Raffles Colombo : Unleashing Your Inner Designer

Raffles Colombo : Unleashing Your Inner Designer

Adapted from Chocolate Magazine Article  : Unleashing Their Inner Designers

By Paramie Jayakody

Photos by Kevin Michael

Last Thursday we at Chokolaate had the pleasure of speaking to two of the aspiring designers at Raffles Design Institute, Shalina Fernando and Panchali Liyanawaduge. Sitting down with them in a classroom filled with lines, colours and fabrics, we talked to each of them about their journey as fashion designers.


Shalina Fernando, currently studying in the third year, specializes in designing evening wear. But it wasn’t always what she was interested in, she explained. Growing up, she was interested in architecture, but the mathematical aspect was not something she enjoyed.

Exploring her career options, she came to Raffles Institute, where she first stepped into the world of fashion design. At Raffles she learned drawing figures, how to visualize a concept, how to make her designs come to life, and essentially, how to be a fashion designer.

She added that she was blessed with a very supportive family who motivate her and are proud of her achievements. At first her brother didn’t like it, she said, but that was becausehe didn’t understand all the aspects of being a fashion designer. Now he’s as supportive as her parents. Her parents always wanted her to do what she likes, what she’s good at.

Hopping off the stool, she proceeded to show us some photos of her mini collection that she had designed last year. Showcasing some impressive evening wear, Shalina told us her dream was to one day start her own brand, and release a unique collection of evening wear.

Shalina says the evening wear segment of Sri Lankan fashion has a lot to be desired, and she dreams of someday bridging that gap with her own collections.

Shalina’s advice to anyone looking to be a fashion designer is  “be ready to commit, and be motivated. Find inspiration. You will have to sacrifice your time and effort, but it’s worth it”

Shalina told us she was a professional athlete during her school life. While she had to stop competing professionally due to the commitments of her studies, she channeled that driven personality into fashion design. She concluded by saying that life as a fashion designer was very challenging, but interesting.




Panchali Liyanawaduge smiled shyly at us from across the table, her designs spread out across the table she was working at. Panchali, a second year, said that she was totally new to the world of fashion design, and at first, was very hesitant to join Raffles Institute.

Two years down the line, she has come to regard the Institute as her home and she says her lecturers always help her, not just with fashion design, but with life in general.

While schooling, Panchali was always a passionate artist. In grade 12, she realized she had a sketching skill, and a knack for colour balancing. After evaluating her talents, she decided that she could channel that talent into drawing designs. Before that life changing decision, she had wanted a career in hotel management.  Her family supported her dream, and they enrolled her at Raffles right away. Panchali learned a lot at raffles. Among these were how to refine her drawing techniques and concepts.

Despite still being in her second year, Panchali has already debuted a men’s wear collection, inspired by the Japanese Culture. She explained that Japanese designs are a source of constant inspiration to her, and she follows the work of designers like Yohji Yamamoto.

She also plans to release another mini collection in June. An evening wear collection, this will be heavy on floral designs in summer colours.

In the future, she plans to start her own brand, with her own ideas. Her dream is to infuse Sri Lankan traditional clothing with a mix of other cultures. While she wants to go abroad for additional experiences, Panchali has no plans to work anywhere but here.


Talking about her juniors, she says that most are afraid to start. 

“Don’t be afraid. It’s hard, but with passion and determination you can do it. Inspiration can come from anywhere, even nature.” – Panchali

Chokolaate Raffles ScreenMasters Film Competition

Chokolaate Raffles ScreenMasters Film Competition
Rules and Regulations
  1. This is a short film competition and hence only SHORT Films should be submitted NO DOCUMENTARIES. The entries can be short digital animation films too on the topic.
  2. DURATION: The films shall not be more than 4 (four) minutes, including the beginning and end credits. The minimum length should be 30 seconds including credits.
  3. You are allowed to shoot the film on phones, action camera (such as GoPro, etc), point and shoot camera, handycam and DSLR camera.
  4. The film should be submitted by not later than 15th of July 2019, 11.59PM. No late entries will be accepted.
  5. The Grand Final and Film Festival will be held on 15th of August 2019.
  6. The short films may be in any language, but must be subtitled in English.
  7. All entries must be originals works. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
  8. All films must be suitable for public viewing.
  9. The participants grant the organizers the non-exclusive rights to screen (non – commercial) their film / entry on their respective websites, social media platforms and other associated screenings.
  10. COPYRIGHT: The Film must not contain any copyrighted work(s) belonging to third parties unless participants have a license or permission to use such works in the Film. If music or additional film material used in your film is not original, then permission from source must be obtained. The responsibility for this rests entirely with the filmmaker.


