Surinaa Triveen: A Story of Passion, Elegant Interiors & Touching Hearts

Surinaa Triveen: A Story of Passion, Elegant Interiors & Touching Hearts

Surinaa Triveen , Founder & Managing Director

Surinaa Triveen

Founder & Managing Director

Capturing the essence of an entire country within the confines of a small coffee shop is a feat that many would consider an overly ambitious endeavor. To distill the rich tapestry of Oman's culture and style into a space tucked away in a mall could easily become overwhelming or superficial. But in the skillful hands of Surinaa Triveen, this seemingly impossible task is elegantly achieved. With a discerning eye and a profound connection to her surroundings, she crafts a setting that resonates with the heart of Oman without losing the intimacy and warmth that make the café a comforting haven.

As you flip through her extensive portfolio, it becomes clear that Surinaa's design approach is driven by intuition. Unbound by industry trends, established conventions, or traditional principles, Surinaa confidently marches to the beat of her own drum. Whether she's creating offices, residences, hotels, or malls, each project is infused with a fresh flair and a unique philosophy that reflect her singular vision. It's this inventive spirit that led her to found Surpassing Standards International (SSI), where she continues to redefine the boundaries of design as the Founder & Managing Director. Her work stands not only as a testament to her creative prowess but also as a beacon for a new era in interior design.

In every project she undertakes, Surinaa seamlessly navigates various design philosophies, from the charm of the classics to the sophistication of the contemporary and beyond. Her innate ability to synthesize different styles reflects her diverse cultural influences and demonstrates her mastery over a broad spectrum of design principles. She brings a global perspective, artistic versatility, and an intuitive understanding of her client's vision to each project, crafting environments that surpass expectations and create lasting impressions—clutching more than three decades of experience. We recently got in touch with her, and she was happy to reminisce about her interesting personal and professional journey.

In conversations with Surinaa Triveen, Founder & Managing Director, Surpassing Standards International.

Let’s begin from the beginning. How did it all start, and what inspired you to become an interior designer? Also, what was the driving force behind establishing Surpassing Standards International?

I have actually never given thought to my journey to where I am today. So delving into memory will be interesting for me too. I was born into a family of strong minded individuals where my grandparents were Landlords and Lawyers, my father was a Professor in Life sciences, sister & brothers were scholars and my Mom, the most amazing person I know, was our home maker. Creativity was in abundance at home where my father drew impeccable art, mom was a writer, my brothers as photographers and could draw full sceneries on 'moss' and draw on the sand with their toes and then there was my elder sister, she evoked the passion of wanting everything to look beautiful. And I think that’s where the journey of interior design started for me.

I studied many subjects just to fulfil the quota of being a B.Sc and B.A and a PG but my heart was set on studying Interior design which I finally managed after completing all of the above!

I left for Dubai soon after completing my course in ID but the first job that I got was in Advertising. I am a post graduate in the field and therefore, could manage a few months of survival as I looked out for ID assignments. This was not a lucrative field at the time and even Dubai was just waking up to accepting this as something that could develop as a potential stream.

The trends and tools of our industry are always evolving, & to be successful, you have to evolve with them. The more you push back, the harder it will be for you

Whilst in Dubai, I got my first break as an Interior Designer with Zubair Furnishing based in Oman and who were the biggest furniture & furnishing company at the time. It was a good experience. I did have another company before this one which I had started when I was 28 years old. Did well but could not sustain for long as I don’t think I had the experience to deal with the number of technicalities and complexities of running a business. So I went back to employment.

In WJ Towell, I was given the freedom to start a new division in ID and was appointed as the business head. This is where my boss at the time, encouraged me and pushed me to do better and this is where I learnt to exceed expectations. I would actually like to thank everyone who has contributed to me being where I am today.

But like everything else, it ends. Eventually, I realized the value of my freedom and preference to lead my way, which led me to establish Surpassing Standards International (SSI)—a manifestation of my journey and experiences, serving as a platform to utilize my leadership style and creative vision! One of the predominant driving thoughts behind establishing SSI was to bring the ultimate level of service to my industry with a work environment that actually surpasses standards that exist here and beyond. We started in 2011, and in 12 years, we have successfully designed and delivered over 100 projects ranging from 30 square meter projects to 22,000 square meter projects.

After a 30-year-strong career and having managed SSI for 12 years, I finally kind of feel that I have arrived. This year makes me feel special, and I am grateful for that.

How would you define SSI as an organization and a curator of modern, elegant spaces?

