Valuable lessons learnt from being a designer on international projects
I have been one of the fortunate ones to have worked abroad on projects and not just in first world countries like America, but also in Dubai and South Africa where the climate, culture and building rules and regulations are very different from what we practise here. More importantly, the local taste and client preferences are poles apart.
And while we all grow with each project, learn new lessons and unlearn some with each milestone, each of the projects I worked on abroad taught me lessons I credit a lot of my growth to. So here are some valuable lessons I learnt from being a designer on international projects.
New York Hospitality design projects:
We worked on two hospitality projects in New York. New York taught me the value of hand sketching my designs and writing measurements in detail. When you are working across continents your communications have to be precise, clear and detailed. And in writing. One cannot rely on instructions given over the phone. The habit that caught on then, has stayed with me since, and my hand drawings are my treasure.
New York also made me fall in love with skylights. Plan B, a restaurant we designed in New York is located at the meat packing district and is all about sky lights. Add to that the free vibe of the space, something that I try and imbibe in all my designs.
Another thing New York made me fall in love with is Epoxy. It’s a very common material there and whether it is a high end restaurant or a small retail store, they all use it. It’s so versatile and makes for a perfect backdrop for any design. We have poured epoxy on table tops and bar tops and love the impact it has on our designs.
In fact, New Yorkers love everything raw and unfinished and for me, that’s where I learnt that everything doesn’t have to be finished well. Sometimes finishing takes away character. And thus, I have mastered the art of unfinished finishing!
Dubai restaurant and bar design project:
In Dubai, I designed a restaurant and bar called the Silver Beach Bar and the biggest take away I had from that project is that Indian’s too can work very professionally! They just need to be moved to UAE to do that!
It is surprising that the quality of workmanship seen is Dubai is so high, but what is a bigger surprise is that they are all Indians working there. And yet, the quality of work and level of professionalism is way higher there than that in India.
The easy part about working in Dubai was that the norms in Dubai are same as the norms that the malls in India follow. So background research was limited.
South African villa design projects
We designed a villa in Johannesburg and are working on a boutique resort also there with a beautiful themed restaurant within that. In South Africa, religion has a major influence on work. Nobody works overtime and religious responsibilities come way before anything in the world. So, all the plans, schedules, etc have to be made keeping that in mind.
In terms of material, South Africa made me fall in love with thatched roofs. It’s so unique and distinctive of that region. So much straw is compressed and made in a panel to make these roofs, its so beautiful!
Because labour there is so difficult to deal with, we chose to create all our stone work, furniture, etc in India and sent containers from here. Not something that is feasible for all international projects.
Working across borders helped me create unique designs and explore different facets of design. I hope to continue this journey and bring to the table new and innovative designs irrespective of location and the challenges it has to offer.
About Interior designer Sumessh Menon
Sumeesh Menon is a leading interior designer in the country and founder of Sumessh Menon Associates, a firm that specializes in high end and bespoke residential, commercial and hospitality interiors. Sumessh is recognized as one of the top Hospitality Interior designers in the country, and is probably one of the few interior design firms in India that have such a stylish yet practical approach to design.
He has a very sensuous style of design and his creations are bold yet sleek, and make an artsy style statement. He likes to individually conceive his designs and meticulously crafts the details of each so no two designs look the same.
Be it the some of the trendiest restaurants in Mumbai, record breaking lounges and bars or high end residences, Sumeesh Menon has made his mark across categories, design sensibilities and mastered the art of seducing through design.
Some of his recent well-known projects include restaurants and bars like POH, Koko, Keiba, Masala Bar and Trilogy 2.o.
HOSPITALITY, RESTAURANTS AND CAFE ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR DESIGN PROJECTS DONE BY SUMESSH MENON AND ASSOCIATES.
Radio Bar | La Roca | Dragonfly, Andheri | Mizu | Neverland | 145, Andheri | Luxury Resort | 1522 | Yazu | Foo | Talli Turmeric | Dragonfly, Delhi | Mustard | KOKO 2.0 | Trilogy SuperClub 2.0 | Keiba – Mahalaxmi Racecourse, Mumbai | Mabula Game Lodge, South Africa | Farzi cafe | The Beautex Flagship store – Pune | Nom Nom | POH – Progressive Oriental House | Sumessh Menon Associates Office – Santacruz | Madras Diaries | Playboy | Ultimate Auto Impex Bike Showroom – Wadala | Masala Bar | There She Glows Salon – Colaba | Candy & Green – Restaurant & Rooftop Lounge | Koko – Asian Gastro Pub | Silver Beach Cafe, Dubai | The Bar Stock Exchange | Mr. Baozi – Pan Asian Gastro Pub | PaPaYa – Modern Asian Bistro | Plan B – Tapas, Manhattan, NYC | Trikaya