Harsha Kotak’s original vision when she launched WOD (Women in Office Design) back in 2018 was “to inspire and empower women involved in the profession of office design & creation”. The inaugural seminar for WOD India Chapter, entitled Power Women of Design (India), certainly demonstrated that she is achieving her goal.
Attended by over 150 colleagues from around the world, the session provided the opportunity for ten of India’s key players in office design to discuss and highlight their experiences in building and developing their careers. Hosted at Steelcase’s showroom in Bangalore, the event was inspirational and great fun – and showed how the current Covid-19 restrictions have actually ‘fast forwarded’ the potential for global networking through technology.
“WOD is not about feminism,” explained Harsha. “It’s about providing a platform for women around the world to learn from each other.”
Speakers included Smita Gupta, Principal Director at Gensler; Sabina Reddy, Director, M Moser; Devanshi Patel, VP Workspace, ANSR Global; Payal Sandhu, Partner, Alabama Design; Asha Kushalappa, Director, DWP Interics; Megha Awasthy, Director Design Alliance, Steelcase; Fancy George, Workplace Consultant; Workplace a Life Centred Solution; Pallavi Shrivastava, Director, Adrianse; Sumita Sundaram, VP, Vistian Global.
Gensler’s Smita Gupta highlighted that the practice in India is already 60% women. “We need to make it better for the next generation,” she explained. “Don’t make gender bias an issue. Women in India have learnt to strive.”
Pallavi Shrivastava provided some salient advice: “We become the story we tell ourselves,” she commented. “Stop judging ourselves from others’ perspective and believe in ourselves – that will empower women around us.”
UK member, Joanna Knight, who has been in the office and contract furniture industry for over 30 years, concluded: “I was humbled and certainly inspired by the attitudes and advice offered by the speakers. It was so exciting to listen to the experiences of fellow women and I believe it highlights how we can all help each other – men and women.”
Women in Office Design was founded in May 2018 by Harsha Kotak, an interior designer with a vision to inspire and empower women working in all areas of the office design industry. WOD is a growing network of 1500 plus global members with chapters in London, Birmingham, Spain and now India. There are plans to expand to other major cities nationally and internationally.
You can watch a recap of this WOD event below;