  • 1st Place :
    Full Scholarship at Raffles Film School
    LKR 25,000 Cash Prize
    1 Point and Shoot Camera
  • 2nd Place :
    2 Modules Scholarship at Raffles Film School
    LKR 10,000 Cash Prize
    1 Point and Shoot Camera
  • Finalist (3rd to 7th Place):
    Frugal Shooting Equipment
    Raffles Film School Merchandise

You can apply by clicking the link below:

Chokolaate Magazine: Interior Design – An Intriguing Insight 

Chokolaate Magazine: Interior Design – An Intriguing Insight 

Celebrating this month specifically dedicated to empowering women who continue to inspire us, we at Chokolaate were more than happy to sit down with a number of wonderful ladies from Raffles Institute of Design in Colombo. These women, who contribute much of their creativity to the world of design, went on to tell us more about their experience at Raffles, and why they believe Interior Design is a truly promising career!

Nichola Packianathan
“Interior Design is a functional piece of art and there’s a lot to explore in it. To get started – all you need is an eye for design.”

Nichola Packianathan, Lecturer of Interior Design – Raffles Colombo

Being a past student of Raffles, Nichola has spent a number of years in its walls and was happy to fill us in on her perspective as an Interior Design Lecturer.

Is Interior Design an Art or a Science? 
Interior Design is not just an art, but a science as well. It deals with the preferences and emotions of those who are occupying the space, as well as their psychology.

How would a designer evolve with “Modernity” and its technological advancements? 
A designer must always be up to date on the current ongoings and preferences of the industry. At Raffles interior design course, this issue is very well tackled as the students are exposed to the importance of sustainability as well as modernity, while the importance of technological ongoings and advancements are well established and grounded into the minds of students who enrol.

Why do you think Raffles is the perfect institute for Interior Design? 
It’s the perfect environment! Every student is well catered to and personally attended to when required. There is a wide variety of students enrolled, and this variety exposes students to a number of cultures and all kinds of personalities which, in my opinion, really helps them grow as individuals.

Anna Mosanghini
“To overcome any challenge in the design world – all you need is passion”

Anna Mosanghini,- Lecturer of Interior Design – Raffles Colombo

Anna is a full-time lecturer, who specialises in interior design projects. She was more than thrilled to express her thoughts on the world of design!

How has your experience at Raffles been so far? 
I’ve been working here for a number of years now, and it’s been really great! The students are very friendly and full of enthusiasm, which makes my job of guiding them a whole lot easier. It’s been a very nice opportunity – you never get bored!

How important Is Individuality in Interior Design?
It’s the most important. It’s alright to have an idol or someone to look up to – but you should always be able to cultivate individuality in your designs. Stay curious and in-the-hunt for new Inspiration, but individuality is a must!

What “X-Factor” do students acquire at Raffles? 
There’s so many, to be honest. As a designer, you have to be open to many doors of insight. At Raffles Interior Design, we make sure our students are pushed out of their bubbles and exposed to all kinds of insights that a designer may find useful. This is where the students are able to make mistakes, and learn from them. The interior design courses truly does bring out the “X factor” in whoever it is that enrols here!

“To be a successful designer, you must be an expert at time management!”

Daitha Dharmasena, Lecturer of Interior Design – Raffles Colombo

Daitha Dharmasena

Having worked at Raffles for over 7 years, this is what Daitha had to say about Interior Design and its key elements.

What’s more important – functionality or appeal? 
Definitely both. You must first look at the function that space is required to fulfil. Then only can you use your creativity to build the aesthetic in such a way that it appeals to those who’ll be engaged in that particular environment.

What is a basic skill needed by an Interior Designer? 
Creativity. And not just that, you must be focused and methodical in how you use your creativity. It’s always important to meet new forerunners of the industry and be out looking for new inspiration.

How do you think Raffles differs from other design institutes? 
In quality, Raffles interior design is by far the best institute to enrol in. The program is well structured and broken down in a way that once the students have finished their course, they will be fully equipped with all the fundamental skills needed to achieve their goals.

