How Lavannya Goradia is bringing sustainability in construction and design with Studio Alaya
Lavannya Goradia describes her experience of growing up as one marked by a lot of separation anxiety and loneliness. “While dealing with depression for years, I learnt that nature and creativity both had a way to heal you. I wanted to do the same for the people whose lives I touched,” she says. Lavannya then decided to combine her passion for nature and creativity through her work as an architect.
That dream saw her starting Studio Alaya - a company that offered design, building construction and interior decoration services under one roof while placing a premium on sustainability. “But, it was a utopian idea,” she reflects. The company’s first project came to a standstill when her civil contractor partner decided to call it quits. “My other partner being an interior contractor and me an architect were at a loose end. The entire concept of the company couldn't work if we didn't offer construction services. I was the only one of two who had an idea about civil construction and that too using alternative building technology,” she shares. The two then decided to subcontract a project, but that proved to be an expensive affair. “We then decided to execute the projects by ourselves by taking it slow,” she says. “That way, we did a good job and didn’t have to compromise with quality. This also helped us strengthen our competency and boost our confidence. Today, we are able to handle more than 10 projects at a time.”
Studio Alaya has grown to become a one-stop shop for sustainable solutions for design, construction and interior services. “We are passionate about new technology that’s eco-friendly and keep on innovating,” she says. While Lavannya has designed and executed more than 400+ projects across 15 cities in India in her personal capacity since 2001, she has executed 20 projects in the last five years under Studio Alaya.
Lavannya believes that India has immense resources in terms of knowledge and traditional practices and that there is a need for them to be adapted into urban lifestyles. She says, “Global challenges like climate change and greenhouse emissions can be curbed if the construction industry, which is one of the biggest industrial polluters, but also the largest employer of unorganised workers, explores possibilities in green building solutions.” While Lavannya is keen on further strengthening Studio Alaya’s services portfolio, she also plans to start a business in upcycled furniture. Explaining her reason , she says, “For a few months in a year, we see a dip in the business. People believe that certain months can be inauspicious for construction. In addition, it's also practically challenging to undertake certain kinds of construction or design projects during monsoon. So we want to leverage this ‘off time’ to keep the business running by dealing in upcycled furniture.”
Lavannya also wants to explore possibilities of organising workshops and training sessions for builders and contractors in the alternative building technology and construction space. “This can also open up partnership opportunities for industry players and involve them in projects that we cannot directly handle,” she says.
Lavannya is looking forward to the Xcelerator Bangalore programme to put some of these plans into action. “The programme can help us connect with the right individuals who can help us see the loopholes and potential that we may not be able to see. We can also learn how we can address those issues to steer Studio Alaya towards growth and kick start our upcycled furniture business.”
Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned, non-IT businesses in Bengaluru. It provides support to the women entrepreneurs to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.