Exclusive Interview Miaja Design Group Singapore

 MIAJA – “Where Design meets Art”

MIAJA Design Group is an international Design firm based in Singapore, providing luxurious Interior Designs and Architectural Concepts for some of the world’s most prestigious hotel groups, resorts, boutiques, corporate and high-end residential clients, attracting International recognition for the quality of the works, establishing a reputation for its “unique and distinctive” approach to each project.

MIAJA Signature is to also create Unique art pieces collections for each project, bringing in a local creative inspiration. Tapping into the country’s cultural background and it’s unique artistic translation, we infuse that aspect into the project to give it its richest flavoring and distinctive stamp.

Isabelle Miaja

Founded over 20 years ago by Isabelle Miaja, the firm has grown into strong outfit headquartered in Singapore. MIAJA‘s design ethos is that each and every project should be innovative with its own unique style and personality. This approach has attracted international recognition for its personalised designs for projects such as the Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai and Pullman Hotel in Jakarta recently.

Artwork Main Lobby Installation Hexagon by MIAJA with Lasvit – Photographed by Jorg Sundermann

Growing up in Paris Isabelle moved to the States to study and acquire her Interior design training. In 1995, Isabelle relocated to Singapore, the design hub of Asia. Now strategically located in the dynamic region, she established her own Interior Design consultancy firm “Isabelle Miaja and Associates ” (IMA), specializing in Boutique hotels and High end residential. Isabelle Miaja’s personal pursuit in relentlessly developing her design skills and knowledge of the hospitality industry has gained her increasing recognition throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

MIAJA Furniture – Feltme

 “The Essence of style is the Art of being Unique”Isabelle Miaja

Asian Interior Design have met with Isabelle Miaja, the Managing Director of Miaja Design Group,Creative Force.

See the exclusive interview:

What is your philosophy in the field of creation?

I always seek to ground the design with a story line that becomes the anchor to the project. The Story can be found on the land, the city, the area, the traditional background.

In interior design , how would you describe your style? What inspires you? How do you create an interior design project, whether it is a commercial one or a home?

I would describe my style to be Artistically inspired. I mix styles easily as well as colours. I have a natural instinct to create design that feel good upon entering the spaces and yet I manage to introduce elements that are un-expected in an artistic approach and also complete the overall story that has been created. 

Sofitel So Singapore – Main Lobby – Photographed by Jorg Sundermann
Sofitel So Singapore – Lofy Room Guestroom – Photographed bt Jorg Sundermann

There is a lot of research involved, I go into history as well as art references, I make a point also to understand what the client seeks as an achievement, that goes for Commercial and Residential. We are creators and we also have a duty to the Mecene! Therefore we need to take into consideration the owners and the Operators which doesn’t mean we cannot interpret with our own style! A style they seeked in the first place!

What are some of your most popular designs/projects? Tell us a bit about some of your designs/projects and what you love about them. What’s your favourite and why?

I have had a long career and each project hold a special place in my heart. It is not only the story of a finished home or hotel, it is also the story of a journey…that is what I hold dear! I am proud of each project as they hold by themselves an different inspiration, it is like having children, you can never say that you have favorites but in the heart you can have more affinity to some.

Desert Palm UAE – Epicure Cafe
Desert Palm UAE – Guest Bedroom

In their uniqueness and expression of growth for myself and the team of designers I work with, projects like the Desert Palm hotel in Dubai for Per Aquum signifies a new turn in my designs, simplicity almost convent like with horses in the background..as it is a boutique hotel with Polo fields.. a very equestrian environment! The green fields in the middle of the desert a stark contrast! Oasis like! 

Desert Palm UAE – Lime Spa

The Pullman Jakarta has also ‎been a great revelator for me as it is the first hotel where Art became a pivotal anchor in the design! Personally chosen or created, it is now a hotel com Modern Museum! 

Pullman Central Park Jakarta BUNK Lounge Bar
Pullman Central Park Jakarta Lobby Reception Area

The ambiance is clean and yet rich! 

The latest opening is a new turn in our approach as I have clearly emphasised my own artistic approach ‎and created an Art collection for the Sofitel So Singapore! It is called “Kaleidoscope” and it is developed with the idea of two cultures being integrated into one artistic language.

Pullman Central Park Jakarta Executive Suite Living Area

Sofitel So is a Early 19th century conservation building and it was a great challenge to designs the rooms and public spaces but I find the more the challenge the better the result! You think more deeply of best solution to make the most out of what seems a problem and turn it to an advantage!

Sofitel So Singapore – Lofty Guest Balcony – Photographed by Jorg Sundermann

I can talk about each project endlessly as they all open new ideas, associations and new people!

How about product design? Tell us a bit about the objects you design?

When we design an hotel with a precise story as a conducting line, we are taking the project as a whole and that includes furniture, lighting, accessories and Art. We specify some and design some depending on what we are creating overall. Details are very present in our designs and they make the overall feeling more intimate and personalised! From cushions, to plates as Art for the restaurants, we try as much as possible to insulate uniqueness and a sense of belonging working with local artists, manufacturers and twisting the classic into a new approach, the style is kept but the purpose is changed. 

Pullman Central Park Jakarta Deluxe Room

What colours, textures and furniture pieces do you love the most?

I am a big fan of textures, I love glass, wood and mirrors. I also try to keep raw materials true to their nature and at the moment the past centuries stirs my imagination into reinventing new forms and adapting our sensibilities into the 21rst century without completely dissociating from the classical shapes. I love the old and find it a great challenge to make it relevant into today’s new technologies and way of life!

Sofitel So Singapore – Gold-tiled Pool – Photographed by Jorg Sundermann

In your opinion, which will be the top trends in interior design for 2014?

We often comment how we are now pressured to keep up with the new trends much faster than we used to as technologies are so rapidly evolving. It gives us new playgrounds to insert into interior design and the world becoming so easy to criss cross our field of imagination knows no border! 

I personally will emphasise on ‎researching the best of what man made materials can offer, not only to add sustainability but capture the new flow of technical abilities and incorporate them into our hotels! We have a duty to show the way to our clients as well as to the end costumers. The colors of the season might not be as fluctuating as fashion, but we do have trends that move faster than the seven years we used to be given as a lasting design, there is that “fashion” aspect we must weave and today we work with jewel tones for the more daring clients, while others subtly move from beige to pastels. Being french and often attending the fairs, I hunt for the latest shapes, materials as well as rediscovering the old. The end result will be very eclectic with a strong sense of colours and originality without clashing and hurting the eye! 

MIAJA Furniture Tattoo

Which essential tips can you give to a person who is redecorating his/her house this spring?

Stay true to your nature, we all have a background that needs to be respected as well as an education that opened new understandings, a blend of both always gives a balanced result!  adapt to technology in advance if not it will catch with you in ways that will open walls again..never a nice feeling! ‎Colours are of personal taste, just make sure they don’t clash! Ecclecticism is great just don’t end up with “Bric a Brac” 

Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

Islands in the Maldives where we work on both Architecture and Interiors, it has been quite exciting steps for myself as well as the teams! Fiji will also start soon, and the research into the cultural aspect both in art and everyday life, is an exciting aspect of our designs. It is enriching and makes our work challenging and satisfying.

Xperience Restaurant Artwork Metropolitan Connections by MIAJA – Photographed by Jorg Sundermann

Describe both yourself in three words

Balanced, refined with a dash of impertinence!

Website: Miaja Design Group

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