Meet Swathy Sivaraman: The Visionary Behind India’s Premier Interior Design Company Storeyboard Designs

Swathy Sivaraman is an award-winning Architect/ Interior Designer, and the CEO and Chief Designer of Storeyboard Designs – a prestigious luxury “interior design and build” company. Swathy’s design flair shines in contemporary, fusion, and minimalistic styles. Guided by a unique blend of creativity and functionality, Swathy, along with her business partner, has propelled her firm to the forefront of the industry. With a clientele comprising some big names from the world of business, redefines luxury and individuality through designs that set international trends.

Swathy’s distinct prowess lies in seamlessly fusing design and execution, a rarity in the industry. This holistic approach, emblematic of Storeyboard Designs, redefines luxury and individuality through designs that set international trends. Swathy’s fusion of design and execution leadership has catapulted Storeyboard Designs to new heights. Managing the full spectrum of design-to-execution underscores her unparalleled expertise. Her innovative approach cements the firm as an industry leader.

Swathy, can you share with us the journey that led you to become an award-winning architect and interior designer, and the CEO of Storeyboard Designs?

In the tapestry of my life, woven from threads of unexpected encounters and impulsive decisions, my story unfolds like a tale scripted by fate. Growing up in the embrace of a middle-class family, my childhood dreams were etched with the ink of educational aspirations. Frank Anthony Public School, a nurturing convent, became the crucible where my confidence and resilient spirit were forged.

Life, however, had a penchant for surprising me. Guiding lights, akin to fairy godmothers, appeared at crossroads, shaping my journey in ways I never envisioned. Each twist and turn reflected this serendipity, a pattern evident in every chapter of my life.

My passion for design beckoned me towards the world of architecture after a brief dalliance with Telecom engineering. It was as if the universe whispered in my ear, revealing my true calling. In my final year, the norms of our generation dictated working for a modest architecture firm, imbibing their methods. Yet, within me, a different flame burned. I sought something more profound than being a mere designer. Defying the well-meaning advice of many, I ventured into the vast expanse of WS Atkins, a colossal architecture firm where I was just a droplet in a vast ocean. Here, I immersed myself, absorbing the nuances of corporate life – its hierarchies, the art of self-presentation, and the stark contrast between mediocrity and leadership. This fascination with leadership became my guiding star, eventually steering my path towards becoming a CEO and transforming my firm into an industry powerhouse.

Marriage led me to the illustrious city of Boston, renowned for its universities and a hub of infinite possibilities. Here, under the vast American sky, I dared to dream audaciously. Applying for a single course at Harvard’s summer program was my first step. Fate, however, had grander plans. An encouraging professor saw potential in me, urging me to aspire higher. With trepidation and hope, I applied for the Master’s program in Sustainability Management. To my astonishment, I was welcomed into the fold, proving that dreams, when nurtured with determination, could indeed sprout wings. Even the tender embrace of motherhood couldn’t deter my resolve. I attended classes, my son’s stroller a silent companion, a symbol of my unwavering determination.

The day I stood on the graduation podium, my son and husband by my side, applause filling the air, I felt a surge of empowerment. It was a moment etched in my heart, a testament to my resilience and the unyielding support of my loved ones.

Upon my return to India, another unexpected encounter awaited me – an encounter that would redefine my destiny. A chance meeting led me to my business partner, a visionary soul who saw potential where others saw boundaries. Entrepreneurship was never a card I thought life would deal me, yet, like always, I embraced the opportunity. Together, we founded Storeyboard Designs. Our journey began with humble projects, handled by a team comprising of me, my partner and 2 designers. From the dusty corners of construction sites to the polished boardrooms of high-profile clients, we navigated the spectrum. Challenges came, but so did opportunities for growth. Each obstacle, met with unwavering determination and honesty, became a stepping stone.

Looking back, this odyssey from a modest upbringing to becoming an award-winning architect, interior designer, and CEO is a testament to the potent alchemy of perseverance, passion, and unyielding ambition. Every setback was a setup for a comeback, every hurdle a chance to leap higher. My life, like a tapestry, is woven not just with threads of dreams but also with the golden strands of relentless courage and unshakeable faith. This is not just my story; it is a testament to the extraordinary potential within every ordinary soul.

Your design style is described as contemporary, fusion, and extravagant. What inspires your creative vision in these styles?

In the ever-changing landscape of design trends, my personal style gravitates towards a seamless blend of modern aesthetics and India’s rich heritage. With clients from diverse cultures, our inspirations are as varied as the world they come from.

