Designer Living: Green space surrounds Isabelle Miaja's Singapore home

The designer behind Dubai's Desert Palm resort has filled her custom-built, four-bedroom with an eclectic mix of objects.
"I struggled with wanting more light, which means fewer walls," Isabelle says, "but also wanting to hang lots of art." Courtesy of Miaja Design Associates
"I struggled with wanting more light, which means fewer walls," Isabelle says, "but also wanting to hang lots of art." Courtesy of Miaja Design Associates

Where do you live?

We live in Singapore, in a house that faces the jungle on one side and a park on another. We chose to build our house on that piece of land because of the surroundings. Singapore is a green city and that is reflected in many places, but other areas can be quite congested due to the scarcity of land. Therefore, the unique features of greenery and no neighbours to speak of are what appealed to us most.

The house covers 8,000 square feet and is set on two levels. The architecture is very simple. Because I am an interior designer I'm more interested in how you live within a space than what it looks like on the outside.

What does your home say about you?

Simple lines create a clean canvas and a backdrop to all the colourful touches that define one's loves - coup de coeur as we would say in French. There are bits and pieces that reflect one's journey; a carefully chosen array of objects that speak of moments and experiences. Art, sculptures, mirrors, artefacts and furniture from all over the world create a patchwork of stories to be told.

Is there anything you would change about it, or anything you wished you had done differently?

I had to make a difficult decision between form and function because I struggled with wanting more light, which means fewer walls, but also wanting to hang lots of art.

What is the key to creating a happy home?

You shouldn't be afraid to live in it. You need spaces where family and friends can gather and participate, such as a big kitchen or an open concept.

What items would no home of yours be without?

Animals, art, sculptures, music and laughter, a reading corner, tons of books and a good chair to sink into. A tranquil bedroom to rest in and a great kitchen to bake and cook in. Also, a painting corner, although I am still waiting to finally put brush to canvas. It's my dream to find the time to paint while listening to great music.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

I like to shop at galleries and buy from individual artists who are just starting out and whose talent and creativity I would like to encourage.

What are you working on right now?

We are presently working on the Pullman hotel in Jakarta and a Sofitel in Mumbai, as well as a resort in the Maldives. There are also a Millennium and a Traders in Qatar. As for our work in Abu Dhabi, we are working with Rotana on a resort and a city hotel.

When it comes to residential projects, we are doing the new Trump Residences and a high-end residential development in South East Asia, as well as private residences all over the world.

What inspires your work?

An object, a theme or a story that we create based on an architectural element or a place.

Who are your favourite designers?

Imaginative ones. I love designers that create a world and take you on a journey, but make it believable.

How would you describe your interior style?

Eclectic, surprising, unconventional, unexpected and yet tasteful and human.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

On a mountain top, in the middle of nature, at the top of the tallest building and in a museum of modern art. All these images come to mind and reflect my different aspirations. Mountains for purity and truth; nature for its magical potential and source of renewal; the tallest building because of my awe of human creativity, and modern art for the surprising bursts of the mind and its translation into objects and pictures.

How do you like to relax?

With a fireplace, snow outside, green fields, rows of tulips, a horse grazing outside the window, a great plate of spaghetti prepared by my love, children laughing next door and a good book to sink into.

What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room or living space?

Change the artwork, paint the walls, add new cushions and move the furniture.

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Published: August 18, 2011 04:00 AM


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