As a 10th-grader in Chennai, India, Shanmuga Selvaraj was starting to gain a firm grasp on his professional aspirations. A local architect was building a new house for his family, and he was awe-struck and inspired by what was happening before his eyes.
“I used to visit that house every day during construction, and that was the moment I decided to pursue my career in this creative design field,” he said. “The evolution of the entire house in front of my eyes was amazing, and the way the architect controlled the growth was immense.”
Fast forward to his first year as an interior design graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Selvaraj has certainly made a splash in the industry. In just the third year of the Interiors & Sources I Like Design competition, Selvaraj managed to accumulate more than 200,000 votes over a five-week period to win the competition.
The I Like Design competition was developed two years ago with a simple approach—teaching design students the growing importance of leveraging social media in the professional world. Working in conjunction with New York City’s ICRAVE office, a design challenge was developed, and more than 70 entries were received. After it was narrowed to seven finalists, those individuals were invited to solicit votes for their submissions through social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Selvaraj—set to graduate in 2015—blew our readership away with his Nike Connect concept, and now he will have a summer internship at ICRAVE and a furnished apartment for the duration of the internship, both located in Manhattan, New York.
“Winning the I Like Design competition means a lot to me as it is the first competition I took part in as an interior designer,” he said. “I believe that I have the potential to fulfill my dream as an interior designer, and the internship at ICRAVE will benefit me in many ways.”
Selvaraj found out about the I Like Design competition through a professor at SCAD, and it became the basis for his studio project. “After about a week into the project, my professor wanted us to choose a brand of our choice to take this project ahead,” he said. “With my immense passion for sports, Nike was an obvious choice.”
Starting with a research-based focus, Selvaraj discovered that by 2020 online shopping sales will be the maximum revenue generator for Nike. Because of this research, Selvaraj’s concept for a New York retail space brings people together to engage with their favorite apparel, athletes, and sports teams in a setting where consumers can watch their favorite teams on any number of surrounding surfaces.
Nike products can be ordered using interactive touch tables, which can also be adapted for streaming games. The space will also feature classic arcade games, alongside multi-use laser turf—an area that can be used for the launch of new products with 3D holograms. “The idea of Nike Connect is to foster a deeper level of brand connection through an interior environment that fuses space, technology, people, and products, which reflects the ideologies of Nike,” he said.
emerging design style
As a young designer who is still establishing his own design style, Selvaraj knows that working with clients of great variety is the ideal way to discover how he will work in the future.
“Coming from a country with rich culture has a huge influence on my design style,” Selvaraj said. “My design focuses on efficient space planning blended with rich colors. I’m also exploring various projects and challenges that come my way, but I’ve developed a fondness for semi-open environments. Those spaces have always fascinated me.”
While attending SCAD, Selvaraj said his professors have pushed him to his limits and have made him a better interior designer and architect. “My professors have always helped me grow and open me to bigger ideas,” he said. “They have helped me understand the opportunities and resources available that have helped me build my design style and philosophy, which makes my designs stand out.”
bright future for selvaraj
From gaining a bachelor’s degree in architecture to working for three years as an architect at FBA Consulting and Madras Design Work—both in Chennai, India—Selvaraj has already gained a wealth of experience. He also knows an upcoming internship with ICRAVE—an experiential design and branding studio—will be extremely beneficial for his future.
“ICRAVE caught my attention when I learned about their mission to foster curiosity in the world around, and that they choreograph memorable experiences by creating amazing places and by embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, challenging the notion that it’s all been done,” he said. “That really reflects my design ideologies. Every project I have seen from ICRAVE is bold and vibrant, which I would love to incorporate in my future design concepts.”
Aspiring to be an interior designer in the future, Selvaraj also wants to mentor design enthusiasts. He also knows that the I Like Design competition will help him get there. “I came to the United States to redefine myself and start a new chapter as an interior designer,” he said. “Winning the I Like Design competition has provided an amazing platform to accomplish these goals.”
more from the finalists
This year’s I Like Design competition was narrowed down to seven worthy students when the online voting process began. As a nod to the six runners up, here’s a brief glimpse into their thought-provoking concepts for this design challenge. Look for more inspiring work from these student designers and from next year’s entrants.
Parsons The New School
Design Statement: With fast fashion culture and online shopping drastically changing the landscape of retail clothing, the need for customization, quality, and craft are once again coming to the forefront. The retail environment must embrace online shopping and create a new retail reality—whether it’s 3D accessory printers, interactive OLED walls, event spaces, body scanning changing rooms, robot-assisted storage, lounges, graphic T-shirt printers, or mood altering environments.
University of Florida
Design Statement: This entry titled, “Earthy,” suggests a release from the dissonance between cognates of a digital, divine existence and the envelope that is tangible. Allowing occupants to receive the sky, the faceted structure of a diamond as an artifact for making a web that acts as a channel for light to pass through Tiffany & Company’s space celebrates bridging the paralleling retail spaces. Anachronism (the crux of retail) is selling a moment in time, illusions of the future.
Design Statement: New York City is a bustling place, but it lacks space. Through the use of technology incorporated into the design of the space, there is a creation of vast space that is filled with mass-less forms (projections). These forms also allow for a tactile retail experience where the customers must touch a projection screen in order for the product to be in their hands. It is an experience in and of itself—creating a memory and experience like no other.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Design Statement: New technology has led to the decrease of physical experiences. In response, Solestruck’s retail store proposes a new way to apply technology. Inspired by innovation in New York City, the store conveys its branding by embodying an avant-garde attitude within its design. The design incentive is to create a unique customer experience. With convenient shopping methods, positive customer experience, and an awe-inspiring first impression, Stolestruck’s design intent is to provide a high-technology store—an embodiment of New York culture—and a community connection point.
Boston Architectural College
Design Statement: For a more natural retail experience, technology merges with the natural elements to give a memorable experience for their clients. This Nike running shoe store design with adjoining gym are connected by a 300 meter track. Virtual technology will simulate nature in the specialized flooring, showing footprints when steps are registered on the LED flooring. With a self-service try-on machine and touch screens to learn more about running shoes, customers can feel different kinds of textured ground when they try on new shoes.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Design Statement: This design seeks to redefine current music store services and provide new in-store experiences—offering exciting interactive download environments, combining music and other forms of art, and gathering people who have common interests. Meanwhile, the store will also sell collectible vintage records and provide new release 3D printing. According to these different functions, the store is divided into different zones. Each is relatively independent, but also interspersed with each other in the whole environment, providing customers continued freshness to explore.