Aatika Manzar – “I turned my challenges to my strength.’’
She has turned vacant spaces into design marvels. An architect and Interior designer, Aatika Manzar, has vowed not to let her physical condition and challenged vision limit her. When doctors said that architecture was not her line to pursue since extended screen timings and intricate line-design work would further complicate her condition, “I stood by the force within me and followed my calling,’’ says Aatika.
Passion, determination and a ‘never give up attitude are the core strength in the life of Aatika Manzar, Delhi based architect and designer who, in just a short span of her career, has established herself as a force to reckon with. Despite her physical challenges, Aatika established her design firm ‘Aatika Manzar Designs’ in 2017. Since then, she has completed over 150 prestigious projects that have garnered immense appreciation for their design and interiors.
Life lessons to fight out the challenges
Born and raised in Delhi, Aatika grew up battling certain physical deformities in her eyes, nose and lips. She faced bullying in school but embraced her condition with open arms and slowly forged her way forward.
“My mother is my rock, and she has imbibed a strong value code in me. There were some tough times in the initial years of my schooling. I was often bullied by the boys, because of which I had to change my school. The junior children would point fingers at me as certain of my physical attributes were not easily acceptable back then. I have undergone over 29 surgeries in my life and have embraced myself completely, just the way I am. My mother is a strong woman, and she has made me also a strong woman. My mother always showed her faith in me, assured and reassured me; this helped me navigate various stages of my life with confidence. As I continued to pursue my higher education, things got better, and I came across extremely friendly and kind co-students. With the scholarship, I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Jamia Millia Islamia and then a Master’s in Interior Design from Birmingham City University.”
Tryst with Architecture & Design
Aatika’s deep interest in sketching and mathematics led her to build a career in architecture. Moreover, her elder sister is also an architect, which exposed Aatika to various nuances and intricacies of the industry and piqued her interest.
Aatika underwent various summer internships through her graduation years to hone her learning and understand her craft better. She worked on hotel designing projects for a year post her graduation, which helped her realise her interest in interiors. Getting into the intricate details of the design process and her natural flair in aesthetics, she chose design as her core subject in her post-graduation programme.
Foray into The Professional World
“Post my return from the UK in 2014; I didn’t take any break and gathered rich experience for about four years working in various design firms. Working in interiors was my focus, and I strived to learn from the best. In 2017 I started my firm ‘Aatika Manzar Designs’, and since then, I have completed over 150 projects. We are the only Indian design studio to have designed over 50 departmental stores in the country.”
Across the board
Aatika has worked on diverse projects- hospitality, retail, design, residential, hotels, malls, and departmental stores. She treats each project differently and believes each story has a new narrative. Since her projects are across all parts of the country, Aatika strives to use the natural materials and elements of the specific states to respect their culture and weave in sustainability. “I truly love to incorporate local materials in my designs as it not only becomes easier to source and sustains, but also adds a unique and cultural touch to the space,’’ she adds.
Being a woman in a primarily male-dominated field of work posed its challenges, but Aatika took it in her stride.
“As a woman architect, many would often doubt my capabilities in my profession, but I feel that if you believe in yourself, others will too. I have an all-women team, and even my team has dealt with the stigma many times and broken it with our output,” quips Aatika.
Designs for differently-abled
Aatika’s upcoming project line-up includes restaurants, departmental stores and residences in Gurugram. One of her recent projects, Merak, is India’s first accessible-to-all cafe. The Delhi-based inclusive book cafe is entirely accessible for the differently-abled. The design includes ramps to access the entire cafe in a wheelchair and navigation lanes with tac tiles for the visually impaired.
I am not fearful of challenges. Rather tough times make us more challenging. I lead a balanced life and enjoy travelling. I have seen half the world with Vienna and Croatia being the top favourites. I enjoy adventure sports, and the sky is my limit when it comes to my work.