing online.” She further stated, “Sourcing online is going to be a key aspect moving forward.”
Rakhi M on Working With Arcedior
While talking about how Arcedior hosts 500 global brands together and has over 55,000 products listed, Rakhi M shares that she had a great experience with Arcedior; she further mentioned that Arcedior has made sourcing very easy. When we asked her about our website, she acknowledged the ease of using the website to source the products. She says, “It’s easy to browse through, and there are many product options.” She further adds, “Sourcing online is going to be great.”
It was a great experience talking to Rakhi M. We hope that you find this interview as insightful as we have. We will return soon with another episode of Design Leaders Decoded. Until then, stay healthy, stay safe.