colour is my oxy­gen

VOGUE Living Australia - - In Store -


MARYAM MAH­DAVI pauses, mid-de­scent, on the mas­sive wooden stair­case of her home in Brus­sels, which the de­signer fondly refers to as “the hys­ter­i­cal grand old lady”. The im­age of the two per­son­al­i­ties — the woman and the ar­chi­tec­ture — is a strik­ing one. Mah­davi, like the house, is un­de­ni­ably rock’n’roll. Worldly, yet cul­ti­vated. Com­posed of ruf­fled el­e­gance and mem­o­ries, nei­ther is afraid to proudly dis­play the traces of an ex­tra­or­di­nary life. Ira­nian by birth, Mah­davi was plunged into what she de­scribes as “the cruel world of the Swiss board­ing school sys­tem” at the age of six. “It wasn’t death,” she’s quick to point out, aware of her place in the world, “but I was very young, so I cre­ated an in­ter­nal world for my­self, a bub­ble of imag­i­na­tion.” Her fa­ther’s ap­point­ment as Ira­nian am­bas­sador to Paris from Tehran when she was in her teens al­lowed her to ex­pand that gift and de­fine a life path that has re­mained true to cre­ative pur­suit. She stud­ied for three years at the pres­ti­gious ES­MOD fash­ion school and then took up art his­tory at the École du Lou­vre, where she worked restor­ing 18th-cen­tury paint­ings. “I loved restor­ing por­traits — their eyes more than any­thing,” Mah­davi says. “I would en­ter into the uni­verse of the paint­ing by go­ing into the blacks of the eyes and it was like I was en­ter­ing a tun­nel into the in­te­rior of that per­son. It was very cu­ri­ous; al­most like a state of trance. And this is a bit like the way I work to­day as a de­signer: I get into the story of my sub­jects, be it a room or a per­son. There is a lot of pre­ci­sion in every­thing I do.” Mah­davi reg­u­larly emerges from the ‘rab­bit hole’ of her Alice in Won­der­land life with works of dec­o­ra­tive art, in­te­ri­ors and cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tions with peo­ple like Wil­frid Vacher, CEO at pres­ti­gious Brus­sels auc­tion house, Cor­nette de Saint Cyr, and the fash­ion house Joseph in Lon­don, for which she de­signed in­stal­la­tions in 2014. Fash­ion, po­etry and charisma have al­ways been at the cen­tre of Mah­davi’s uni­verse. A self-con­fessed “deca­dent ro­man­tic”, she has a knack for shed­ding new light on old con­cepts in a world that is, as she ad­mits, quintessen­tially con­ser­va­tive. Her clients, like her, are “in­ter­na­tional types”. Of­ten artis­tic, al­ways orig­i­nal, they are “ec­cen­tric, but in the best sense of the word. I don’t work with peo­ple who want to live in a show­room. I work with in­di­vid­u­als who are emo­tional and come from a strong sense of cul­ture. “When I work on a project, there is al­ways one ob­ject, or a cre­ation that comes out of it,” Mah­davi con­tin­ues. “It’s a man­i­fes­ta­tion of ››

this page: In a cor­ner of de­signer MARYAM MAH­DAVI’s liv­ing room is her own ta­ble de­sign, ‘Soupçon With Le­marié Feath­ers’. op­po­site page: The de­signer refers to this area as her “Hem­ing­way bar”. The top rug, lay­ered above oth­ers in the Per­sian...

In the liv­ing room, chairs are orig­i­nals from the de­funct Bel­gian air­line SABENA AIR­WAYS’ first class lounge; ta­ble is from Mah­davi’s Sub­scon col­lec­tion. The var­i­ous ob­jects on the man­tel­piece are vin­tage finds — in­clud­ing the 1970s porce­lain leop­ard,...

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