At SSI, we do more than just design spaces. When we get involved, we ensure the project has character and life. Our core expertise lies in turnkey design and project management services, allowing us to offer comprehensive solutions. We oversee every aspect, from conceptualizing the design to coordinating with contractors, builders, and suppliers. We also negotiate costs and timelines, ensuring our clients receive optimal service. Our holistic approach has carved a unique position for SSI in the market, making us more than just a design company.

Thanks to its diverse background in the field, the SSI team can also adapt to different responsibilities on a project. A good example of this is the entire Extreme Sports Complex designed by SSI in Oman that included all common areas, food court, gymnasium and so on. It was exciting to work on something so different, and the project really benefitted from the diverse perspectives of the team. They say too many cooks spoil the broth, but I’d say it depends on how the head chef guides and instructs them!

Tell us more about the kind of experience you create for clients through your services.

A great one! Our objective is to create lasting impressions with our clients, and we're proud to say that most of our clientele are repeat customers. We are a committed, like-minded, dedicated team and that sets us apart. We value Client opinions and suggestions and guide them to the right decisions.We are simple people with great taste and none of us like ordinary and therefore, what we do stands out and sets us apart. Not necessarily expensive but most certainly exceptional.

This approach of seeking out of the ordinary has proved very effective in successfully delivering projects that reflect our company's commitment to surpassing design and project management standards.

I can honestly say I have spent no money building up my social media profiles or paying a marketing team to run ads or campaigns. It’s all word-of-mouth, and those who find us want to stay with us. Oftentimes, they’ll see how multi-talented we are as a group and ask us to advise them on several other things like real estate, market trends for new business, and even names for their upcoming ventures! It’s fun to explore these different aspects, and it’s even better to know we have made our clients feel safe and comfortable enough to approach us with everything!

How would you define your leadership approach? What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow to lead your team?

My leadership style is inspired by my own experiences. It is predominantly democratic; I lead from the back. I believe in the potential of my team members and the unique experiences they bring to the table. Encouraging their creativity and input is integral to our operations at SSI. An environment of open door, zero politics is encouraged and practiced. I like independent thinkers. Everyone has the freedom to explore their potential. Along with freedom, both responsibility and authority are given in equal proportions. You have to allow them the reins and let them find their way. A pivotal part of our routine is to always give credit where it is due.

Every designer’s name is mentioned to the Client, and every completed job is celebrated. Also, we maintain a culture of curiosity and continuous learning within the team; we stay updated on global design trends, new materials, and technology advancements through various industry publications, forums, and seminars. Putting it in a nutshell, my focus is mainly on three critical pillars—client satisfaction, quality of work, and my team's commitment and happiness.

What is your anticipation about the future outlook of the market? Also, what is the future destination you are heading towards?

The interior design industry, like many others, is undergoing a significant transformation driven by technology and evolving client needs. From smart homes and sustainable materials to remote workspaces and virtual reality, the future of our industry is exciting and brimming with opportunities.

My anticipation for the future is an industry more integrated with AI technologies, greater emphasis on sustainable and ethical design, and a continued focus on creating spaces that reflect individual personalities and needs. We'll need to be more adaptable and innovative than ever to stay ahead.

As far as my future destination is concerned, design is my soul. And quite childlike, when I am not given credit for my concepts, I still fight for them with my team. So in a nice way, I will die at my desk! But before that, I do want to explore related avenues. For instance, I want to design and build my own furniture brand around it and bring more of my vision out into the world. I would also like to be a motivational speaker where I can encourage more women to be less hard on themselves and be more understanding and accepting of them being human too.

What would be your advice to budding leaders while hacking new opportunities?

With all kinds of information available at your fingertips, I have no 'technical' advise to give. On the personal front, what I would like to say is that give importance to the human factor. Take care of your team, nurture and build. Materials you will find from a hundred sources but it’s hard to find the right people. If you have them, value them. And on the work front, creativity is at the heart of what we do. While business strategies and financial goals are important, allowing space for creativity and being client obsessed will set you apart. Always nurture the creative spirit in yourself and your team!

Surinaa Triveen, Founder & Managing Director, SSI
Surinaa is a tour de force in the world of interior design. Hailing from India and enriched by her experiences in Oman, her design portfolio is a testament to the power of versatility & adaptability.

Hobbies: “I would say giving advice, long conversations, daydreaming, & sometimes the real ones like cooking.”

Favourite Cuisine: “One of my current favourites’ is Thai Chicken Red Curry. I also love Pav Bhaji and Sev Puri.”

Favourite Book: If Tomorrow Comes by Sydney Sheldon Favourite Travel Destination: Liechtenstein

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