Designer Stories

Decoding Jehan-Ara Poonawala

Making it Big in the Design and Architecture Industry
To deliver a great interior design project, it is crucial to have the vision of a designer, a vision that’s realized when creativity, knowledge, and decision-making skills come together in perfect synchronization. But the renowned architect and designer, Jehan-Ara Poonawala lays strong emphasis on the functionality of a space in addition to its aesthetics.

Over the last 20 years, Jehan-Ara Poonawala has established herself as a renowned name in the industry. She runs a design and architecture practice – J. J. Poonawala – where she leads a team of 30 members and encourages collaborative brain-storming to come up with cutting-edge design modalities and a fresh approach for every project. She has delivered some of the chicest, most savvy, and technologically advanced design and architectural projects – both commercial and residential. She excels at Hospitality projects.


R&D Centre For Meril

R&D centre for Meril, a healthcare solutions provider in the heart of Gujarat, is Jehan-Ara’s personal favorite. It was the challenge to create new experiences for a highly intelligent user body that encouraged her to learn and explore. She watched the scientists go about their work and envisioned a space that was more practical, convenient, and aesthetic. 

She has successfully created a sense of drama in an otherwise dull research center. You can experience grandeur as soon as you come up to the entrance. The signature color is pristine, clinical white throughout the space. The entrance leads the visitors and research team through quirky, fun, unusual meeting spaces, break out zones, and cafes. One of the most striking design features of the project is the artistically-inspired flow of water to the basins in washrooms. Moreover, the use of inspirational art to germinate creative cells while passing through a corridor was also a great decision made by the designer.

Hotel Verde Zanzibar, Africa

Poonawala told us that one of her most memorable projects has to be Hotel Verde Zanzibar, Africa’s first 5-star, fully sustainable hotel. The hotel winning multiple sustainability awards and retaining the title of Zanzibar’s Greenest Hotel was one of the most significant achievements for her. But above all was her sense of satisfaction. 

The construction of the building followed the criteria of the Green Building Council of South Africa, and eco-friendly furniture and recycled products were used wherever possible. Moreover, the building is sustainable and green principles and processes ensure eco-friendly operations that are continually assessed for improvement. “The sense of satisfaction of trying to give back to the planet earth was immense,” says Poonawala. 

The project is a wonderful combination of aesthetics and functionality. It offers not just a sustainable stay but is also equal parts luxurious.


Husttle Bar & Bistro, Mumbai

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L’Hotel Eden, Goa


Oasis Clubhouse

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Residence at Hanging Gardens, Mumbai


Residence in Daman

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The Rosewood Hotel, Mumbai

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Challenges in the Life of a Designer – Directly From the Expert

Being an entrepreneur for over 20 years, Poonawala has learned that a designer’s life is more than just design trends, aesthetics, and creativity. There are many other challenges that design professionals need to face before successfully completing a project. Some of them for her were budgeting, handling orders and invoices, working within tight timelines, and yet staying on top of design and décor innovation. 

It’s a lot of hard work that has led to Jehan-Ara’s success, and the expert herself believes that every aspiring designer and student should be ready to learn from these challenges. 

Jehan-Ara Poonawala and Arcedior

At Arcedior, we have worked with Jehan-Ara Poonawala for several projects that include Hotel Verde, Meril Life Science, and Sun Builders. The designer needed to incorporate a variety of products across her projects but couldn’t afford to invest time and effort in making multiple national and international trips to procure the design products. Therefore, she chose us to assist her in sourcing products easily from over 500 global brands – all on Arcedior, and it has been great working with her. 

J.J. Poonawala During Lockdown

The designer has adapted to the current COVID-19 situation well and has divided her business at her firm, J.J. Poonawala, in three different lines: 

  1. Ongoing business concerning the design
  2. Supervision for projects that are under construction, and
  3. Potential jobs

For ongoing projects regarding the design or drawing phase, Poonawalahas managed to work online with the team from home. She and her team are continuing as before with floor plans, schemes, and 3D designs using the best software. Suppliers are still in operation, though. The designer communicates with staff and clients via video /zoom calls and emails but has postponed site visits and face to face meetings for now since they require going through the major aspects of the project in detail. Potential jobs are also on hold – and no one can predict until when!

For supervision, Jehan-Ara conducted weekly meetings with mask & gloves on until a complete lockdown was enforced. 

We look forward to Poonawala’s new projects and we’re sure her work and professionalism is an example in the industry to be inspired by. 

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