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  • Writer's pictureChanda P Kumar

FRDC makes it in VMSD's Designer Dozen yet again with Rhea M Mathew

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Rhea M Mathew, Associate Studio Lead - Retail Design, FRDC gained global recognition by being chosen as VMSD’s annual Designer Dozen awards program that recognizes retail’s rising stars, ages 35 and under, who are making their mark on an industry that is poised on the cusp of reinvention. Read more from the VMSD article

You will often find Rhea striding across the studio, in a conversation with her team or inducting new interns, and then, tucked away in her nook, completely absorbed in her work. A little dynamite, filled with energy, Rhea is always raring to go.

Completing 10 years with FRDC this year, she is one of the key members at the studio and the go-to person for team members and clients alike. We caught a glimpse into Rhea’s life, her journey, and more.

Your earliest memories that triggered you to take on a life in design

We used to draw chalk lines on the garage floor to create rooms and build castles in the air. I guess that was my earliest memory that used a bit of imagination and creativity. But the longing to see that image in some sort of tangible form is what lead me to my life in design.

Design Philosophy

It’s a life philosophy that applies to design as well. Life is about the journey, not entirely about the destination. Design is like that, it’s about the journey that combines aesthetics, engineering, art, and even science which leads to great design.

Biggest learning

Keep it simple, but significant.

High Points in Your career

The first-ever award I received was at the FRDC annual meet “Youngistan of the Year”. After that, our Mustard Project won at VM&RD. We also won the RTW award from VM&RD Retail Design Award, and ARE, Gold Specialty Award, USA. Additionally, working with clients like M&S, Uniqlo, OnePlus, and Script and bringing international experience to our Indian retail shores has been wonderful. I also have had the pleasure of collaborating with the Design Team at JGA, Detroit and Gensler, San Francisco, and Japan.

Being awarded VMSD’s Designer Dozen for 2021 has made this year even better

Would you have done anything differently?

There have been instances when I have contemplated the same thing. In all honesty, I am where I am because of the choices I made and the journey I took because of those choices. Even though I have a yearning to do more in the future, there is not even an ounce of the past that I would change.

Design in India at this point

It’s an industry that has moved leaps and bounds since I got acquainted with it. Earlier it used to be about treating the space to bound to aesthetics, but now both the user and the designer are choosing to focus on creating a Perspective and not just products in an aesthetic space.

Best place & time to ideate

I doubt anyone can say there is a particular time of day or a place that is best for ideation. Sometimes inspiration strikes in the most chaotic moments and sometimes in the most tranquil places. However, I do find myself looking for a quiet moment to focus and on other occasions, fresh pair of eyes on something that I am working on helps me design better.


The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton | Into Thin air by Jon Krakauer


Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh


This is quite long, but latest one is Iceland

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