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On the eve of International Women's Day, Discern celebrates 12 iconic women from the world of art, architecture and design. We are inspired by them for the passion, expertise and commitment they bring to their artistic creations.

Brinda Somaya

An urban conservationist, architect and winner of the 2014 Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for lifetime achievement from the Indian Institute of Architects, Brinda Somaya has been an important part of the design narrative of India. She has planned and designed iconic institutions such as Bits Pilani, St Thomas’ Cathedral Mumbai, and the Goa Institute of Management, to name just a few. 

Discern Loves how through her work, Somaya has laid the foundation of building strong connections between architecture and conservation.

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Sarita Handa
Creative Head, Home Furnishings, Sarita Handa
Sarita Handa is the founder and creative head of her eponymous brand, Sarita Handa. 25 years ago, her love and passion for arts and textiles led to the formation and launch of this luxury Indian home furnishings brand. Her creations are inspired by modern and traditional art and crafts, which she exports to Pottery Barn, Macy’s and Bloomingdales in the United States. Along with her daughter Suparna, she has established a brand committed to design, quality and artisanship. 

Discern Loves the mother-daughter duo driven to reviving craft forms, and the exquisite and detailed handwork that the brand’s designs are famous for.


Nipa Doshi
Product Designer

London-based Nipa Doshi studied design at India's National Institute of Design. Her approach to design is rooted in tradition — materials and art forms — that come together as evocative creations with dynamic international design references. 

Discern Loves her for her imagination: Doshi turns folk stories and miniature paintings into extraordinary furniture designs, and trains a global spotlight onto indigenous handicrafts, through her unique creations.


Dorothy Draper
Interior Designer
Dorothy Draper was more than an American interior designer. She was a trend setter. Her styles were influenced by her travels and her surroundings. She introduced to the American public many styles and trends, such as the modern baroque cabbage-rose chintz. With patterns depicting florals and stripes, the Draper touch is recognised for dramatic and contrasting colour schemes that were vivid and bright. The doyenne of interior design in the 20th century, she helped professionalise the American interior design industry as early as 1923. 

Discern Loves her mantra, ‘If it looks right, it is right,’ and how she famously said, ‘I always put in one controversial item; it makes people talk.’ 


Simran Lal
CEO, Good Earth 

The driving force behind luxury home decor brand Good Earth, Simran Lal employs traditional Indian craftsmanship to create exquisite home decor products. It is no surprise that, apart from droves of ardent Indian fans of the brand, global luminaries including Steven Spielberg and Uma Thurman are also Team Good Earth. With 10 stores in major Indian cities, and an ever-expanding global footprint, Lal brings a keen clarity to furnishing design and store display, and expertly aligns them with the utterly unique mission and vision of the brand. 

Discern Loves the brand’s Charbagh Atelier Service and Eco-Conscious range of Apparel, Sustain, as well as the way Lal celebrates design that is reflected through her brand and the way she lives.



Dayanita Singh

An artist who uses photography as her medium, Dayanita Singh has exhibited her work across the globe, in destinations including Frankfurt, Chicago, Venice, London, South Korea and Berlin. She studied visual communications at NID and Documentary Photography in New York. 

Discern Loves Museum Bhavan, Singh's latest work, has recently premiered in India for the first time at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi. Drawn from Singh's extensive photographic oeuvre, Museum Bhavan depicts a series of mobile museums, a book, an art object, an exhibition and a catalogue, which the artist says is ‘a living exhibition that will wax and wane with the lunar cycle’. A special book version of these museums will be published by Steidl in 2016.




Zain Masud 
International Art Curator
The international director of the India Art Fair 2016, and the assistant director of Art Dubai, Masud considers the world to be her home. Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in London, 32-year-old Masud is famous for being one of the youngest art directors in the world. At the recently concluded India Art Fair, she curated galleries from Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to represent their historic connection with India.

Discern Loves that she discovers emerging artists from lesser-represented places in South East Asia, helping to give them a global voice. 


Aakriti Kumar
Product Designer

Aakriti Kumar exhibited her unique collection of sculpturally designed furniture at the recently concluded Design ID. Her inspiration comes from nature, which translated into an assortment of furniture crafted from reclaimed wood. Aakriti’s alternate take on furniture makes her an exciting young designer to watch out for.

Discern Loves her avant-garde designs with functional value; and how she keeps sustainability at the core of her design process.

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Sunu Aibara
Interior Architect and Designer, Neterwala and Aibara
With a passion for design and quality, Sunu Aibara is one half of design house Neterwala and Aibara. In a career spanning 35 illustrious years, she has always maintained a keen eye for detail while creating spaces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Aibara effortlessly combines sophistication and innovation with comfort and functionality in her designs.

Discern Loves that she celebrates new materials that help to create spaces that exude comfort and luxury.


Aishwarya Pathy
Founder, India Design Forum 

Entrepreneur and co-founder of the India Design Forum (IDF), and Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts (CoCCA), Aishwarya Pathy has a played a pivotal role in creating dialogue around design and art. 

Discern Loves that she engages art and artists in meaningful ways. Discern also loves that she built the Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts that contributes to the art scene and encourages young artists in a city where the concept of a design school was previously not considered top priority.


Jas Charanjiva
Co-founder of Kulture Shop and a street artist, we are inspired by Jas Charanjiva's sense of art and style. From grunge to kitsch, murals to street art, she inhabits different artistic moods with ease. She has a built a brand in Kulture Shop that is driving and shaping the Indian graphic art movement.

Discern Loves that she ‘warns against messing with an Indian woman ready for modern times.’


Ranjana Steinruecke
Founder, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinrucke 

Established in Mumbai in 2006 by Steinrucke and her mother Usha Mirchandani, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke has played an integral role in nurturing and exhibiting contemporary Indian artists. The mother-daughter duo is known for creating corporate collections for UBS, Deutsche Bank and the Unit Trust of India.

Discern Loves how Steinrucke and her Gallery tirelessly help many young collectors start their journey toward appreciating art. From Tanya Goel to Dayanita Singh and Surabhi Saraf, their gallery has exhibited the works of emerging, young artists, and helped them navigate their artistic path forward. 

We love these women designers for who they are, and honour and celebrate them this International Women's Day. Who is your favourite woman designer, and why do you love her? Tweet to us using the hashtag, #DesignDiva.


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