While catering to our clients’ unique preferences, I find profound beauty in infusing spaces with the grandeur reminiscent of India’s historical marvels. India, with its intricate details, vibrant hues, and interplay of light, is like a captivating drama. I love weaving this essence into our projects by melding our cultural heritage with the contemporary allure of Italian-style furniture.

This fusion creates a striking juxtaposition of modernity and our rich Indian lineage, crafting spaces that are truly spectacular. It’s more than just design; it’s about crafting immersive experiences that resonate with the soul, capturing the spirit of India’s splendid heritage. This stylistic choice not only allows us to create visually compelling environments but also serves as a canvas for innovative material explorations, from opulent gold hues to unique draping techniques, exuding grandeur in the grandest manner.

How do you balance creativity and functionality in your designs, and what do you believe sets your work apart from others in the industry?

Balancing creativity and functionality is at the core of our design philosophy. What sets us apart in the industry is our unique approach and commitment to reshaping the norms. While many shy away from the intricate execution process, we, as women, have embraced it. We’ve transformed the cluttered and daunting aspect of execution into a streamlined, transparent, and trustworthy process.

Our mission goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about infusing the industry with ethics and transparency. We offer an integrated project approach, ensuring that every material is selected meticulously in one go. Our deep understanding of our clients’ requirements and lifestyles allows us to create spaces that truly resonate with them and enhance their homes.

The aspect of home and marriage in India carries profound emotional significance. People work and save their entire lives to create their dream homes. This responsibility compels us to provide not only artistic design but also the warmth and comfort that people seek in their homes. Each room should be individual to the inhabitant of that room, reflecting their personality and preferences.

Our work stands out due to this holistic understanding, where creativity meets functionality seamlessly. We don’t just design spaces; we craft experiences, focusing on the individual needs of our clients while revolutionizing the industry with our innovative and client-centric approach.

You mentioned that Storeyboard Designs redefines luxury and individuality through designs that set international trends. Can you give us an example of a project where you believe you achieved this?

At StoreyBoard Design, our guiding principle is the seamless fusion of aesthetics and functionality. We firmly believe that exquisite spaces should do more than visually please; they should enhance lives through thoughtful design. Our approach is rooted in innovation, transforming every space into a haven of functionality, innovation, and elegance.

In a recent groundbreaking project, “The Bafna Mansion” was a 4000-sft luxury residence where we were entrusted as their design and execution company. Here  we engineered a first-of-its-kind solution for walk-in closets. Imagine a lock system where a fingerprint press at the entrance opens 20 sets of doors at once, locking automatically as per your settings. This innovation not only provides security but also convenience, eliminating the hassle of multiple keys.

Moreover, our design allows partial access to specific cupboards, timed to open only at certain hours. Featuring backlit panels, space for every item, tinted glass shelves, leather fascia, and a stunning island, this innovation enhances lifestyles beyond aesthetics. It redefined luxury to its inhabitants and brought them to experience enhanced liestyle. We take pride in our pioneering spirit, challenging norms to redefine luxury interiors.

We firmly advocate that luxury isn’t just about expense; it’s about taste. By integrating cutting-edge concepts and understanding our clients’ needs deeply, we elevate every space into a living work of art. At StoreyBoard Design, we transform spaces, where luxury seamlessly merges with purposeful design, creating environments that are both visually captivating and exceptionally functional.

What does the term “seamlessly fusing design and execution” mean to you, and how has this approach contributed to your firm’s success?

The concept of “seamlessly fusing design and execution” is the cornerstone of StoreyBoard Design’s success. For us, it means integrating the creative vision with the practical implementation seamlessly, ensuring that the design intent translates flawlessly into reality. This approach is not just about creating beautiful spaces on paper but ensuring every detail, every material, and every element is meticulously executed in the physical realm.

To ensure this seamless integration, we have established a cutting-edge 40,000 square feet experience center. Here, our clients can immerse themselves in our designs, touch, feel, and see the materials firsthand. This experience empowers them to make informed decisions about their homes. Moreover, since we are responsible for both the design and execution, there are no gaps in terms of finishes or specifications. What they see and experience in our center is precisely what will be delivered in their homes.

This philosophy has contributed significantly to our firm’s success by setting us apart in the industry. By embracing the challenge that many avoid, particularly the execution process, we’ve elevated the standards. We’ve transformed what might be considered a cumbersome task into a streamlined, transparent, and trustworthy process. This dedication to the integration of design and execution has instilled trust in our clients. They know that our creative concepts are not just imaginative visions but tangible, real-life spaces that come to life exactly as envisioned.

