Designed for the Future of Sri Lanka
Creativity is a pillar for any entrepreneur, whether they know it or not. Without it, opportunities are missed, niches are never carved, and differentiation is never realized on the business end of things. Every entrepreneur needs to be creative to survive, let alone succeed. There is, however, the question of how much it takes to thrive in the business of creativity, and build a better future for your country. Enter Linda Speldewinde. Linda is an entrepreneur building a force in Sri Lanka that looks to transform how creative design is perceived and incorporated in business.
In recent years, Sri Lanka has made much progress as a country, with so many emerging industries and innovations propelling the country forward. Design however is something that gets lost at times, but not for Linda Speldewinde and her group at the Academy of Design. Founded in 2000, and now known as “Sri Lanka’s most future-ready design dynamic”, the Academy is they key cog in the Design Corp Group of Companies, acting as a focal point in their mission to make Sri Lanka a global creative hub. AOD has developed a reputation as a private higher education institute that takes the idea of education further than most institutions will, especially in the case of the country’s creative industries. They offer base programs in fashion, design, arts, and architecture that don't necessarily follow the prototypical educational experience in Sri Lanka. AOD at their core incorporates a forward-thinking mentality, collaborating with partner institutions like the Northumbria University in Newcastle for a more diverse education. The Academy, at the same time, is more than just a school. AOD is the creative engine that fuels national design opportunities and initiatives, pushing the envelope of creativity through the Fashion Market, Urban Island, and the Sri Lanka Design Festival.
In the grand scheme of Linda’s vision, AOD lies at the center. In the same breathe, it is quite reasonable to suggest that her other endeavors have grown to epic proportions in their own. Out of AOD, these endeavors have taken on lives of their own, creating a real ecosystem to channel, incubate, and collaborate creatively within Sri Lanka, and across the globe. These groups that Linda works with and oversees have an altruistic core, with the Design for Sustainable Development Foundation standing out among them. Linda has, since 2011, made progress establishing livelihood while preserving traditional Sri Lankan crafts through DSDF. Working in the rural areas of the country has led to Linda actively working with other fashion industry leaders and government officials to make things better for their people. Another brain child of hers is the Colombo Innovation Tower, a community of individuals with diverse backgrounds that collaborate on embracing futuristic methods. Her work in these sectors gave her the opportunity to participate in national level budget discussions, alongside fellow industry leading women, advocating for creative industries to be considered in Sri Lanka’s national budget.
At the end of the day, Linda’s domain will always be in creativity, even if she herself has said she’s not a designer herself. Her strength has always been in harnessing the power of creativity, of design to make an impact on so many levels and for so many people. Her hard work has been recognized by many veritable organizations, ranging from an award from the British Council, to an honorary degree from Northumbria University, a testament to her efforts at home. In past interviews, Linda has called herself a strategist; identifying gaps in her industry, and filling them would become her forte over the years. ““I’m not a designer myself but I bring in the visionary aspect and direction to the final output,” she said in an interview with Daily News Sri Lanka. Thanks to her, a vision for a better future for local designers isn’t a pipe dream in her home country. The future that Linda Speldewinde has envisioned is very much becoming the present.
Linda Speldewinde's endeavors are many, and each are making a difference in her home of Sri Lanka. You can read all about them through Linda's official website. If you want to keep up with the ever fashionable entrepreneur's on-goings and OOTDs, you can follow her on Instagram at @lindaspeldewinde