Updated: May 25, 2021
Architect, Interior Designer
Founder – Aatika Manzar Designs
“Whatever good things we build, end up building us.”
This quote stands true for the life and career of Aatika Manzar, the architect, interior designer and founder of her firm – Aatika Manzar Designs.
This math-lover was passionate about numbers and with design dreams to pursue, Aatika merged her passion with her skill and studied to become an architect from Jamia Milia Islamia and obtained a Masters in Interior Design from Birmingham City University, UK.
“The start was a bit of a struggle, as I had chosen to work in a male-dominated industry but soon, I was able to get comfortable with my capabilities, and my clients and employees did not treat my skill as that of a woman’s. This was a boost to me as well as it helped me accept myself in my journey as an architect and an empowered woman in the field, who wouldn’t think before climbing a scaffolding!” Aatika beams.
Aatika’s most memorable projects include The Playboy club, Freemasons Brewery, Bombay Bakery, Station Bar, Out of the Box, Modern Bazaar, Gaurav Gupta store at the Emporio, the Farzi Café in Dubai and New Delhi and many more. Her studio prides on working proficiently in spaces both interior and exterior and even large architectural areas with the most intricate details. They have worked on varied projects ranging from hospitality, retail and design to residential, hotels, malls, and departmental stores.
“My firm boasts of being the only Indian design studio to have designed over 40 departmental stores in the country, all with new, unique and innovative concepts and themes. The project I was most passionate about, has most definitely been the Book Café Merak, which was prioritized to be completely accessible for the differently-abled. The project was unique and challenging but the cause was close to my experiences as a person with Monocular vision.”
Aatika was born with certain visual impairments and throughout her growing years, despite being raised in a nurturing, optimistic environment, the world considered her as ‘different’ and she has felt strongly about empowering those who may be treated the same way. Presently, Aatika is working to obtain a driver’s license, “despite the form specifically mentioning the ability of a person with vision in one eye to obtain the license, I am still struggling to fight what is mentioned in the system! I was born with this condition and have learnt to live my life and train myself to do the same things a person with vision in both eyes can do. But this seems to be a hindrance to others’ lives BUT mine,” she casually shrugs, “I do not understand what the world assumes I struggle with. I will certainly not give in because my achievement will enable others to fight for their right and live an independent life.” Aatika adds optimistically.
“I am a confident, positive, highly capable person and I certainly do not have any qualms about my visual difficulties. I wanted to make Café Merak a world where persons with disabilities would feel the same way” the architect explains.
This book cafe is certainly a memorable project in terms of execution, the design of which included ramps to access the entire area in a wheelchair and navigation lanes with tactile surfaces for the visually impaired. The washrooms were designed keeping inclusivity in mind. With a lot of research and studies, this café became India’s first ‘accessible to all’ café.
Aatika is a smart woman who understands her client and utilizes their style as a resource to best represent them, “I have used a client’s brick factory to supply bricks for the walls in an aesthetic manner, or have made a chandelier out of PVC pipes for a client who owns a plastics business.” Aatika is known for establishing a disciplined, yet the comfortable relationship with her clients, enough to have them keep coming back for more! “I have always believed in the saying – do what you love and love what you do. This enables me to enjoy every day of work and I never tire from creating aesthetic harmony built on a strong foundation, treating each design as a beautiful narrative.”
Interview conducted and transcripted by