It's just over 56 days since we've been in a state of Lockdown when we interviewed Akanksha, at war with a virus we don't really understand, thrown into a space that is littered with uncertainty and doubt - Now more than ever we feel the need to stay connected to our virtual family and friends, our beautiful sisterhood in our #LadiesOfLune.
We are continuing our series where we document ordinary women, coping with extraordinary times in an attempt to help us all feel connected as we push through this strange phase together.
Akanksha Deo Sharma is our first feature since the lockdown. An incredibly talented visual artist, and designer at IKEA, she gives us an insight into how her work life has shifted and her hopes for the future.
Akanksha Deo Sharma knows a thing or two about being revolutionary. Forging a path in uncharted territory, she became IKEA’s first (and only) Indian designer in 2017, all while still in her 20s. Her instagram (@akanksha.sharma) reads like a visual homage to a sustainable future, colour, heirlooms and a personal style that doesn’t stand quietly in the background. In pandemic times, she’s finding a new creative flow that will potentially determine how the future of design in our most personal spaces will look - all from her home in Delhi. She tells us about tuning out the news and tuning into herself + all the little things that make her design work something to watch out for.
Sun sign: Virgo
What you do: Designer at IKEA, visual artist
What you would be doing if you didn't do what you currently do: Maybe be a professional bubble-blowing artist?
City/town you presently live in: Delhi, India
Your current favourite...
Beauty products: & Other Stories body mist, Clinique moisture surge face spray, Nuxe huile prodigieuse multi-purpose oil and Aesop skincare
Self-care ritual: Coconut oil with curry leaves head massage once every week. These days with so much time on my hands, I make and apply my own amla shikakhai and reetha powder hair mask
Instagram handles: @manrepeller @studioolafureliasson @brownhistory @tate @salvjiia @dezeen
Podcasts: New York Times: The Daily, Today, Explained, Harvard Business Review: After Hours, Monocle, The Journal
Film: Un Chien Andalou by Luis Bunuel
Haunt in the city: Perch
Indian and international brands/designers: The Row, Acne Studios, Aesop, United Nude, Hay, Studioilse, Han Kjøbenhavn, Rashmi Varma, Bodice
Piece of jewellery, outfit or item that you cherish: One of my mom’s very old satin silk saris. The fabric is like a stream of water; the sheen so subtle and sexy. I remember a photo of her wearing that sari when she was in her early 30s with thick long black hair and glossy red lipstick. I keep wanting to recreate that mood when I wear it.
First thought/word that comes to your mind when you think about Lune: It’s everyday jewellery made chic
Opinions/musings about the following:
On sisterhood: People come and go but the intimate bonds that you share with your women friends are a constant. It’s reassuring, courageous, and empowering to have strong women who inspire you by your side.
On learnings from disappointment: The feeling of disappointment is fleeting. There is something beautiful in revealing in sadness.
On routine and daily rituals: During a pandemic, having a routine is almost a lifesaver. I’m revisiting the importance of having discipline. It’s more relevant than ever.
On city living: The thought of what it means to live in a city is rather uncanny during the time of a pandemic and national lockdowns.
On the future: This question hits hard. The future is certainly going to change. A new reality.
How has the current situation affected your work?
I’m currently working from home and that has changed the way I prototype and develop things as I can’t travel to suppliers anymore. I’ve started to sketch more and try to make the best use of the resources I already have.
How has your current role changed within your company since the lockdown?
My role as a designer has not changed since the lockdown but my way of working while designing has changed. As a team we are finding ourselves more connected to each other through technology. And of course, as designers we are compelled to think of the urgent future post covid-19 and the new mindset and behavioural changes that we will need to inculcate.
What kind of positive impact do you wish this current situation has on our lives?
I hope this gives all of us the time to pause, reflect and introspect how we plan to build this new world that lays ahead of us.
How has a design giant like IKEA adjusted to these changing times and what can small businesses can learn from them?
I don't think I'm the right person to answer that and probably it’s a bit too early to answer that even.
What are you currently focusing on as a designer? How does an artist/designer rejig their routine?
Right now I'm finishing some ongoing projects along with utilizing my time on training. Currently, there are a lot of free courses and discourses available online ranging from art and design to technology and science. I'm also actively trying to not drown myself in news but consciously navigate the space around the future of living and the macro trends around how the world should/will shape post the pandemic.
Could you take us through your new design processes?
I think I like to improvise when it comes to the design process depending on the kind of project I get. There's a framework that's necessary but I like to be more fluid inside it. It's important to understand the design brief and to cater to that. Sometimes the project is big and calls for sufficient research and development, exploration and design phase leading to execution and sometimes you can get quick projects which need proper execution of already explored ideas.
What are you doing to take care of mental health right now?
It's been a graph of highs and lows but it’s ok to accept that as you're not alone. I'm trying to avoid a surplus of news and taking my own time to feel what I feel. Being physically fit is helping me stay focused and positive. I feel like listening to music and podcasts can also be something that can comfort you in these times. Each day I try to be patient and tell myself to be strong and have a vision for the future that's ahead of us.
This question below for the project:
Can you name a local hero who is doing something to give back in some way during the pandemic and needs to be given a shout out?
I can't think of one person since I see so many people from health workers to the essential
business workers that are risking their lives to help us live safely and more comfortably.