Image: Amit Verma
Design for the PlanetAkanksha Deo Sharma | 28Designer, Ikea
Looking for ways to express herself, Akanksha Deo Sharma dropped out of studying Commerce after the first year to join the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi.
It was here that her association with the world’s largest furniture retailer Ikea, where she is the only Indian designer, started. Soon after her graduation in 2016, a 10-month internship at the mothership in Sweden was followed by a job offer. Deo Sharma joined in 2017.
Today, working in Gurugram, she brings forth a Scandinavian aesthetic rooted in Indian culture, combining her knowledge of Indian textile history, handicrafts and construction techniques to develop products that are minimal, clean and playful.
The projects she has been associated with at Ikea in the last three years have helped in contributing to solutions ranging from skill development and empowerment of women to the use of sustainable materials for developing new products.
In 2019, Deo Sharma along with Finnish designer Iina Vuorivirta won the Elle Decor India Best Designer Award in the tabletop category for the FÖRÄNDRING collection featuring lamps, rugs, mugs and other home decor products. This was part of the ‘Better Air Now’ initiative launched by Ikea to turn rice straw—a harvesting residue that contributes heavily to air pollution when burned—into raw material.
The scale of impact achieved through these projects by the behemoth is huge and Deo Sharma is grateful to be bringing about a positive change. “I have realised we live in a defining time in human history and that I have to design for both people and the planet as a whole,” she says. “Good design has to be democratic.” See the full Forbes India 30 Under 30 list for 2020 here
Marcus Engman, creative director, SKEWED Productions and former global head of design at Ikea says, “Akanksha combines new artistic fashion design thinking with reinvented, old, artisan production techniques to make her very own version of democratic design.”
(This story appears in the 14 February, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)