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The Story of Dhisai

The Story of Dhisai

Dhisai’s story is a story of how people with diverse backgrounds got a chance to work together and eventually realized they would form a great team. Dhisai is the result of a conversation on the role of designers in society and design education, that grew into a debate and later ended in a consensus to do something about the state of design education.

So what is Dhisai?

Dhisai is a preparatory school for students interested in pursuing art, architecture, fashion and design as a career. But aspirations do not end there. Dhisai would want to grow into a society, college, academy or an institution that can be inspired from the diverse Indian culture and inspire a society of future designers for a better tomorrow.

dhisai mentors

Pearls of the Academy

Sasi an artist, scultor and ceramist apart from creating his own  works was involved in teaching at NIFT. After Nift he had joined Pearl Academy in Chennai. A few years down the line Leela, a fashion designer with experience in designing for export houses and for the European market was invited to teach at Pearl Academy. A reluctant mentor at the beginning tuned herself into guiding successful designers in the later years. The last piece in the puzzle was Hariesh an architect, product designer and urbanist who was invited to head the Interior Architecture program. The combination along with Pradeep, Sakthi, and Nithya was explosive with mutual respect for each others background and expertise. Unique methods of teaching and conveying design concepts evolved and the team loved exploring uncharted and challenging terrains. The efforts bore fruit when representatives for the Nottingham Trent University had seen the works of the students and appreciated the efforts and the creative outcomes of the batch.

Sadly Pearl Academy decided to shut down Chennai operations in 2016. The team decided they would all continue with their own practices. But that was not to happen. We had become so used to each others company and approach to life and teaching design. We collectively decided to start a school where we would continue to do what we love most – inspiring and igniting young designers. Vini, also an architect and product designer from NID, joined the team a little later sharing her expertise on portfolio development.

Meet the mentors at Dhisai


Mr.Sasikumar Kanniyappan


Sasi is a renowned artist, sculptor, ceramist and designer. A product of the Government college of art, Chennai, he has taught at several prestigious institutions like NIFT, Pearl Academy, IICD etc., He has travelled the world for shows, conferences and workshops. Following his father Mr. Kanniyappan’s footstep he and his family are the people behind the brand SUDHA’68 – manufacturers of art materials and dry pastels in India. Profound thinker, exceptional educator and a motivator to several designers that he has interfaced as students in the last 20 years. Sasi is a visiting professor at NIFT and and headed the foundation program for Pearl Academy in Chennai till 2016.

He also serves as a member in the board of studies of several institutions like Mc’Gans Ooty School of Fashion and at Stella Maris.


Fashion Designer

Leela is a product of the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology in Chennai. She has vast industry experience designing for buying houses. She started her career in the fashion industry with Naidu Hall then moved to Shuttle Weave Internal Exports. At Shuttle Weave she was exposed to working with international trends and designing for the European market. Later she had worked as a fashion consultant with Her stint with teaching started when she joined Pearl Academy. She has been a mentor and headed the department of fashion design at Pearl Academy. Students whom she has mentored have gone on to win the Wills Lifestyle and Liva Portuge. Leela is an effective mentor at Dhisai shaping students who specifically want to pursue a career in fashion.

Ms. Vinodhini Mohan

Architect + Product designer

Vinodhini is an architect and product designer with experience in the fields of architecture, product design, furniture, retail design and interaction & strategic design management. She had interned with the illustrious sculptor and architect Sathish Gujral in Delhi. She later went on to pursue product design from the prestigious National Institute of Design (NID) at Ahmedabad. Working as a product design at Titan Fastrack watches she developed the Valentines collection for them. Following which she moved on to working with the design team at TI cycles where she redesigned accessories for the Ladybird series of cycles. She was also instrumental in developing retail branding and design of templates for the BSA / Hercules stores of different formats pan India.

To broaden her experience she later moved to consult in Strategic Design Management and Interaction Design with a few multinational companies. With vast experiences in designing products to industrial to packaging to retail and later to interaction design, Vinodhini advises and orients students at Dhisai on projects and portfolio development.

Ar.Hariesh K.Sankaran

Architect + Product designer + Urbanist

Hariesh K. Sankaran is an architect and designer with experience in the fields of architecture, product design, furniture, urban landscapes and strategic design. He has collaborated with various firms and brands like Louis Vuitton, Dietiker, Swarovski, Sunstar, Mizar, Vietri, Paolo Pecora, Multiplicity lab, DARC, ALAD etc., spanning France, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, USA, UK, Austria and the Indian sub continent working on varied projects ranging from furniture, lighting, packaging, retail, lifestyle accessories, interiors, architecture and urban planning. He has also been involved as a design consultant for the World Expo 2015, Milan and the master plan of the new capital complex of Abu Dhabi.

After completing his undergraduate degree from India, Hariesh pursued his masters’ degree in Industrial Design from Domus Academy, Italy. Furthering his interest in architecture he pursued a masters degree in Architecture, specialising in urban landscapes. He is an award winning designer with his works and products exhibited at the Light+Building design expo ’06 (Frankfurt), Korean Design Expo ’06, Salone del Mobile ’07 (Italy), Opus design awards ’07 (Japan) and IBDC ’05 (Taiwan).

Currently he runs a small practice in Chennai called “Beanbee” and hosts an online architecture magazine called “Descroll”. He is part of the jury panel at NIFT and other architecture schools SRM, Sathyabama, AJ College, Crescent, McGans etc.,