CHENNAI : When Sreelekha Raghavan decided to start Feet & Inches, an interior design and architectural company based out of the city, twenty years back, she knew she was going against the grain. With many architectural firms already having a monopoly in the city, the graduate from Sir JJ School of Architecture was firm in her belief of quality over quantity. In a tete-a-tete, with City Express, she shares about her upcoming exhibition, White Spaces.
Why did you decide to go solo?
I was certain that I did not want to be one of those typical architects who just draws up plans in the office. I wanted to see the grassroot level of work, speak to the masons, and see how things are executed because that will help my designs. I accept maybe three to four projects at a time because I feel that execution is the most important aspect in this kind of work.
What are you like at work vs at home?
I am very professional at work. I don’t like to get very close to my clients — of course, we are friendly — during the course of the project. I don’t like to evaluate professional relationships personally, as it usually backfires. At home, I’m chilled out. I read or listen to music. I like to make people laugh. My friends joke that they want to come and see me at office for one day to see the difference.
What are you currently reading?
I read around 3-4 books at a time. I’m interested in books related to World War II. My niece, sister and I love to read, and my niece recommended a book called All The Light You Cannot See. It is a book about a blind girl in France during WWII. The girl is taught how to navigate the town by her father, and it’s like architectural Braille in a way.
What do you like about reading?
I have loved reading ever since I was a child. I get nervous if I don’t have a book around me. I keep books and magazines in the car, my office, and all over my house. I was actually thinking of coming early and reading before we met. Reading is the one thing that relies on your imagination.
Does reading help you when you’re feeling low?
Yes. There are two things I do on low days — I either come to Amethyst and wait for the lights to turn on, or I go to Ely Bookstore in T Nagar and just walk down the aisle, touching the books and reading. I used to always borrow 14-15 books at a time, even if I didn’t read all of them. The running joke was that all the employees’ salaries would come from my business alone.
How does music feature in your day?
I am a Tamilian, so Ilayarajaa and AR Rahman are my favourites. I listen to them every day in the morning and at night. I feel like I’m being unfaithful if I listen to only one and not the other, so I make sure I listen to both in a day. I also listen to Hindi and English music. Asha Bhosle and Queen are my favourites.
Can you tell us more about the White Space Exhibition?
This exhibition is organised by Vaishnovi Reddy and I. It is a furniture exhibition with around ten brands from across the country. We wanted to invite designers who can merge crafts and traditional styles with contemporary design. We will have designers like Gunava, Saritha Manda, Bentchair, Filter and Attil Studio at the exhibition, as well as a talk by Thota Tharani, art director, on March 23.
The White Spaces Exhibition will be held at The Folly, Amethyst, on March 22 and 23, from 10 am to 7 pm