KOCHI: Architect Vandana Viswanath was living an ordinary life when she realised over half of the world’s population now live in cities; the more denser they get, the less greener spaces we’re left with. That was the beginning of Urban Portico two years ago. The Kochi-based urban landscape designing company currently converts small urban living spaces in Kochi into ‘green artsy hubs’.
According to her, Urban Portico aims to add a touch of green and art to everyone’s life by transforming balconies and terraces in urban spaces into beautiful outdoor living experiences. “As a landscape designing firm, success is knowing we have been able to create a positive impact in the lives of our clients, providing them with private and serene green space in the comforts of their own home,” she says.
Vandana specialises in small-scale landscaping. “In urban areas, we don’t have much space for landscaping. I concentrate on how to incorporate more plants and greenery in lesser space. Hence, the focus is on the vertical space - walls and ceilings,” she says. When Vandana and her architect friend Sruthy Ramachandran started the company, they started with just urban landscaping, where they give makeovers to one’s balcony or backyard. “I have always been interested in mosaic art.
Gradually, I began incorporating this into landscaping. Later, I began working with mirrors and larger scale mosaic art. That’s how Urban Portico became what it is right now,” says Vandana. She later took the reins of the firm after Sruthy left for Italy. What makes them stand apart from the rest of the landscape designing companies is colour. “With the help of mosaic art, I add more colour to the work. That has been a real gamechanger,” says Vandana.
Their breakthrough in the field came after Vandana’s friend Anood convinced her to design the backyard and balcony of her new villa. “Impressed by the work I did at the house, a lot of people approached me with new projects,” says Vandana.
How good are they since then? “Initially, our advertising and marketing was all through word of mouth. Later, customers began approaching us via social media,” she says. The road to success has certainly not been an easy one for Urban Portico. “Initially, getting plants from nurseries at an affordable rate was difficult. However, we managed,” says Vandana. To bring quality work to her clients, Vandana soon hopes to open a store for interior artefacts from different parts of the world, handpicked by herself.