What to do when you are mad about interior design and your favorite store has had to close...
A lesson in interior style: learn from the pros from the comfort of your own home
We turn to the interior designers who we particularly admire and who have been kind enough to share their tips with us.
Style advice, design tips and decorating wisdom.
Today we talk to
Maya, can you introduce yourself?
I’m a Parisian mother of two. I spent some fifteen years working in various different roles in the marketing department of Louis Vuitton before deciding to shift my attention away from fashion towards architecture and interior design. I trained at LISAA and at the same time I opened my studio, Atelier Hans. The name isn’t mine, it’s a homage to my grandfather who taught me about architecture when I was a child. For the past two years I have been working passionately alongside my clients on renovation and decoration projects.
Your interior design mantra?
The first word that comes to mind is softness. To which I would add elegance and simplicity.
What do you think of the concept of good taste?
It’s totally subjective and I don’t think such a thing as universal good taste exists. But if I had to find a common denominator in the different expressions of good taste, I think I would say an ability to create a sense of natural harmony, even if I can’t exactly specify what the methodology for doing so necessarily is.
If you were a room in the house?
The sitting room. It’s the room in the house where everything happens. It’s almost always the centre of an apartment, and for me is like the theatre, a stage upon which our lives are played out. It’s a room with a wide variety of facets: it’s a reception room, but also a place where deeply private things happen, in the evening, glass in hand when seated comfortably on the sofa. In our house we work there too. The children at the coffee table, my husband with his computer on his knees and me with my fabric samples all over the place on one side of the room. There is always something going on and I love that.
Chez Maya - illustration Lara Marchetti
The top 3 things on your bucket list
- To cross Europe on the Orient Express
- To see the cherry blossom in flower in Japan
- To restore an old shepherd’s hut in Corsica
If you were an artist?
I think I’d rather be a photographer! It’s difficult to only come up with one name, there are so many inspiring artists, each in their own way.
Your dream project?
A little hotel reimagined like a big house.
Your current obsession?
Knitting! I come from a family of knitters. For a long time, I wasn’t at all interested and then a few months ago I started to knit. I think that it’s a really interesting way to understand volume, texture and colour. And perhaps it’s also my (unconscious) way of keeping close to the world of fashion now that I’ve left it behind.
Is there a link between fashion and decoration?
For me fashion and interior decoration are two interconnected worlds. What applies to one can be applied to the other. Just as you dress yourself, you can also dress an interior. The way a piece of clothing fits has parallels to the way an apartment feels. In both areas, it’s a question of textures, materials and colours which can be assembled to tell a story. Each time the result is different, even if the ingredients are the same. There is the central question of the personality that is hiding behind each project and that’s what fascinates me. Clothing speaks volumes about us, as does our home. There is a real link to our most personal nature in fashion and I think it’s even more so in decorating.
How do you start work on a project?
There are three major elements in my projects: the soul of a place, that I always strive to preserve, what my clients want and how that fits with their character and their way of life, and finally, my own vision. The fusion of these three factors makes each project a unique and personal project.
Aesthetics and functionality: a delicate combination?
They are often presented as opposites, but I don’t think they are necessarily mutually exclusive. For an interior designer or decorator, they are inextricably linked. The requirement for functionality is part of the creative process, the need for one feeds the other. Bespoke carpentry is the perfect illustration of this. The point of departure – the need for storage space – is fairly banal – but the aesthetic possibilities are endless. And this type of construction can be completely integrated into the building, so much so that they ultimately exist as one.
How do you give rhythm and energy to a space?
There are multiple possibilities and they can all work together:
- Lines: mix curves and straight lines. I strive to do this systematically in my work. So, for example in a room with mainly straight lines, I’ll always look to create an archway or some rounded corners.
- Colour: colour is one of the easiest ways to create a sense of movement or to highlight something or draw a line across a space. And the nuances of colour you choose will increase or reduce intensity.
- Materials: I love to mix different materials and textures such as linen, wool and velvet. Contrast is easy to create in a bedroom with the bedlinen for example, or by using a combination of throws and cushions.
Furniture: I like to mix designer pieces with more mainstream furniture and some antique finds. Mixing and matching steers you away from uniformity. There is often quite a bit of vintage in my projects as older pieces add character and soul. There is always a story behind a piece of antique furniture.
- Lights: They are so important and you should never hesitate to mix different types (overhead, wall and lamp) so that you can vary the intensity of the light according to the atmosphere you are trying to create.
White or a more colourful palette?
I love white for its brightening, calming qualities. I could easily create a completely white apartment with just a bit of wood to warm it up. But I also love how colour is so expressive and allows you to tell a story in home. I like to use it to the halfway point on a wall or on shelves for example. I often use gentle colours all over for a cocooning effect which can be perfect for a bedroom.
The art of craft
In order bring a project to fruition I work with a team of artisans whose eye and expertise is complementary to mine and absolutely essential. I admire their work and knowledge hugely and can spend hours watching and learning from them. So often they are in the wings but they really deserve more attention to be paid
to what they do, we owe them so much.
Your favourite LMS sofa ?
The Sossusvlei without hesitation! I’m currently working on a project where we are upholstering a Sossusvlei in different fabrics on the seat and back cushions. There is a wide range of fabrics and you can really get into the detail.
It’s a huge advantage to be able to personalise a sofa and means you end up with something that is entirely suited to the atmosphere you are trying to create. My clients were particularly happy about this service and want to do the same thing for their bedhead. They should be acquiring the Norrebro very soon!
What are you doing to improve the world of tomorrow?
In a dematerialized world where speed is always increasing, I want to continue to be able to spend time with my clients. Listening to people is at the heart of what we do and can’t be underestimated. I love how creative talking with my clients can be – wonderful results come from our discussions and collaborations. My engagement for the future is to try to remain true to these very human values.
Maya's shopping list
Photographer Emmanuelle Thion / @anneemmanuellethion