Aleen Akanda ’11 (B.Arch) is a Head of Store Design and Development of the Americas at Aesop. She is a Bangladeshi architect, born and raised in Manila, Philippines.
Akanda spent a few years in high school in New Delhi, India where she gained a passion for architecture. She joined Syracuse University in 2006, where she completed her professional degree in architecture; shortly after graduation, Akanda moved to New Delhi to join Populous as an architectural designer/coordinator. She worked on various projects but her predominant focus was on a large-scale renovation project of the largest convention and exhibition center in New Delhi, Pragati Maidan. After two years of working in New Delhi, Akanda came back to New York in 2014 to further her career; she joined a small boutique firm, HTO Architect, where she focused on high end residential ground up construction. Akanda’s work in the space exposed her to all the complexities of working in different districts within New York, and gave her a taste of interior architecture. As she continued to develop her skill set and grow her network, her interest in commercial interior architecture projects bloomed.
After spending two years at HTO, Akanda joined BR Design associates in 2016. The firm focused on commercial interior projects where she was able to explore her growing interest further. Akanda started as a project manager and soon climbed to the position of Director of Operations, leading a team of eight architectural designers working on several projects, varying in scale and program. She was soon presented with an opportunity to work with a reputable firm called Fogarty Finger, with Founding Partner Robert Finger, a Syracuse alumnus. Akanda took on multiple hospitality projects, however, during the pandemic, she transitioned back into residential due to the limited availability of commercial projects. Soon after, Akanda was approached by Aesop to become their Head of Store Design and Development of the Americas.
Akanda has always had a passion for conscious and circular design, with a strong focus on functionality. She found these core principles within Aesop’s organization. Projects in various cities have allowed her to connect with the communities she builds in through architecture and design.