Have you ever heard of "interior architecture"? Well, this was undoubtedly a novel concept for us as well, and we had to do some research to find out exactly what it meant: Interior architecture combines art and science to create, restore, or modify the interior of various buildings, such as homes, offices, or other interior spaces, with a focus on the interior and its functionality for human occupancy. It is a well-balanced combination of both interior design and architecture.
We at Hi!! Online had the pleasure of speaking with one of Sri Lanka's many talented interior designers, who was gracious enough to share his story and even provide us with a virtual room tour to better understand his style and what has influenced him to be who he is today.
Indula Jayalath is a proud student of Royal College and also a graduate of both Ryerson University and Toronto Metropolitan University in Canada. He completed a four-year degree programme in interior architecture, and has travelled around the world extensively. It is also worth noting that the Global Architect & Builder Awards recognised him as the "Best Commercial Interior Designer” in 2021. Indula returned to Sri Lanka after completing his higher education and worked for two and a half years under the supervision of Archts. Channa Daswatte and Murad Ismail. He greatly benefitted from their guidance as he was able to tremendously develop his skillset.
The majority of his inspiration for his projects comes from his travels, where he has the opportunity to observe various aspects of new cultures and ways of life. "I enjoy creating new, aesthetic things” Indula told us about his methods, "Every time I sit down to do something, I want it to be perfect and innovative”. He also enjoys mixing antiques with modern furniture, which is a very uncommon occurrence in design. He also made sure to emphasise how much skill is needed to balance these perfectly when taking this approach up for a client.
He avoids adhering to a particular genre or design style when applying his interior architecture skills to his projects. Indula constantly looks to investigate various design idioms from which he has drawn inspiration from his travels or just from what he has learned and observed. For each client he works with, he makes an effort to always take a different direction. Every project will always have a particular key characteristic that will draw attention to how valuable the design is. He abides to this philosophy because he doesn't want to be an interior designer who tends to copy-paste the same design with a different colour palette.
Speaking of his travels, studying in Canada gave Indula a lot of exposure and allowed him to see how their culture differs from Sri Lanka's in many ways. Since Canada is located close to the US, their architecture tends to be more influenced by North American design. Since Sri Lanka is an island nation, he observed that the climate is generally tropical. He needs to be aware of this crucial aspect when developing designs for different types of customers. "I've visited more than 35 countries." Indula mentioned "I always make sure to gather in the little, little details like their culture, the interiors, their architecture, as well as the history."
Japan has provided him with a wealth of knowledge because their culture spans so many centuries and their creativity is at an entirely new level. He continued by noting that because China and Japan were ruled by different dynasties, their design aesthetics have evolved over time. There has been a revolution, so everything has changed radically, whether you look at their designs, literature, or fashion. When Indula visited Europe, he realised how drastically different it is from Japanese culture. Additionally, Santorini, Greece's stunning blue and white architecture left him speechless. He hasn't travelled in quite some time, primarily because of the COVID outbreak in 2020, and he is currently occupied with some local projects.
Since his tiny-tot days, the love for interior architecture has been brewing inside his little soul. “I used to draw on the walls at home, and I recall that my paintings filled almost three stories of it” Indula said amusingly. He studied in the Arts stream for his Advanced level examinations and he was also selected to study Architecture at the University of Moratuwa, which he declined to go to Canada instead. Indula’s parents realised that the subject of "interior architecture" wasn't as well-known in Sri Lanka ten to twelve years ago as it is now, and they wanted him to get the full exposure from abroad. In his free time, he also browses the internet and leafs through his library of books to uncover new information.
He exemplified the value of pursuing your passion by telling us about people who run furniture stores and make a living doing interior design, as well as people who recently switched to architecture but are simultaneously working in interior design without the necessary training. It’s sad to see how some people enter the field of design without having acquired the necessary training or expertise, as this tends to obstruct any projects they take up. Furthermore, he indicated how crucial maintenance is after a project is finished because, without it, the interior's value would quickly deteriorate.
Indula has thus far successfully completed a few private homes, cafes, and boutique hotels all over Sri Lanka alongside a couple of apartments at the heart of Colombo. He also had the honour of designing the bar and dining area for Araliya Beach Resort & Spa Unawatuna as well as the interior in Café Noir Blanc situated in Thimbirigasyaya Road, Colombo. Additionally, he helped design the first drive-through bakery in Sri Lanka, which can be found at the Water's Edge hotel, eight to ten years ago.
When considering Indula’s work process, he begins by asking the client for information, after which they create and provide a mood board for better understanding. The design is displayed in 3D during the execution stage to help the other party visualise what is expected of him. If the client appears pleased with what they see, they move on to the physical design and ultimately finish the project as a whole.
The availability of resources typically affects how long a project takes. Since Sri Lanka is currently experiencing an economic crisis, it has been challenging to import the necessary supplies from abroad in order to begin production. Even if his clients have a limited budget to pursue a design, Indula still manages to complete his projects in an elevated manner.
Last but not least, Indula offered some counsel to anyone hoping to pursue interior architecture in the future: “You must educate yourself about design and grow passionate about it. No matter what field you are working in, if you are not interested in it, do not continue. Initially, I wanted to be an architect, but as I got older, I realised that there are already a lot of them in the country, and that wasn't really where my passion lay. In contrast to how architects handle the exterior, we are knowledgeable about interior details like finishes, furniture layouts, and electrical systems. There is much to learn about this expanding topic.”