Our commitment to this approach has not only ensured the flawless realization of our designs but has also enhanced the overall experience for our clients. It has earned us a reputation for reliability, quality, and innovation. By seamlessly fusing design and execution, we’ve not only met our clients’ expectations but exceeded them, making their dream spaces a tangible, beautiful reality. This integration is not just a method; it’s our ethos, and it’s what continues to drive our firm’s success.

Your firm, Storeyboard Designs, has achieved a prominent position in the industry. Could you elaborate on the key factors that have contributed to this success?

StoreyBoard Designs’ prominent position in the industry can be attributed to several key factors, each of which plays a crucial role in our success:

1. **Seamless Fusion of Design and Execution:** Our ability to seamlessly integrate creative vision with practical implementation ensures that our designs are not just concepts but tangible, real-life spaces. This approach has set us apart, fostering trust and reliability among our clients.

2. **Holistic Approach and Ethical Transparency:** We go beyond aesthetics, focusing on ethics, transparency, and trust. Our upfront integrated project approach, where every material is selected meticulously, ensures clarity for our clients, building strong relationships based on trust.

3. **Innovation and Research:** Our commitment to innovation and continuous research keeps us at the forefront of the industry. We invest in research, empowering our designers with the latest trends, materials, and techniques. We have product leaders who constantly study, innovate, and transfer knowledge to our designers, fostering a culture of constant learning and growth.

4. **State-of-the-Art Experience Center:** Our 40,000 square feet experience center serves as a hub for our clients to touch, feel, and experience our designs. This immersive experience empowers clients to make informed decisions about their homes, ensuring they know exactly what they will get.

5. **Cutting-Edge Design Tools:** We utilize advanced design tools that generate realistic, real-time renders within minutes. This technology enables us to provide clients with a clear visualization of the final outcome, enhancing their confidence in our designs.

6. **Continuous Inspiration and Learning:** We encourage our team to travel, explore, and gain inspiration from various sources. Learning and unlearning are vital aspects of our approach. Our designers are exposed to a wealth of study materials, enabling them to draw from diverse sources, resulting in unique and innovative designs.

7. **Differentiated Design Expertise:** We differentiate between technical, aesthetic, and functional design aspects. This division ensures that our designs are comprehensive and well-rounded. By not relying on the knowledge of one individual, we create designs that are not only visually appealing but also highly functional.

In essence, our success stems from a combination of creativity, innovation, transparency, continuous learning, and a commitment to delivering exceptional designs. We are not just a design firm; we are creators of immersive experiences, making every project a testament to our passion and expertise in the field.

Can you share a story of a particularly challenging project that your team undertook and successfully completed, redefining the norm in interior design?

StoreyBoard Designs – a Bangalore based firm undertook a challenging project – the renovation of a 30-year-old apartment in Mumbai. This particular endeavor held immense sentimental value for the clients, a young couple expecting their first child. Despite consulting multiple designers, the couple found a deep connection with StoreyBoard Design’s vision. Recognizing the emotional significance of the project, they entrusted us with the task of transforming their space into a haven.

The apartment, a traditional 3BHK spanning 2500 square feet, was to be transformed into a rustic contemporary New York pad style apartment, reflecting modernity, freshness, and the vibrant spirit of its young homeowners. The clients had a vision that incorporated sustainable and eco-friendly materials, adding an extra layer of complexity to the project.

However, as fate would have it, the world was struck by the unforeseen wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial uncertainties loomed large; EMIs were due, and the entire world seemed to be in disarray. Despite the challenges posed by the peak of the COVID pandemic, StoreyBoard Designs approached the task with unwavering determination. The mission was clear: to create a living space that echoed the vibrant and modern personalities of the homeowners, infusing it with a trendy and youthful atmosphere. Working on the site during the pandemic required careful planning and coordination with the team remotely, ensuring everyone’s safety while addressing structural feasibility and extensive modifications needed from floor to ceiling.

Yet, StoreyBoard Designs, led by its determined CEO, took on the challenge head-on. With unwavering determination, the CEO personally traveled with the staff, ensuring she was not just a mere spectator but an active participant in the project. Clad in masks, glasses, and capes, the team embraced the challenge with a smile, turning adversities into opportunities. Navigating through travel restrictions, managing different geographies, and coping with a shortage of manpower due to pandemic-related challenges, the local team exhibited unparalleled dedication. The vendors, too, displayed seamless commitment to their work. 

