The Lead Interior Designer at Uga Escapes (Pvt) Ltd; Yasasi Hettiarachchi, is a proud Musaeus College alumnus. A graduate of one of Sri Lanka’s premier design institutions, the Academy of Design (AOD), Yasasi’s initial exposure to the industry was at Suchit Mohotti Associates, as a Junior Interior Designer.
Yasasi explains that she was offered the opportunity to join Prefer Associates (Pvt) Ltd after completing her degree program at Northumbria University. She continues that under the mentorship of Eng Priyantha Fernando, she was offered a variety of challenging design opportunities in both Architecture and Interior Design and was able to get involved in other aspects of the construction process such as project management. This was due to the belief of Mr. Fernando that a designer needed to be an all-rounder.
Having worked on large-scale government projects at Prefer Associates, Yasasi then took on a new creative challenge in the form of interior design solutions for the corporate world when she joined Westgate International (Pvt) Ltd. Yasasi was able to obtain knowledge in the manufacturing side of the business given that Westgate is a design and manufacturing company.
She says the turning point in her career came when she was hired as the Lead Interior Designer at Uga Escapes (Pvt) Ltd. She was required to specialize in Hospitality Interior Design, which proved to be a challenging request at the time. “You live and breathe a specific brand while developing and improving the aesthetics and the functionality for the end-user, who is the hotel guest. As each individual experiences a given space in their own specific way,” she explained. When compared to residential and corporate interiors, designing a space for entertainment is quite different. Since a hospitality space goes through the circulation of a variety of end-users it needs to have a much higher durability factor compared to a residential space but also have the necessary aesthetic and functional forms that invite and create a hospitable environment. Finding this perfect balance is the challenge.
Questioning Yasasi on what inspired her to pursue a career in the field of Interior Design, she reminisces how she was raised in an artistic household as a child. Her father is a professional photographer, and she was heavily involved in his photographic work from a very young age. She recalls that Arts & Crafts and Photography were her early pastimes, where she could retreat into her world and express her ideas on paper and view the world from the perspective of her camera lens. Over time her passion for art and design grew into the desire to create and this led to her true calling, Interior design.
Describing her vision of interior design, Yasasi says she prefers old glam styles, which are more detail-focused and anchored in heritage. She believes in instilling stories into the design and thus creating memorable spaces.
Yasasi is also the Lead Interior Designer of Alpha Industries (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Finco Holdings (Pvt) Limited. Her work at Alpha focuses mostly on corporate and commercial interiors, giving her a wide range of projects to work on. Recently, Yasasi had the honor of being one of the panel members of “Positioning for the Future of Workspaces” where she was able to provide an insight into her thoughts on the future of corporate workspaces in a post-pandemic era.
In response to a question about her long-term plans for her designs, Yasasi replies that she would like to specialize in hospitality interior design because it allows her to accomplish something different every day. Moving towards the future, she hopes to open her studio so that she can build more unique spaces that encompass her vision of interior design and provide more opportunities for creativity and innovation in the business.
Her position at Uga also includes project management since she oversees the project from conception to completion. She is not only in charge of designing the space but is involved in overlooking and ensuring the design’s quality and durability. When it comes to her project management style, Yasasi says she employs an agile strategy that is milestone-oriented. Finally, Yasasi believes that the true attractiveness of a designed space is when form and function are fused in perfect harmony.