The founder and Managing Director of R. M. Perera (Pvt) Ltd, Ranjith Perera boasts a most eventful career, which began with him as a Sales Representative at Elephant House. He later took advantage of an opening aboard a Greek liner called Hellenic Grace, which belonged to Hellenic Sea Lines. Having joined as a Trainee Deckhand, Ranjith sailed to Greece with a number of other young men from Sri Lanka. There they were assigned to other ships that made up the fleet of Hellenic Sea Lines.
“In the time of a closed economy this was the perfect way to travel the world. However, after a particularly stormy experience while sailing over the Atlantic, I gave up my position as a Deckhand. I greatly value the experience I received during my short time with Hellenic Sea Lines, and consider it to be one of the most unique and educational periods in my life as I thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to different cultures around the world.”
It was as a Trainee Technical Executive at Carl De Mel’s that Ranjith was first introduced to the concept of Interior Design. Under the tutelage of Mr. De Mel’s two sons, Ranjith learned the intricacies of the industry, and eventually became an aficionado of the work. Ranjith lists working with renowned Architect, Geoffrey Bawa on the Triton Hotel in Ahungalla, as one of the greatest privileges and opportunities of his professional life.
“For a twenty-year-old, working with someone like Mr. Bauer was a huge opportunity and honor. At that time Carl De Mel’s was one of the only interior design companies in Sri Lanka, and with the opening of the economy under President J. R. Jayawardena, we received many projects and opportunities, and the company flourished. However, the 83 Riots brought about an end to operations at Carl De Mel’s. Following this, I started my own company on a very small scale, working out of a small rented property. I later moved into my own workspace and step by step the company gradually became what it is today.”
According to its founder, ceaseless innovation is the norm at R. M. Perera (Pvt) Ltd, with its staff being constantly on the lookout for the latest means by which to accomplish new endeavors. Having first begun with carpentry, the company has now diversified into other branches such as aluminum and ceiling systems. “Basically, we try to meet every one of our client’s interior design needs and requirements. We have worked on a number of projects with many international architects. Some of whom were under the impression that certain endeavors were impossible in Sri Lanka, but we’ve proven them wrong. For the last 35 years we have moved forward, relying simply on word-of-mouth. Thus, in order to ensure a positive reputation, we need to be innovative all the time. This is what differentiates us from other interior design companies. Our primary aim is to provide our clients with the best of everything, as interior design plays an integral role in a person’s lifestyle.”
Questioned as to how the company ensures to keep up with the trending needs and tastes of its clientele, Ranjith replied, “Despite the popular image of a carpenter as a man hammering away at a piece of wood, the entire profession is computerized now. At R. M. Perera (Pvt) Ltd, we have upgraded our machinery and are on the constant look out for new techniques in order to make sure that our clients’ needs are fulfilled, and to attract members of the younger generation to the field. We are currently in the process of forming a partnership with a Singaporean company in order to bring in and utilize the technology they are offering. Thus, we aim to take carpentry in Sri Lanka to the next level.”
In relation to the impact of the ongoing pandemic upon the Interior Design industry, the MD credits the import restrictions brought in by the government for providing local companies with the opportunity to step forward and claim the big project, which would otherwise go to international organizations. However, he cautions that local companies will need to put in a large degree of effort towards updating their machinery, techniques, designs and manpower in order to meet the required international standards.
On the topic of further opportunities during the prevailing pandemic, Ranjith commented, “Though the current situation has brought in a slight setback due to the collapse of tourism and decline in foreign remittances, I believe that we will recover soon, as Sri Lanka is in a much better position when compared to many other countries in the world. In fact, we have been listed as one of the safest countries to visit. So, this promises great potential. Also, this period during which many hotels are closed is the perfect time for their managements to look into revamping the hotel premises and other facilities. This in turn will lead to opportunities for the interior design sector.”
With the current situation providing an enormous boost to the usage of digital in many industries and workplaces, the further mechanization of the already evolving Interior Design industry is a given as corroborated by the expert.
“Today’s trends lean toward mechanization rather than man power, as manpower is more costly and it is difficult to find individuals with the proper skills. No longer are designs and plans produced manually. Everything is computerized. Mechanization is a valuable investment these days, and whatever profits we make from our projects is divided between the development of our factories and our staff.”