Drawing inspiration from the eclectic energy of a New York loft, the design concept seamlessly blended rustic charm with contemporary aesthetics. Brick walls were integrated throughout the apartment, adding warmth and rustic appeal. The master bedroom surprised with a stunning contrast of white brick, creating a serene and modern sanctuary. The exposed ceiling with concrete textures showcased an edgy industrial design element, enhancing the overall modernity of the space. Attention to detail was evident in every corner, from the innovative mesh designs concealing plumbing pipes to the carefully selected furnishings. The end result was a remarkable 3BHK 2500 sq. ft. rustic contemporary New York pad style apartment, a living space that perfectly captured the young and modern personalities of the homeowners. The unique bar-dining space set the tone for a vibrant party atmosphere, while the brick walls brought warmth and rustic charm. The master bedroom’s contrast with white brick added a touch of calm and chicness. The exposed ceiling with concrete textures contributed to the overall modern aesthetic, creating a visually captivating home that reflected the owners’ vibrant and stylish lifestyle. 

The project was not just about completing a renovation; it was about creating a home where the couple could welcome their new addition. With dedication, passion, and a collaborative spirit, StoreyBoard Designs transformed challenges into triumphs. The successful completion of this project stands as a testament to the team’s resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional results, even in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Tell us more about Storeyboard Design’s 40,000 sq. ft. experience center. How does it reflect your dedication to providing exceptional customer experiences?

Certainly, Storeyboard Design’s 40,000 sq. ft. experience center is designed to revolutionize the way clients approach interior design decisions. By curating an extensive collection of materials and brands, our center enables clients to engage in a tactile, immersive experience. This hands-on exploration empowers them to make well-informed decisions about every element of their home, from false ceiling channels and technical lighting to raw materials, curtains, wallpapers, and furniture finishes.

This comprehensive approach ensures that clients not only see but also feel and understand the differences in costs and finishes. By having all these options under one roof, we eliminate ambiguity and hidden costs, fostering a relationship built on trust and transparency. Clients can confidently visualize how different elements harmonize together, creating a cohesive and integrated design scheme for their space. This holistic understanding not only saves them time and money but also instills confidence in their choices, knowing that what they see is precisely what they will receive. Our experience center truly transforms the interior design process, offering a seamless, informed, and harmonious journey for our valued clients.

As a corporate entity, what is Storeyboard Design’s core mission, and how do you ensure precision and professionalism across all facets of your projects?

At Storeyboard Design, our core mission is to simplify the interior design experience, making it a true reflection of our clients. We recognize the challenges clients face in the cluttered industry, such as coordinating various aspects of a project and managing vendors. To address this, we offer a dedicated team for each project – a designer, a site engineer, and a project manager.

Our approach centers around our innovative experience center, where clients can touch, feel, and see materials firsthand, enabling them to make informed decisions. This immersive experience, combined with our integrated project approach, creates a seamless, one-stop solution. From concept to execution, our emphasis on clear communication, attention to detail, and professionalism ensures that every project is a personalized reflection of our clients’ visions.

Your clientele includes some prominent names from the world of business. How do you tailor your designs to meet the unique needs and preferences of such high-profile clients?

At StoreyBoard Design, our dedication to luxury clientele extends beyond aesthetics; it involves crafting unparalleled experiences. Acknowledging the significance of prestige and innovation in their already opulent lifestyles, we immerse ourselves in continuous reinvention. Our team travels extensively, absorbing the latest global trends and incorporating innovative ideas into our designs.

By seamlessly blending these elements, we not only meet the distinct tastes and preferences of our high-profile clients but also introduce a touch of global sophistication. Our designs, therefore, surpass expectations, transforming dreams into tangible, luxurious realities. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that each project is not just a reflection of our client’s personality but also a testament to their elevated lifestyle, combining exclusivity, innovation, and elegance.

Could you describe the role of your business partner in Storeyboard Designs and how your partnership has been integral to your firm’s success?

Certainly, the role of our business partner in Storeyboard Designs is paramount to our success. In any business, teamwork is essential, and a partnership allows us to leverage each other’s strengths and overcome weaknesses through continuous feedback, innovation, and reviews. 

Our partnership has been integral to our firm’s achievements. Every decision we make becomes more profound as it is thoroughly discussed, ensuring that informed choices are made. By pooling our varied backgrounds and experiences, we instill a wealth of good values into the company. This collaborative approach not only helps us grow the company but also enriches our strategies, fosters creativity, and ensures that we consistently deliver exceptional results to our clients.

