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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Bharti Girdhar Sets Pace of the Interior Designing Industry with ‘Designpreneur’

Nalin Singh interviews Bharti Girdhar, an interior designer for the past 20 years and partner at Bougainvillea Studio

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

INDIA: In the previous episodes of Smart Entrepreneurship Decoded, we have seen almost every aspect of entrepreneurship, however, one eluded us in all these months. 

As India is progressing, and more people are being pushed to the middle and upper class, one sector has boomed silently, a highly unorganized sector that was ripe for disruption, but now is at $23 billion in size and might reach 33 in the next five years. This is the home improvement and interior design industry. 

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This episode’s Bharti Girdhar is a designpreneur (a design entrepreneur). She studied entrepreneurship in the late 80s when it was not yet fashionable to do so, taught the subject for short term programs, went on to do interior designing, practised it overseas and came back to India. And now she has written a book for students who want to pursue design, called ‘The Design Strategist.’

The seeds of entrepreneurship

“Entrepreneurship happened by chance to me. In 1989, National Small Industries Corporation had introduced a course in entrepreneurship, which was the first of its kind. Also, the blood of entrepreneurship flows in my family, I think that prompted me. Then I went and joined the course,” Girdhar told Nalin Singh.

The shift to design

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After her post-grad, Girdhar started a small company. She would design clothes and accessories for kids.

“I had started this in my small spare room. I was only 19 then. Gradually I grew interested in interior designing. In my head, I used to plan rooms and started sketching. I went on to teach home science; house planning at the Delhi University.”
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But the bug of design had bitten Girdhar, so she did her formal training in interior designing at the age of 32. “I didn’t get a chance back then, I got married and I had children.”

Lack of interior designers in India

“Ideally interior designing should be imparted as any other education like an architecture course because it is a very detailed layer course. The course curriculum is lacking lots of inputs that should be provided to build wholesome interior designers,” Girdhar said.

A lot of students studying interior design don’t know why they are studying the course or what they are studying. 

“Interior designing is like the stepchild of the family,” Girdhar said in jest.

Children who cannot get into engineering, medicine or architecture or any prestigious course, are now considering interior designing, “That is a sad thing. So when students enter the course half-heartedly, they are clueless, they need to be motivated and made aware of the scope of this course. If this is not corrected at the nascent stage, our country will keep lacking good interior designers.” 

The industry is yet very unorganized. The system has no certification for somebody (an interior designer) to start practising freelance interior designing.

To this, Nalin Singh said, “That’s actually good, unorganized and chaos is a fertile ground for entrepreneurship.”

About ‘The Design Strategist’

Girdhar’s book ‘The Design Strategist’ is mainly for designpreneurs.

“I strongly believe that if you can be a designpreneur, you can be very good at other jobs as well.”

Being a designpreneur means that you are a completely rounded personality, you can handle marketing, project implementation, you are able to make good designs as well.

Two years before the pandemic, Girdhar started mentoring and coaching, that’s when she met students who were struggling. Design is being taught well in colleges, for eg, how to make a design for a client? But implementing the projects, finding out what kind of clients or projects you are dealing with, the conversations you should be having with the client and what kind of contracts you should draw with the vendor – the interior designer noticed that this knowledge is not being imparted as also there wasn’t any book on the subject. That’s how ‘The Design Strategist’ was planted.

Girdhar’s book is a practical fill the gaps kind for designers to practise on the ground. 

Also Read: Black Hole: The Most Intriguing Paradox in Astronomy

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