Buzz with Danu - Kamilka Perera

Dec 27 2023.

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Today on the Buzz, I have Kamilka Perera who is known as the painting architect, her love for creativity and colours has made her the most wanted candidate in giving life to spaces. I speak to her about her projects for 2023 and its significance.

How has 2023 treated you, as the country has been working toward normalcy?  2023 has in many ways been kind to me, on my work front I shifted to my own studio office space back in April, finally moving out from my bedroom office at home. I walked in this year pregnant and birthed my daughter in July, which has been the most poignant and breathtaking milestone this year.

As a country, I think we have faced many challenges, with the economy falling and the middle-income tier group being crushed in between, we have lost so many citizens due to migration, and the inflation at the moment has crippled most of us, but Sri Lanka has in her, a tenacity to bite the bullet, it's ingrained into her soul, whilst we may struggle, we will also see this through. However, we must, I stress WE MUST, understand whilst the storm may be for us all, we aren’t in the same boat, some are yachts and some are just floaters and some may be clinging for their lives hanging onto something, so being compassionate through times like this is what’s going to make that difference.

What are some major projects you worked on? I’ve had an interesting mix of projects from small to somewhat large scale, and navigating all that through pregnancy, birth and postpartum has been a huge learning curve.

Tell me about your involvement with the all-new restaurant at the Nelum Kuluna. What were you hoping to achieve with the look and finish there? The Blue Orbit opened its doors to the public early this month, and my team and I, took on the interior design component of the restaurant.
The client’s brief was to design a restaurant that was befitting of its tagline “one and only” adhering to extremely tight budget parameters. The aim was to create a concept that rose from the idea of “Celestial “, and add an ambience that is unique to the dining experience the client aimed to fulfil.  When anything becomes, the “one and only” there comes with it much anticipation and hype. The design wasn’t meant to be an in-your-face overly designed space, instead, the aim was to make the view your hero, and create around that idea, allowing the ambience to the background as you orbit and experience 360-degree panoramic view, at what is Sri Lanka’s highest, and the only revolving restaurant, which is also a first for South Asia.

Whose work has inspired you, locally and internationally? For me inspiration is a vibe, I gather knowledge from many creatives, whether it’s an architect, an interior designer, a potter or a florist, I love using Instagram to view works that bring in a certain energy that resonates with me, and I draw from that feeling.

There are a lot of hotels coming up, tell me what’s the hotel you are waiting in anticipation to see? The ITC Colombo should add an interesting mix to the Colombo skyline. We now see people flocking to Havelock City Mall, and the next new thing will replace that. I’m more interested in how we rise to the occasion of upcycling our older buildings and spaces rather than letting them lie vacant.

What are people looking at in terms of design today? Is Sri Lanka ready for minimal interiors? Minimalism has existed for a while, and it’s a personal preference. I wouldn’t say it's better than another style. People are looking at cost-effective solutions, given the market price of construction across our industry. As architects and designers, this imposes many challenges as the final look and feel of a space most times, is largely dependable on how much a client is willing to invest their money into it.

I would always use the analogy of “Wanting a Siberian Tiger with a house cat budget”, which is nearly impossible. Space design is like that to an extent.  However, amazing solutions and spaces have come up in situations like this, and I would take it as a positive challenge.

What are the projects you are working on today? There will be more happening at the Lotus Tower, we are also doing some house and apartment interiors, and a mini cineplex in the hills. I would really love to have a Boutique Hotel and a restaurant at a hotel. Fingers crossed.

Do you like the commercial projects or the personal homes and properties? I can’t say I have a preference over one. For me and I tell my clients this, it's how much creative prowess we have in a given project. I pick and choose the work I take on, as I need to have a sense of joy in what we create, therefore the scope and design freedom is that factor which is a make or break for me.

Tell me about your work in art. Where can one see some of your new projects? With the birth of the baby, it’s been difficult to carve out time to paint and immerse into that realm for hours, and I have been aching to paint at times. Some of the works can be seen at my studio in Colombo 05, which is also where my design studio is, Isipathana Mawatha. All of my works are also uploaded and visible on Instagram, which is where I have garnered visibility.

How do you do it all, baby; life work and also being creative? Sometimes, to be honest I do not know – some days I just shine, I persevere through all of my work and come out the hero, and some days you cannot win, you learn to accept this and be gentler and kinder to yourself, to begin with. For me, I need to feed and nurture my creative self – to be able to function. Luckily my family understood this, and after ten days postpartum, I was at my studio starting a commission work. Now that the Baby is almost 6 months, she demands more time, and I don’t have the luxury of painting for hours, as mama duty calls, so you need to improvise and feed that creative soul. This Christmas after the baby was asleep, I made a Christmas tree from scratch, and this quiet time in the night although deprived me of what little sleep, I had, it also allowed me that time I needed to recalibrate myself.

PIX COURTESY : Kamilka Perera


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danu Innasithamby

Danu is a Jaffna Boy with a Marketing qualification (only because he needed to study, and not because he wanted it). He has been a part of the team for seven years and is the face behind Buzz with Danu, and WTF.


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