In a field where trends and technologies are constantly evolving, how do you stay up-to-date and continue to innovate in your designs and approach?

In the dynamic realm of interior design and architecture, staying abreast of trends is not just a choice—it’s a necessity. At StoreyBoard Design, we are deeply committed to continuous learning and evolution. We draw inspiration from our global escapades and prestigious design exhibitions, such as Salon Del Mobile in Milan. By immersing ourselves in the ever-changing landscape of design, we ensure that our creations remain not just relevant but trailblazing, reflecting the pulse of varying tastes.

Our commitment to staying ahead of the curve extends to our cutting-edge 40,000-square-foot experience center, a state-of-the-art hub where knowledge comes to life. Here, we delve into detailed material research, market trends, and innovation. Each product category is overseen by dedicated team leads whose role is not just to learn and adapt but also to transfer their knowledge seamlessly to our designers. This depth of understanding is pivotal, allowing us to discern which materials suit specific genres or styles of projects. Moreover, employing the same material in varied perspectives can dramatically transform a project’s aesthetic, showcasing our versatility and expertise.

In client discussions, this profound knowledge becomes tangible, guiding our conversations with a clarity that instills confidence. Combined with our unwavering commitment to ethics, transparency, and integrity, clients find assurance in our dedication. They entrust us with their dreams, knowing that we will work tirelessly to breathe life into the blueprint of their aspirations. At StoreyBoard Design, evolution isn’t just a choice; it’s our way of ensuring that every project we undertake stands as a testament to timeless design and unparalleled craftsmanship.

Storeyboard Spaces are known for their sense of individuality. Can you share a personal anecdote about a project that held a special place in your heart due to the level of personalization involved?

Certainly, one project that holds a special place in our hearts at Storeyboard Spaces involved a deeply personalized touch. Our design ethos revolves around the concept that every design should be a unique “Reflection of you”. In this particular instance, we had the opportunity to create something truly extraordinary for a client.

We were tasked with designing a wardrobe, but we wanted it to be more than just a storage space. We decided to incorporate the client’s wedding sarees into the design, delicately sandwiching them within the storage. This thoughtful customization added a layer of richness and color to the wardrobe. Moreover, it held a profound sentimental value as it preserved the memories of their special moments, making the wardrobe more than just a piece of furniture. It became a cherished repository of memories and a testament to the beautiful moments in their life.

This project stands as a testament to our commitment to making every design personal and meaningful, ensuring that our clients’ spaces not only reflect their style but also hold a deep emotional connection, making them spaces of memories and stories.

With a team of over 50+ experts, how do you foster creativity and collaboration within your design firm to consistently deliver exceptional results?

At StoreyBoard Design, fostering creativity and collaboration within our team of 50+ experts is a cornerstone of our success. Our commitment to staying ahead in the industry is exemplified through our cutting-edge 40,000-square-foot experience center, a hub where knowledge comes to life. Here, we engage in detailed material research, explore market trends, and foster innovation.

Each product category within our center is managed by dedicated team leads. Their role extends beyond learning and adapting; they transfer their knowledge seamlessly to our designers. This depth of understanding is pivotal; it allows us to discern which materials suit specific genres or styles of projects. We understand that employing the same material in varied perspectives can dramatically transform a project’s aesthetic, showcasing our versatility and expertise.

Furthermore, our approach involves clear demarcation of design into aesthetics, functionality, and technical aspects. This separation allows each facet of the design process to be perfected independently and then seamlessly integrated with others. By bringing together well-thought-out designs that go beyond mere aesthetics, we consistently deliver exceptional and comprehensive results to our clients.

What do you envision for the future of Storeyboard Designs, and what goals or projects are you excited about in the coming years?

At StoreyBoard Designs, we view our company’s future with the deep emotional connection akin to motherhood. Planning for the future is not just a strategic endeavor but also a heartfelt alignment of our visions. Our goal is to continue being a solution provider in the industry, enhancing customer experiences.

We are entering an exciting phase of expansion, with plans for beautiful bungalows and boutique stores on the horizon. One significant milestone involves renovating our experience center. It’s more than just a display space; it’s evolving into a sanctuary where every client can learn and make informed lifestyle decisions. We are dedicated to creating homes that truly reflect the essence of our clients, making their living spaces a testament to their unique personalities and aspirations. This vision propels us forward, guiding our growth and inspiring the projects we are excited to embark upon in the coming years.