“If you have a passion for design, don’t be afraid to pursue it”,

Fatinah Suhail, Student – Raffles Colombo

Fatinah Suhail

Fatinah is a third-year student at Raffles, and majors in Interior Design. Her enthusiasm and genuine love towards her art truly inspired us, and is bound to inspire others as well!

What made you join Raffles? 
I’ve always been a creative soul. Even from my school days, I’ve always known that I’d enrol in a field that was design related. When I came to Raffles, by its introduction alone I was very much impressed by what they offered, and instantly knew I had to enrol!

How has the experience been so far? 
It’s been a wonderful experience. The courses are very interesting, and I find myself diving into my subjects with a great deal of enthusiasm. To be quite honest, I feel more than privileged to be able to follow my passion and develop my design skills at one of the best institutes in the country!

What are your plans for the future? 
I’d love to study further, and eventually work as a designer in the bustling city of Singapore! It’s an upcoming city that’s filled with a great amount of potential that’s yet to be explored. Besides, it’s much closer to home – don’t you think?

The dedication, energy and passion that these women showcase towards their art is striking indeed! They continue to show us that once you have a passion for something, you should never be afraid to go after it. So if you believe that design is your’s to pursue – Raffles might be the perfect place for you!

Adapted from Chokolaate Magazine article.

Interview by Nethmi Liyanapathirana.  Photos by Kevin Michael

Raffles Interior Designers Lighting Up *SCAPE

Raffles Interior Designers Lighting Up *SCAPE

Singapore – Congratulations to Raffles Interior Designers, Sensathien THANAKORN, Antoinette ACICIA Barbara, and TANG Chun Wai Rex for their winning lighting design proposal to SCAPE Singapore! The winning design incorporated geometrical and linear shapes that created movements and rhythm towards a futuristic youthful vibe.

Students embarked on this industry project with SCAPE Singapore and applied knowledge about lighting acquired during their Environmental Lighting module to present their proposals to SCAPE Singapore.

Raffles Singapore’s Interior Designers and Creative Practitioners together with Deputy Director SCAPE Singapore, Shirley TAN

Raffles Singapore thanks Shirley TAN, Deputy Director SCAPE Singapore, for presenting the certificates to the students. We look forward to working with SCAPE Singapore for future collaborations!

Uncover your potential. Enrol with Raffles in Colombo today and be a part of international network!

Article adapted from Study at Raffles

Rosariya Liyanage – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design

Rosariya Liyanage – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design


“My 3 years at Raffles had been a continuous adventure between learning and living in the industry! The syllabus wasn’t always sewing a garment, but so much of thought process and so much of research to expose the creativity within us.
In one line, Raffles granted me the title to now define me as a Fashion Designer acclaiming all the required qualifications.”

Shanika Samarakkody – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design

Shanika Samarakkody – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design
“Studying at Raffles was the best decision I have ever made! I must say that each and every course that is provided are focused on getting students ready for the industry from day one. I was one of the first students to work on menswear as my final year project and all the lecturers helped me in achieving a fabulous collection.
I would like to thank and give my gratitude to all my dearest lecturers and instructors who focus on each and every student individually and help them achieve their dreams!”

Mariana Perera – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design

Mariana Perera – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design
“The educational experience is, I think, one of the best I’ve ever had in my life, mainly because of the friendly lecturers and working culture. I’ve found a very caring and homely environment at the university where the faculty staff and the people in the university are exceptionally supportive.
I am grateful to all my raffles teachers and Professors as well as the other university staff for this great experience.”

Ruzaika Sameem – Bachelor of Design in Interior Design

Ruzaika Sameem – Bachelor of Design in Interior Design


“I joined Raffles in 2015 and it was the right decision I made to follow my passion of Interior designing.
The college atmosphere was always friendly and joyful moments. My experience in college has given me a chance to sharpen my skills in my field of choice. I consider my time in college as my most valuable experience.

Nimasha Deshapriya – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design

Nimasha Deshapriya – Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design


“The multicultural environment of students from different countries and the superb lecturer ‘Dinesh Chandrasena’ who were at the lecturer panel made me choose Raffles Design Institute. 
I found a very caring and homely environment where we were supported in our studies; lecturers are very kind, and their way of teaching is really interesting.”

