For This Woman Entrepreneur, Architecture Is No Less Than Meditation

Kolkata-based Pooja Bihani's portfolio now includes several residential, commercial and lifestyle projects across Kolkata, Cuttack, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru.

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“To me, architecture is manifesting your inner design passion, no less than meditation,” says Pooja Bihani, a popular architect and the founder of Spaces and Design. Married early, she moved to Kolkata as someone whose career in architecture was just starting and she says the marriage also brought in a lot of responsibilities on the personal front.

Spaces and Design
Pooja Bihani

According to Bihani, it all started with the willingness to make a small difference.

Her journey into entrepreneurship started in 2006. “From one bedroom to full-fledged standalone projects today, the journey continues,” she says. Her portfolio now includes several residential, commercial and lifestyle projects across Kolkata, Cuttack, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. The firm has so far designed over 2,00,000 square feet of area.

Sustainability and Wholesomeness

On how the industry is changing, Bihani says, “interior architecture, not just interior decoration, is the new principle of future designs.”

“Spaces conceived and designed on a more wholesome note and not stuck on individual elements and spaces; designing – inside out, architecture into interiors and vice versa is the new mantra.”

A gold medalist from her batch, Bihani also believes in the added aspect of pranic feng shui when designing spaces. She says it adds the idea of harmonizing energies that enriches the life of the user in their habitat.

Apart from these changing ideas, she said she would like to see the industry move more towards sustainability through their designs. “With limited resources and as a service to our planet this is the contribution we, as professionals, can make,” she says.

Her dream project is to design eco-friendly and green homes away from the city with organic gardens in line with the principles of pranic feng shui.

Breaking Barriers

“Initially it is tough to establish as a woman in this field but eventually it is your focus and dedication to the craft that makes people recognise you and your work and go beyond any gender biases,” says Bihani.

One of the happy surprises in her journey so far has bagging a 25,000 square feet project. According to her, more than any external barrier, this was a turnaround that was largely internal.

“The client handed over the project based on this confidence and not based on my past portfolio,” she says. “As they say, it’s all in the mind.”

On failures, Bihani answers like a classic designer and says when one connects the dots of the past and studies their own life, it becomes easy to draw a pattern.

“Instead of guarding against failures, one then learns to create systems, methods and build people to at least not repeat the same mistakes.”

Racing Against Time

According to Bihani, in her profession, one is always racing against time. The biggest challenges include reaching critical timelines and handovers as well as dealing with new material introductions, their application techniques and execution turnovers.

But when it comes to competition and setting themselves apart, she says the idea itself is a cliche.

“Every firm, every personality, every project, every client and his lifestyle is different.”

She says even the different projects that her firm takes on are very different from each other.

“The purpose of Spaces and Design is to create environments that epitomise harmony, aesthetics and optimum functionality,” she adds.