Nithin Gangadharan, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Aujan Interiors, on the region’s evolving fit-out market, key offerings of the latest ventures, exciting projects, and aiming for the better of the world.
Briefly discuss your current role and responsibilities at Aujan Interiors and your vision moving forward?
I am the co-founder of Aujan Interiors. I oversee the commercial projects, residential projects and overlook the management part of the company. My responsibilities involve, right from defining the overall KPIs of Aujan Group to overseeing the daily operations minutely. If I were to draw an analogy for my overall responsibilities, I would say that each project is a canvas on which I and my team paint an art that makes the client’s heart glad and gives a smile to their face while they sit for a coffee with me after the handover. Another goal that I keep in mind is to always strive for the standard of excellence, not only in regard to our previous projects, but also in reference to industry trends.
Moving on to the vision, the goal is to be the market leader in the total fit-out space. That’s why we went with an all-in-house strategy, from joinery to metal and even paint. This allows us to standardise quality while also being the go-to location for all of your premium fit-out needs.
What are your thoughts on the ever-evolving fit-out industry, and how has it evolved over time?
The industry is more competitive than ever, and this is indirectly driving us, as the region’s leading fit-out company, to develop inventive ways to perform fit-out within a variety of restrictions. The area where significant change has occurred in the last decade is value engineering. Almost all of our projects go through value engineering, which is a challenge for any premium fit-out firm because it’s the area where we have to build a place that looks fantastic while also fitting into what a customer can afford, all while maintaining top-notch quality.
What are Couchly’s core offerings, and how is it faring in the extremely competitive luxury market?
Couchly is all about fancy furniture, especially for people who want a really nice and high-end feel for their furniture. The idea here is to make sure that when you get your furniture, it’s not just stylish, but also really well-made and the precision is up to the point. Also, it is a well-known fact that if the product market fit is good, the competition becomes secondary, giving us an advantage in the market.
Could you tell us more about your latest ventures Qwiklif and Dimani?
I’ll talk about Dimani first and then go to Qwiklif. Inshort, Dimani is all about making places look awesome. Dimani majorly deals with decorative painting and floor solutions. If you see the recent trend, lots of people like things simple and neat, like having just what they need without too much extra stuff. Where Dimani comes into play is to give the same output but with premium finishes and some sort of special touches.
Qwiklif is an air ambulance company, which means that if a patient needs to be treated in another country but is unable to travel by normal means, Qwiklif acts as an ambulance for the patient, transporting you from any part of the world to any corner of the world where the patient needs to be treated. Qwiklif fundamentally solves the problem of reserving an air ambulance because the process is now too time-consuming and exhausting because clients have to go through the inconvenience of calling tens of operators and collecting bids, etc. At Qwiklif, it’s fairly simple: you contact us, and we provide you the quickest answer and the lowest price for the same exact service, as well as safely transport the patient.
What are your favourite areas of work, commercial, fit-out, hospitality, art installations, or something else, and where do you find inspiration?
It’s impossible to pick a favourite because we make sure that every project, we do become everyone’s favourite. Still, if I had to pick one, it would be F/B Projects; in reality, our major projects are restaurants. F/B projects account for 60 to 70 percent of commercial projects. Coterie Restaurant and Precision Football are two of our favourite projects that have received a lot of positive feedback. We received multiple prizes for that project, including design and build project of the year from Design Middle East. At the same time, we are the market leaders in all fields of premium fit-out, so if it’s an exciting and challenging project, we will complete it in the best way possible while respecting the designers’ designs and the client’s time and money invested.
What would you describe as your defining project—the one where you said, “Okay, I can do this”?
We had this cool project at the Palm Jumeirah called the Beach Club in W hotel; which is expected to open in the New year Eve 2023-24. What made it extra special was that we did everything from scratch. Usually, we’re just into fit-out, but when we got asked to do this, we jumped right in. It was a bit tricky because we hadn’t done something like this before, but we just went with our gut feeling that said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” Even though it was a big challenge, it turned out to be a massive success. This actually, made us more confident in our capablities.
What are some emerging trends in the industry?
I believe there are no trends in the industry for two reasons. First, any type of innovation or new inclination that enters the industry becomes a trend in itself; for example, there has recently been a major shift in the way of presenting the design and fit-out to the client with the help of VR technology. Second, the entire fit-out sector is separated depending on the size and capacity of the projects that a company specifically conducts. But, to be more specific, all of the fit-out titans who bring on good projects into the sector are focussing on the all-in-house strategy that I previously said and that we already implemented a few years ago.
What are you working on currently?
Oh, I’m incredibly busy right now; possibly the busiest I’ve been in years. Surprisingly, the number of projects has not increased. We have 12 to 14 projects running at any given time, but this time the projects are incredibly intriguing and demanding, and one of them is a really huge sports bar with a New York franchise; it’s like a place to watch games and chill out, and I am super enthusiastic for the outcome.
How do you approach challenges and complexities that arise during the projectlifecycle, and how does your team ensure successful project completion?
For us, as a fit-out company, complexities itself are a challenge and to be very honest we love challenges and that’s when the most productive and fun discussions happen back in our conference room. The key to solving challenges is really simple for us; precise planning and first principle thinking. The first principle is that thinking leads to non-complex and simple solutions, followed by accurate planning, that helps in the most efficient execution of the devised solution.
As you think about the future, where do you see yourself and Aujan Interiors, especially in terms of the fit-out and your contribution?
Aujan plans to relocate to a much larger space in the New Year, perhaps 200,000sqft! Essentially, we want to be the one-stop place for creating beautiful spaces, from construction to handover! The long-term goal is to develop a group of companies that cater to mankind in order to make the world a better place.
What are your life goals?
If you had asked me this a few years ago, I would have had a plethora of life goals, the majority of which would have been materialistic aspects of life. But, for the time being, I believe God has given me more than I asked for, and my goal is to feel deserving of all the blessings I have and to do enough for the betterment of the world.