ART & SOUL

Is­abelle Mi­aja has de­signed and dec­o­rated ho­tels and res­i­dences from all over the world, in­fus­ing each space with a skill­ful blend of art and French savoir faire

Singapore Tatler Homes - - STYLE -

When we met Is­abelle Mi­aja at the new head­quar­ters of Mi­aja De­sign Group, the in­te­rior de­signer and her team were still in the midst of mov­ing in, while busy be­ing in the thick of projects. Founded in 1995 by the Paris-born, Sin­ga­pore-based de­signer, her epony­mous firm has worked on a range of projects for hospi­tal­ity groups and res­i­dences world­wide over two decades; the Mi­aja Gallery was es­tab­lished in 2015 to re­flect the in­creas­ing in­flu­ence of art in the firm’s ex­ten­sive port­fo­lio. The de­signer also seeks to grow Mai­son Mi­aja, which fo­cuses on lim­it­ededi­tion dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects, with her first col­lec­tion of table­ware launch­ing this year. “I think that there’s no such thing as a dream project—i like the idea that you can do that with ev­ery project,” quips the founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor of Mi­aja De­sign Group. On the oc­ca­sion of her 25th year as an in­te­rior de­signer in Sin­ga­pore, she dis­cusses the next steps for Mi­aja De­sign Group as well as the lat­est trends in the world of in­te­rior de­sign.

Tell us more about your most mem­o­rable projects.

The most mem­o­rable ones in­clude my first hospi­tal­ity project in Sin­ga­pore, which was for the M Ho­tel at An­son Road. I was ini­tially given a very small space to dec­o­rate, which was the ex­ec­u­tive lounge. But once we did that, the client let us de­sign the full ho­tel. That was a sat­is­fy­ing mo­ment, and to this day, if you go to the ho­tel, it has not changed much; it has stood the test of time. Af­ter that, we had projects like The Sukhothai Bangkok in Thai­land,

where we re­designed an iconic ho­tel. It was a mean­ing­ful in­volve­ment with a ho­tel that al­ready had such a strong per­son­al­ity, and to keep our de­sign in line with that. An­other mem­o­rable project was our first foray in the Mid­dle East— the Radis­son Blu ho­tel in Me­dia City, Dubai. When we first started work­ing on it, it was branded as a Radis­son ho­tel but af­ter we fin­ished work­ing on it we man­aged to re­brand it as Radis­son Blu. It was a recog­ni­tion of our ca­pa­bil­ity to work on both in­te­rior de­signs and the brand­ing of a ho­tel.

Could you share more about your cre­ative process?

When you start a project, you need to un­der­stand its sense of place, the peo­ple you’re tar­get­ing and the ex­pec­ta­tions of the client. The con­cept needs to be grounded in a solid his­tory and sto­ry­line. That’s what we do—we cre­ate a story that re­lates to peo­ple emo­tion­ally. Take the Pull­man Jakarta, for ex­am­ple. This ho­tel is a con­crete space that re­minds me of mu­se­ums and con­tem­po­rary art. I thought about the dy­namic In­done­sian art scene, and I felt that I can give a voice to th­ese artists, so we cre­ated the ho­tel as a mu­seum, to give guests the chance to look at and in­ter­act with the art­works. I think that peo­ple visit mu­se­ums be­cause they want it to be a re­flec­tion of the place they are vis­it­ing. This is how I think ho­tels should be—to re­flect peo­ple liv­ing in a mo­ment in time, while envisioning their fu­ture.

“TO ME, ART IS AN IN­TER­EST­ING WAY OF PRO­JECT­ING THE EVO­LU­TION OF A PLACE”

How does the use of art shape your cre­ative process?

To me, art is an in­ter­est­ing way of pro­ject­ing the evo­lu­tion of a place; it dic­tates the shape, ma­te­ri­als and in­spi­ra­tion of a project. The Sof­i­tel Mum­bai and Pull­man Jakarta ho­tels were the first in­stances where I started look­ing at projects with an eye on art. This gave me the im­pulse to open my own gallery. Now we’re work­ing with art, in­te­rior de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture through a very holis­tic ap­proach; there are now projects where art is tak­ing prece­dence in ev­ery­thing we do. We also work on land­scap­ing when we de­sign re­sorts.

Why do you think ho­tel-style in­te­ri­ors are pop­u­lar with home­own­ers?

Many clients like hav­ing a well-made bed with ac­cent pil­lows, beau­ti­ful fab­rics and bed­side lights; they want a space that is calm and well-thought out like a ho­tel room. I think that ho­tel and res­i­den­tial de­sign have fed off each other in the past decade; this syn­ergy has much more of an ef­fect. Now, the trend is about recre­at­ing the cosy en­vi­ron­ment of the home within a ho­tel. The re­sult: beau­ti­ful homes where ev­ery­thing is so pris­tine, and ho­tels that give you some­thing to dream of for your home.

LEFT TO RIGHT The spa lounge of Pull­man Jakarta Cen­tral Park in Indonesia; French in­te­rior de­signer Is­abelle Mi­aja; the VIP suite at So Sof­i­tel Sin­ga­pore; the Ozen by At­mos­phere at Maad­hoo re­sort in Mal­dives

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