Namrata Sachdev is a Visual Merchandiser, Concept Designer and a Lifelong Learner with over 14 years of experience with leading Indian fashion and lifestyle retailers and premium international brands like Globus, Arvind and Shoppers Stop
Tell us a bit about your love for fashion. Where did it all start?
I loved reading comics as a kid and Archie’s was one of the favorites, the combination of my reading and sketching hobbies resulted in colourful doodled notebooks through my growing teenage years. The seeds were sown. Then during my second year of degree college the realization struck me that I wanted to be a designer and there was no looking back after that.
What role has formal training from an institute like Srishti School of Art played in your growth as an artist?
I’m a huge advocate for education but would also like to say that education is not limited to formal training alone, ultimately it is the zeal you bring to any situation that will determine the success you have.
I was unable to apply to renowned institutes such as NIFT and SNDT for personal reasons and opted for a part time course at a lesser known institute back then, but it didn’t deter me and my career shaped up similarly as other colleagues. Having said that, good formal education is an investment and asset so go for it if you can.
A dozen years later, I chose to up-skill at Srishti’s because just as a woodcutter must spend time sharpening the axe to cut better wood, so must all professionals step back, review and renew their skills from time to time.
How would you describe your personal style? Also, how is your workflow pattern or your approach towards a project?
My personal style statement in my projects is to contextualize a design to the requirements of a business, maintain a clean aesthetic (unless otherwise required) and develop on at least one emotional aspect that helps the consumer relate to it.
My creative process generally begins with an in-depth understanding of the brief / situation/ intended outcome, then I research both online and offline and develop multiple ideas. These are then weeded out or shortlisted, often there is a need to go back to the drawing board and re-think on the possibilities; it is a back and forth process. Thereafter, one to two final ideas are fleshed out in detail, tested or prototyped as needed and the final refined design is prepared. Last but not the least; review the work after completion and after a time gap because occasionally there is a need to give it that final tweak.
Which has been the most memorable project that you have worked on? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools you used for the same?
That’s a difficult one; I’m almost always passionately attached to every project I take on. The challenge and the possibilities every project brings, whether it is hand crafting a display or creating a design that goes up simultaneously in 60 varied locations. However, the projects showcased on Behance are curated and an indicator of their significance at each step of the journey.
You have done work for some big companies like Arvind, Globus and Shoppers Stop. How have you evolved as a fashion professional?
I started off as a fashion designer but took up visual merchandising soon after so every stint helped me grow and wear the many hats of a fashion stylist, window dresser, display, graphic and spatial designer.
Which designers or brands act as influencers for you?
I have always been influenced by brand ideologies; Apple is one such brand that revolutionized the way technology is perceived. The brand is intuitive, consistent, simplistic and minimalistic at every touch point, an incredible achievement!
Another American brand that is truly inspiring is Anthropologie for its organic, curated and individualized approach. Young, approachable and humane, it has a signature style that millions of women love and easily recognize.
Design firm Ideo boasts of some remarkable human-centered innovative design projects.
What are the challenges you faced as a designer?
One of the challenges I have faced was that often design was paid lip service but considered secondary to other business functions or times when two differing design styles were asked to be combined on personal whims and fancies.
The only way out of tough situations like these is be open and flexible but maintain the integrity of your work, know it inside out, stand your ground but also consider other points of view objectively.
What technical or other skills should a person be equipped with in this field?
Today, design has come a long way from where it was when I started off. There are several domains within each speciality, be it fashion, interiors, graphic, experience design and many more. My only advice to upcoming professionals is to choose a stream and then build interdisciplinary in both your education as well as work, for professions are becoming both specialized and seamless at the same time.
What message do you have in mind for the aspiring fashion designers?
Fashion ‘appears’ glamorous but in reality it is strenuous work, long hours, often manual work because designers should also be master craftsmen and not just delegators. Quite possibly you may earn less than your white collar counterparts. All of this is balanced out by the creative satisfaction you get. So make informed career choices by understanding all the aspects of any profession you choose.