THE SHE FACTOR: Marching With The Flora General

By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With a humble start of a table office in India back in 1996, today Shalini Bhatnagar, founder of “Fiona Environs” has 4 offices worldwide with total staff strength of 60-plus people. Besides offering landscape architectural and design services, Shalini has successfully forayed into landscape project management, landscape value engineering, way-finding and signage.

DUBAI

Shalini Bhatnagar was drawn towards landscape designing because of her admiration for plants and flowers, something which she feels she inherited from her botanist mother.

“I was interested in art from an early age and then, attracted by architecture. I found that landscape architecture allowed me to have fun with my work and satisfy my creative impulses,” Shalini, founder and CEO of Fiona Environs, says.

“Landscape designing as a subject has always been close to my heart, thanks to my mom who is a botanist. The experience of heading the landscape department for one of the premier hotel chains in India, gave me a great exposure into the designing industry. It allowed me to work with leading international designers, thus fuelled my passion for landscape designing. That’s when I decided to launch Fiona Environs, which till date has been one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she says.

Starting her career in Mumbai during the 1980s, she always felt that landscape designing was seen as afterthought even though it contributed to more than 20 per cent of the cost of project.

With a determination to reshape the perception towards landscape architecture and her doting husband’s support, she went on to start Fiona Environs in 1996 and scoring several prominent clients in India such as the Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

“When I began my career as a landscape architect, the industry was quite niche. Paving my path into this sector was not really easy, as landscape design was considered more as an afterthought instead of a necessity. Being at the forefront at Fiona Environs has given me the opportunity to subtly influence the perception of decision makers to no longer consider landscape as an option,” Shalini describes.

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