Mya Myitzu brings a fusion of beauty and functionality to Myanmar
INTERIOR designer Mya Myitzu, founder of M. Interior Design Co (M.ID), started her business six years ago and it has now become a success as demand for her services grows in Myanmar.
According to the company’s records, the aggregate area of her projects has reached about 23,000 square metres.
Mya Myitzu is one of the achievers and innovators of the country selected for the Huawei Future Shapers Project.
Below are excerpts of an interview with The Myanmar Times about her thoughts on the country’s design industry where only a few women thrive.
Could you tell us about your current businesses? I founded M. Interior Design Co (M.ID) six years ago. In addition to interior design, we provide project and design management services. For businesses that have won franchises from international brands, we create modern and innovative designs for shop layouts. M.ID has designed shop displays for brands like Coach, Aigner, Furla, Versus, Pandora, Bering, Love Moschino, Shiseido and Benetton in-high end shopping malls such as Junction City. We provide services that displays here equal the high standards of displays in other countries.
Currently, we’ve accepted two home decoration projects. One of them will become the biggest mansion in Myanmar.
We also established SONDER Living Showroom two years ago. When some friends of mine requested help in decorating their homes, I couldn’t do it as I was busy with my work. Thus, I thought of opening a furniture showroom to make it convenient for people who want to buy furniture as well as decorate their homes.
We also organise “Yangon Zay”, a sustainable themed market together with the showroom in the compound for those who want to sell environmentally friendly products and healthy foods.
How did you enter the design industry? While attending university abroad, I took many internships. After graduation, I worked for a world-famous interior designer for three years and I learnt a lot from that designer.
I graduated with a political science degree while I was still working for that designer. I also attended design courses at night. I learnt that art-based knowledge is important for design and only then will designs be perfect.
Why did you choose to start your business? When I said I would start this business, even my family was skeptical. They questioned whether interiordesign work was needed in Myanmar. Are there any people who use such services…etc? However, I did well in the business while I was abroad, so I told them there might be people interested in the services I am offering and then I can show my talent. That’s how I started.
Besides, there are young professionals who want to work with me. I want to help them develop their talents. I am always trying my best to provide them with the highest salaries in the industry. I want to share with them what I learnt throughout my life. If my employees are going to work abroad, I guide them carefully about communication skills and technical know-how so that they are always up to date and never feel insecure.
There is only a handful of women entrepreneurs in this industry, what are the challenges you faced when you started this business? I grew up among brothers and I was treated equally so I’ve never felt gender discrimination. I studied and worked abroad and throughout that time I didn’t feel any discrimination. But when I returned to Myanmar and started this design business, I started to feel it a little.
The career I chose has only a few women, not just in Myanmar but also in Asia. Some conservative clients have appeared not to believe what I advise them because I am a woman. I am also petite so sometimes when I visit construction sites, I get treated like I don’t belong there. But they realise later that my views and advice are very useful for them. The points I raised were valid so they started accepting me.
You are very knowledgeable about design, do you have any plans to open interior design schools or teach design? Although I am so busy, I have a plan to conduct design courses though I cannot start right now. If I start a course, it would have to be a threemonth course at least as an advanced level option for those with basic knowledge. I cannot start schools yet.
Which of your designs are the most in demand and how do you manage to ensure good quality design? About three years ago, industrial design started becoming very popular in Myanmar. It is a simple form of design using iron and steel, very light and cost effective. Although the clients specifically request for industrial design, I create by combining with other design visions in addition to iron and steel.
We make efforts to get the best and finest designs for the customers and also not to come up with similar designs. We limit the numbers of projects in one year to ensure quality designs. We do not accept more than the numbers we set. If we accept many orders, we are worried the designs might be affected.
I accept clients who like my designs and are able to work well with me as I take time to pay extra attention to my clients.
What advice would you give people who want to do interior decoration by themselves? When drawing designs – let’s say for a house – you have to draw intricately. You have to take caution. So, if you don’t want to hand it over to another designer and if you have time, there are many websites and magazines related to design in this day and age. You can research and study them; you will be able to draw up a design as you see fit after spending some time on it.
The most important thing is to negotiate with your contractor and make them draw the design you want. You have to discuss with them the tiniest details such as the materials used.
I support those who want to do it themselves. Try it first and eventually things will work out. We worked overseas before, but the market demand here is different so we had to learn a lot.
Why do you think interior design in necessary? The majority of the people think that design is something related to aesthetics, but it is more than that. In design, there is something called “layout”. And layout is extremely crucial for people’s lifestyles.
If one thing goes wrong, this can affect the entire family without anyone noticing. It’s very important to know where to place things, how to assemble a room, and what to do so to ensure good air ventilation and to optimise natural light.
After making the rooms, there is a need to decide which one should be for the parents and which should be for the children. If the children’s study room is too small, dim and doesn’t have good ventilation, they won’t be able to study well and it would have an impact on their education.
There are many related things, so interior decoration should be done while considering architectural and design works.
What are your plans for the future? I want to continue growing my design and lifestyle business in Myanmar. If interior decoration becomes more popular in Myanmar, there will be many people who can benefit from my work.