Despite her father’s untimely passing when she was starting to experience the world, Amoda Ratnayake, the Managing Director of Amoda Rathnayake Associates, recalls her joyful life spent at the heart of the island. The protagonist, thriving in the profession as an aspiring young interior designer, recounts her mother. The latter has always been her inspiration, planting solid roots of self-confidence in her and ultimately driving herself to a trailblazer in her morale. In her belief, the ups and downs that were common in her walk of life have been an underestimated backbone that has pushed her vastly. 

“From a very young age, I had a passion for an outdoor lifestyle, which led me to pursue many sports, scuba diving, hiking, and travelling. I remember wanting to grow up to become a pilot as a kid. But I also had a penchant towards arts and music, as they allowed me to express myself. As I grew up, I realised my true calling lay in the arts and chose to enter the field of design. I believe my love for creating beautiful spaces is inspired by the beauty of colour and form that I see and experience in nature,” Amoda recounted.

The first-ever feeling of ultimate satisfaction in a joyous path of triumph and success is one that never seems to fade. She felt this when her team finished the first and most significant project. “It’s also the largest project that we’ve done so far. It was an office space for Niru Diamonds, which borrowed heavily from modernist and brutalist styles and had a unique facade inspired by the structure of diamonds,” mentioned Amoda, joyfully. 

Looking back at when she first started and the industry’s evolution, Amoda is one of the most pleasing industry icons. “I am delighted with the evolution of interior design that is happening currently in Sri Lanka,” she expresses, “More and more clients seem to be happy to embrace modern concepts and design ideas from around the world, without sticking to the traditional moulds of interior design. As a designer, this gives me more freedom to explore new architectural and interior design styles, which is terrific when blending multiple techniques to create unique designs for each project. This freedom also allows designers to think out of the box and provide creative and practical solutions to meet our clients’ requirements. This is essential to the industry in a day and age where the cost of real estate is skyrocketing, increasing the value of floor space. I also find that clients are not shy to imbue the space designed with their own persona, be it a commercial, residential or industrial project. As a result, many completed projects carry an individual uniqueness that sets them apart from others. “

Amoda feels that her ambition, passion, and unwavering love for the work she does pushes her to push herself beyond her comfort zone, forcing her to innovate, succeed in originality, and stay on top of her gameplay. According to her, there is no way to reach the pinnacle of one’s ability unless their work ethic is driven by genuine enthusiasm for their field. 

My design process is guided by a few questions like ‘Why?’, ‘What?’, ‘Who?’ and ‘Where?’ on which I layer the aesthetics of the projects. In other words, form follows function, and the end result should be beautiful,” Amoda adds, diving deep into what makes ARA their exceptional selves. Considering design is a two-way avenue in which each side must supplement the idea with their own insights, engagement and circulation of knowledge is critical to achieving a desirable finished product. Being served by Jaybuilders Pvt. Ltd., which is their own building firm, is an extra benefit, according to Amoda, guaranteeing that their voyage to grandeur sails smoothly.

The heroine is ecstatic to see the pristine and sophisticated future blooming in the interior design sector. The greater exposure of clients to new ideas encourages them to be even more imaginative with the material, providing possibilities and challenges for the ARA team to improve, primarily because designers are no longer hesitant to explore new concepts. Further aided by technical advancements that have allowed an outpouring of collaborations and the disclosure of new ideas, the sector now has the dominant position it requires to swiftly move up the ladder of innovation while chasing uniqueness more than it did before the technological revolution.

In her perspective, the most crucial aspect in modernist architecture is ‘form follows function’. “The modernist movement thrived by embracing a minimalistic approach to architecture, shunning ornamentation while always focusing on rational use of functional structures and modern materials such as glass, steel, and concrete. In Sri Lanka, we find these trends becoming increasingly popular in commercial and residential buildings. These can take the form of open floor plans that are both functional and aesthetic, structures that follow geometric shapes, imaginative space utilisation that reduces wasted space, and seamless transitions to outdoor spaces that are greatly influenced by tropical modernism”, Amoda elaborated on her opinion. 

Balancing design utility and aesthetics may be tricky because a perfect balance of all three is required to create a masterpiece that captures a client’s core. As per Amoda, the ARA team has benefited from the ‘less is more’ attitude in this regard. “Our concepts utilise modernist and minimalistic design principles, which allow our projects to remain contemporary as well as extremely functional. It is fundamental to understand clients’ functional requirements and meet their workflow, comfort, and space requirements. The aesthetic component comes from the careful attention we pay to the clients’ personalities and styles. We then utilise shapes, colours, furniture, and lighting accessories to give the project an aesthetically satisfying finish. This blend of functional and aesthetic requirements is what makes ARA unique.”

Having risen to such heights, Amoda does not plan on slowing down anytime soon. “My greatest wish is to create spaces that nurture the growth of beauty within people. I believe that beauty begets beauty and would be happy if my designs could evoke warmth and joy in others and remind them that life is beautiful. A smile, I think that’s what I aim for,” concluded the protagonist, confidently.