Gayathri Padmam- Architect, Interior and Furniture Designer

Hi I’m Gayathri, I’m an architect and I run a studio called Aanai studio where we design furniture, interiors as well as architecture.
How has your childhood been?
I was bird in Kerala and soon after my 3rd grade we moved to Bombay. I've been moving around all my life and all my childhood because my dad was a banker and to be honest it was a lot of fun because I got to meet a lot of people
What did baby Gayathri want to be?
I'm not sure if baby Gayathri wanted to be an architect but I do remember while growing up there used to these floor plans that used to come in magazines that I used to you know flip by and really enjoyed it and recently I had found this drawing that I had made when I was in third grade, it was a plan of a house, but yeah, I don’t think an architect, but I have always been interested in it. The option to go into architecture was not one that came naturally, it was more me running away from being an engineer or becoming a doctor.
What was your first foray with design?

My first foray into design, maybe I can tell you about the very first exercise that we were given in design school. It was to design a staircase and I struggled with it like by the end of the exercise I was in tears, my dad had to come and make the model for me.

What inspired you to start Aanai?
I was practicing architecture for around three years and I wanted to take a break and kind of look at another scale. The designs that I was doing were very macro in scale. The time period to actually see the projects or the products were much longer and I’ve always wanted to design furniture like I’ve had these sketches in my books all the while so I thought I'd give this a try.

What does the name Aanai imply?
Aanai actually represents all things close to our roots. The word “Aana” in Malayalam means elephant and elephants used to be used to carry logs for furniture so this is like a tribute to the elephant which is the “Aana” part of Aanai an the “I” stands for personalization.

Where do you draw your inspirations for your design?
I travel a lot and I read a lot so a lot of the inspiration comes from that and I also draw a lot of inspiration from other art forms. Sometimes dance and you know some times painting.

Who are your target customers?
Our target customers are everybody who loves natural materials and warm wood tone.

Which is your most favorite work done so far?
 The very first chair that I made for my dad and that was the first piece of furniture we ever designed and got crafted and to date I hear complains about it because of the wrong angle so I think that was the chair from which I learnt a lot.

What is your first love- Architecture, interior design or furniture design?
So when I started furniture designing I really loved it I still and I still do but I think that my first love is always going to be architecture.

How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far?
When we start as an entrepreneur its not always as easy as it looks and it can be very lonely and you know I can’t stress enough on how important it is to have a very strong support system around you and how important it is to go meet people and once we figured this out its been great.

What are your future plans?
Our future plan is to go deeper into what we are doing, bringing together our artisans and crafts people that we work with.

You favorite part of the day?
My husband an I are early risers, both of us sit with a cup of tea for almost half an hour every morning and we just chat and I think that’s my favorited part of the day.
How do you unwind yourself?
We take lot of these short trips at least once in two months to mostly places where there’s a lot of nature around that really helps us step back and you know kind of come back to work with a fresher perspective and the other thing that I do very often is read, I love to read.

How do you manage your time?
Every morning I make sure I come in half an hour before the rest of the team comes in and I don’t talk anybody I just go through the days work and on Mondays sometimes longer so I can go through the weeks work.

Who is your constant support and strength?
First and foremost I would have to give a big thank you to my life partner and my business partner Nikhil who makes sure I get through the day without losing my mind. His mom also plays a very big role and both my mom and dad have been huge support for everything I’ve ventured into.

How would you describe your personal style?
My design is strongly rooted in our traditions it is rooted in where I come from and balance of these traditions put in a very modern contest. The way I dress the way I present myself also reflects the same.

How do you resonate with Teejh?
As I was saying my work is very much rooted in my traditions and I feel the same thing with Teejh, it is for the modern women and you know its not just modern but also traditional something that kind of connects us to where we come from.

What is your work for advice to the blooming designers?
Constantly be active!

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