Linda Speldewinde

Founder, AOD Colombo

Sri Lanka

Winning women Asia-Pacific Linda Speldewinde

Linda is a leading young female entrepreneur, who established the Academy of Design (AOD) in Colombo in 2001. She went on to conceptualize and launch the Sri Lanka Design Festival in 2009. In 2010, she founded the online store Island Crafts, linking design with rural communities, thereby growing a creative and entrepreneurial culture. Just one year later, she set up the Design for Sustainable Development Foundation. Later in 2015, she launched an online fashion brand, fashionmarket.Ik, as well as the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Runways Sri Lanka.  

A focused and motivated woman, Linda describes her driving force as “the need for good design in Sri Lanka.” She explains, “we didn’t have good design, because we didn’t have educated designers.” And so, she began her longstanding relationship with the Northumbria University, UK, thereby partnering her Academy of Design with the Northumbria’s School of Design. 

In 2009, she won the British Council’s International Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award. She is the highestranked woman in the “40 under 40” list of the most influential young people in Sri Lanka. In 2018, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law by the Northumbria University, recognizing the modern force of creative innovation created at a global level. She strongly believes that design can make an impact on education, rural crafts and communities in her country that will lead to social and cultural sustainability in Sri Lanka. 

“We strive to become a global voice through a design movement and create an impact out of South Asia. Our purpose is to nurture a unique environment that inspires individuals to make a difference through design.”