A banker turned designer, Vinithra Amarnathan love for decor and styling started at an early age. Founder of Weespaces, a design firm based out of Bangalore, Karnataka, her design style is defined by blending California chic style with unexpected eclectic and colonial elements. In an exclusive interview, Vinithra shared her views on practicing in India and abroad. We learnt more about the motivation behind Weespaces and the future goals of her practice.
Every cause has a story. What is the story behind Weespaces?
After years of being a banker, I quit my job when I had my first son and very soon I started to seek something that could give me creative as well as professional purpose! Design has always been something I naturally loved and I’ve always been the one with the lovely home, advising friends where to get what and how to put things together.
One night over a bottle of wine with a girlfriend, the idea of a starting a design business was born and from then it’s been a story of one thing led to another! I started as a kids designer, made my own website, my son’s then babysitter who was a graphic designer made my logo and before I knew it I was in business.
Are there any particular influences that you draw your inspiration from?
I’m most influenced by my immediate environment and travel! I have always loved the outdoors and blending indoor and outdoor living! Having lived in California where I started doing design I am partial to the clean simple lines of California living merged with organic and eclectic elements.
How do you approach your projects?
Our effort is to make design a very personal and curated experience for our clients. A home should reflect you and your choices and echo your vibe! We approach projects as a partnership and invest a lot in understanding who we are designing for and how to achieve that perfect vibe that makes each space feel collected and curated!
You’ve designed spaces in America and in India. How would you compare and contrast working in the two countries?
It’s extremely different and has been challenging! In the US the marketplace is a lot more evolved and when a client comes to you they come to you for a particular look or style that you echo and one that speaks to them! So there is a lot more clarity on the style and design. The challenge is finding the right pieces and being creative in an already saturated market of designers.
In India we spend a lot more time enabling our clients understand their style and design interpretations and working within the constraints of space and functionality to create good but affordable design. Our access to products is also way more limited and it is challenging to create those pieces for our clients vis-a-vis easily finding something off the shelf. That being said, India is growing by leaps and bounds and in a way being in India has given me a lot more diversity of experience in a short span of time than I could have imagined in the US.
You started out as a banker before Weespaces was born. What gave you the push to pursue interior design?
I have always loved homes and design! We moved a lot and helping my mom set up a new home was something I always looked forward to. However I never thought to pursue design as a career until I had quit my banking career and deep dived into what I wanted to focus my energies on. A question I remember answering was “What would you never tire of doing if it brought you no money or fame?”…. for me it was design! I could spend my life on Pinterest and sketching and creating design boards.
Do you think affordability and good design can go hand in hand?
Absolutely! It’s more challenging to work with the constraints of a budget, but also pushes you to think out of the box! I also think a splurge and save approach works great when you’re working within a budget.
Which project was the most challenging for you and why?
The large living-dining remodel we did in a very old building in Malleswaram was a challenging project. It was large and needed definition without closing spaces, a contemporary vibe without losing the character of being in a very traditional old world neighborhood like Malleswaram and had to work for a young family who wanted an update but at the same time retain some of that traditional vibe!
What would your advice be for young designers?
I think it’s important to invest in yourself and develop your unique sense of style. Don’t be afraid to take risks and follow your gut! You will make mistakes, but it’s the only way you’ll learn what you’re good at.
What does the future hold for Weespaces?
We are focused on growing without compromising on the boutique nature of our business! We want to be able to take on projects irrespective of location and that is one of our focus areas for this year and next. It’s a long time dream for me to have a shop of our own products for the clients who may not hire us for a design job but want to get the look. That’s something I’d love to make happen someday!