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‘AID gave me a strong foundation in understanding design and the role it plays in people’s lives’

Interior designer Aneel Constantine, an alumnus of the Apeejay Institute of Design (AID), says the institute’s foundation programme was ahead of its times

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An avid photographer, Aneel Constantine firmly believes that good design needs to evoke all the senses rather than be only a visual experience. Having more than 20 years of experience, the Apeejay Institute of Design (AID) alumnus owns a design studio based in Delhi. Today, the Principal Designer of Studio Constantine, with his enthusiastic group of designers, specialised furniture makers and trusted civil contractors renovates spaces to suit individual needs. In an interview, he talks about his entrepreneurial journey. Edited excerpts:

Why did you choose the Apeejay Institute of Design? What were your learnings?

I grew up seeing my mother who was into fashion designing, and my maternal grandfather who was fond of building homes and unique things he saw in the magazines and during his travels. So, it came as no surprise to my friends and family when I chose to pursue a career in interior design after completing my 10+2. I did a one-year course before applying to different institutes for a degree programme. At that time, there were very few institutes that offered a degree or an advanced diploma in interior design. The Apeejay Institute of Design was one of them, and as luck would have it, it became a co-ed institute for design that year as I firmed up my plans to become an interior designer. AID gave me a strong foundation in understanding design and the role it plays in people’s lives.

Tell us about your journey at AID and any memorable moments you cherish till date?

I liked the foundation programme which at that time was three semesters. Again very few colleges had a foundation of three semesters of one and a half years. The remaining two and a half years were enjoyable where I learnt a lot about different elements of design and how to effectively convey a unique idea and eventually design it. I sometimes still feel a lot was left to be learnt even after the completion of my course. I think the design programme was at an early stage then and now looking at the students graduating, it has come a long way. 

The one-week photography module is something I remember fondly.  That week and several months after that when I used this Pentax, an SRL (single-lens reflex) camera that I had borrowed from my dad’s colleague is something I am still glad and happy about to this day. It’s a hobby I still pursue and it inspires me for all my design projects even after 20 years.  

Did you always aspire to be a designer in your childhood? 

As a kid I remember using the sand mounds to create pits for long jumps with my friends. I used to play with all the construction material scattered around the vast fruit orchards I grew up around. Building camps with branches of trees I cut with my brother and our friends (getting scolded in the process). I enjoyed using the tools like saws of the construction labourers when they were gone to build these structures. We used to spend our summer holidays creating various structures and it used to be so much fun. I had never thought of becoming an interior designer. I don’t think it was even a profession then.

It’s as I grew older that I became aware how I love the feeling of spaces that surround me. I love modifying them and building them.  And then when I realised I want to be an interior designer.

One thing you like and one you dislike about your profession?   

Today, it’s been more than 20 years but I feel the same thrill. I become happy when I see my projects take shape. What I don’t enjoy is people who are averse to trying something new when it comes to materials, design, colour, form and the many things in design.  

You own a studio. How did you embark on this journey? Any interesting projects you are working on right now?

My journey into owning my own studio was by accident. Accident because I woke up one day and decided I wanted to work on my own and then this long, hard and enjoyable journey started. There are a few new concepts around the Lexus Car Showroom cum Art Gallery that we have.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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