Founder and creative director of international design firm miaja design group and miaja gallery.
Those who desire hotel-style interiors will appreciate the work of Isabelle Miaja. The French designer, specialising in hospitality and residential design, uses her insider knowledge of the hotel industry to provide stylish solutions for the residential market.
Having been based in Singapore for over 20 years, she is also involved in its burgeoning art scene, collaborating with well-known artists to exhibit their work in her gallery. She recently conceptualised the scenography of Art de Vivre a la Francaise, a showcase of furniture, accessories and lifestyle products by French luxury brands, organised by Business France.
What can Singaporeans learn from the French, when it comes to decorating the home?
France has a long-standing history of luxury and living with it, so this ease of living with luxury is what people should learn to feel comfortable with. For example, it’s okay to use beautiful glasses, not just leave them inside the cabinet to look at; and walk on expensive carpets, instead of going around it. Instead of buying nice things to be looked at, buy things to be used — they are not sacred, and homes are not meant to be like museums! We work so hard to have beautiful things and don’t want them to get damaged, but we shouldn’t put luxury on a pedestal.
Share a tip for designing and styling a space.
I think that objects of beauty should be the starting point. Start with an object that you have the most affinity with – an item you love the most – and build everything around it. It can be a vase, or artwork, that will give you the colours to play with. I would want to know from a client what inspires them and start from a single object, rather than think about the bigger picture first.
There is a trend of hotel-inspired living now. Why is this so?
People desire the hotel look and feel at home because hotel design pays a lot of attention to comfort and social interaction, as well as factors in the individuality of guests. It’s the hotel industry that is pushing the boundaries now, and there’s also a lot of money being put into technology, such that you have things like mood lighting and automated controls. Hotels are designed to provide the highest level of well-being, so when most compare their home environment with this, there is a lot lacking. It’s all the subtle details, such as a good mattress, that play a huge role.
What trends do you foresee getting more popular in residential design?
We are heading into a world where being “utilitarian” is not enough. Things need to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Home automation will also become more popular. The millennial generation has always been living with technology, and they will be the ones taking over, and creating homes that are better dedicated to their well-being.
THE MIA JA DESIGN GROUP AND MIA JA GALLERY IS A T 190 BUKIT TIMAH RO AD, TEL: 6737-8979.
Text: LOUISA CLARE LIM / Photos: STUDIO MIAJA.