Chokolaate Magazine: Raffles Colombo – A Unique Learning Experience for Extraordinary Career Success

Chokolaate Magazine: Raffles Colombo – A Unique Learning Experience for Extraordinary Career Success

by Nithya Sarathchandra

Photos by Kevin Michael

Dinesh Chandrasena and Alina Erimia – Photo by Chokolaate Magazine

Raffles Colombo the current modern design learning education provider in Colombo offers internationally recognized Bachelor’s degree programmes in Fashion Design and Interior Design. Students have the unique advantage of receiving a holistic skill based approach to design studies combined with skills development through various hands-on collaborations with industry partners both local and international. 

We at Chokolaate had the pleasure of sitting down with Dinesh Chandrasena, the Academic Lead and Program Coordinator for Fashion Design, and Alina Erimia Senior Lecturer at Raffles Colombo. 

“We are one, and we better make it work. Do your best.” – Dinesh Chandrasena 

What makes Raffles unique? 

Dinesh – We are the premier education provider for design in Sri Lanka, which is part of a large global network spanning Asia, the Pacific region and Europe. Academia has been a wonderful facet to my career as a designer and creative director, and I have always strongly believed that knowledge is meant to be shared. 

What we offer at Raffles is unique, because we are international and standardized across our Network. The modules taught here, from examinations to assignments are the same you will find in Milan, Singapore, and worldwide. 

This is a valuable advantage to our students as they receive global learning with the skill and strength to work anywhere in the world, simply because we deliver the same international standards here are Raffles Colombo. We also have the best local and international industry professionals teaching here. 

How does Raffles offer real time Industry experience?

Dinesh – We currently have many graduates who are emerging leaders in the industry running their own business as well as taking part in CFW, MDFD, MISS EARTH and large projects with industry forerunners like Marriot Weligama, Cinnamon and Sheraton projects to name a few. Graduates gain employment, and We supervise our current students on such large scale projects, and therefore these accolades serve as feathers in their hats of achievement.

 Their education here at Raffles empowered with this unique opportunity is an invaluable stepping stone into success, as we prepare them for the international arena. Our students therefore receive this unique experience as gaining first hand exposure into the industry while studying here. 

How does Raffles train it’s Students/Graduates to give back to the world? 

Dinesh Chandrasena – Academic Lead at Raffles Colombo

Dinesh – We at Raffles are firm believers in responsibility. 

It is not just about recycling or switching off the light, responsibility has to emerge from humanity, from the understanding that we are not here to dominate, and that we are only one of many species present. Therefore it is not fair to exploit all that is around us. 

These are a few of the things we as lecturers discuss to stay at the cusp of International Leadership. Also, our Singapore institute has won many awards in the field of responsible design. Therefore, we ensure our students understand that it is always a conscious decision, to be responsible in employing, designing, and in general, to making Fashion responsible in itself. 


1.EMPLOY RESPONSIBLY: We have a reason to employ fairly and across a spectrum that is unbiased of social prerequisites but is instead based on skill and talent. 

2.BE RESPONSIBLE TO YOUR EMPLOYER: If someone trusts you with the responsibility of performing as per your job, you have to deliver your best and keep them informed on responsible measures, as You have been employed because of Your unique skill sets, and these need to be utilized for the good of the organization. 

3.EMPOWER OTHERS: As a society, we are only but a tiny part of a large jigsaw puzzle, and thereby it is our duty to be kind, supportive and not be threatened. 

4.UNDERSTAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: Always remember that you have a responsibility with social media and what you say or do, what is the message you are giving to people? 

5.EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION: A great part of self actualization is giving back to the world, a great responsibility in itself. Empower and pass on! 

Alina Erimia is from Romania and has been working at Raffles as a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design for the past 3 years. A fabulous artist who can translate a great deal into design academics, Alina brings a very enriching experience of Art to her students. 

“I believe art is part of culture, and through art you can ignite a person’s passion, dedication and discipline. You can also see their skills and their curiosity of the world. Each color, pigment and material adds a significant touch, and therefore it’s important to understand all your elements.” – Alina Erimia



2.CHOOSE YOUR COMPONENTS WISELY: Back in the day, elements like coral and ivory were exploited for fashion, such measures destroy our ecosystems and the earth. 


4. ART IS TO BE INTERPRETED BY YOU; Artists take great effort into their work, it’s a universal language. Be open minded and take form to what it gives you. Enrich your soul and embrace your emotions

Adapted from Chokolaate Magazine: http://www.chokolaate.net/blog/raffles_colombo_a_unique_learning_experience_for_extraordinary_career_success

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