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Designing Homes - Modernism & Art by Isabelle Miaja


Designing with Art is very complex – I never know what inspires me first – but what matters in the end, is the creative process and how I derive as a designer to create a unique, personal and energy-filled space.

Continuing the Design Home series, this design titled “Moderne”, brings Art Deco style as the main setting with its symmetrical, geometric, streamlined and pleasing to the eye architectural forms.

Looking back in history, Art Deco, also called ‘style moderne’ movement in the decorative arts and architecture spheres, originated in the 1920s and developed into a major style in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s. Its name was derived from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, where the style was first exhibited.

A style that is recognised by its elaborate materials, mesmerising geometric shapes defining its aesthetic, it's one of the most enduring, distinct, and exciting design movements ever. Art Deco began to take off within the fashion and jewellery industry, which then began influencing furniture design, propelling the movement further.

The fashion house of Paquin –with Jeanne’s famous “Chimere’ dress represented the changing role of women in society making a significant impact on the 1920s Paris fashion scene. Paquin combined various cultural influences including Egyptian and Chinese elements in the form of geometric shapes and motifs.

China’s decorative motifs also spurred the creation of an individual 'Cartier' style and in the arts, interest in the era is also best embodied by Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, an opera set in medieval China and first staged at La Scala, in Milan, in 1926, 22 years after Madame Butterfly, another Puccini masterpiece, which was set in Japan.

Chinoiserie was an intrinsic part of the Art Deco scene. The aspects of Chinese painting that were integrated into European and American visual arts include asymmetrical compositions, light-hearted subject matter and a general sense of capriciousness.

Introducing into our “Moderne” design the works of Kim Xu (above) – gives to the design its perfect balance – His sense of drama and fashion, as well as colours, are the perfect embodiment of today’s views on women - Guile and fashion with an exquisite sense of femininity are still influencing the Art world - Born and raised in Suzhou, China and moving to Shanghai to pursue his passion for art and fashion, Kim's art very much reflects his personality and life experiences, fusing both traditional Chinese watercolour techniques - a skill he learned from his grandfather - and Western-style oil-based techniques.

So as Coco Chanel said, “An interior is the natural projection of the soul” and like her, I believe we are the repository of the past and the dreamers of the future – as a designer I learn and reinterpret to express an emotion, that is why each design is unique and the reflection of my own imagination.

Nissa Kauppila's immersion in Chinese painting has awakened a sense of fragility; her work explores the use of line and colour as tendrils of tension while embodying a sense of wonderment for the natural and industrial worlds. She challenges the notion of context, forcing the viewer to confront the abrupt beauty of life and death through the explosive movements in colour, line and depth.

Choosing Nissa’s work (left) for “Modernism” brings back nostalgia and America’s “a fleur de peau” sensitivity. So present in Gatsby’s and Ernest Hemingway world and brought back in each stroke of her brush. The exuberance of the movement she masters so amazingly– are synonymous of the expression of freedom permeating the Roaring 20’s, even though the sense of restrain and delicate movements still permeates – in homage to the natural grace emanating from the old Chinese paintings – Nissa combines elegantly East and West – a perfect fit to my elegant surroundings.

"My works are the result of feelings."

Finally, choosing Alison’s work for my “Style Moderne” I am pushing the concept one step further – in the realm of pure emotion – In each painting is portrayed someone’s introspection and what looks like at first sightlines and circles combined with an acute sense of colour composition, is the depiction of someone mind’s journey.

Subtly placed on the canvas – nothing is randomly drawn. What seems to just be beautiful geometrical perspectives, is in fact the recollections of a past and the artist’s infinite patience to bring out a unique sensibility.

Alison Bignon’s work to me is the pure essence of Art Deco – what you see is not what is…Behind each mask we put on, exists a world that desires to be peeled and deciphered. Through her careful researches, an analysis that pierces the strongest of façades, a mirror to our soul, reflecting back the rawness of our feelings – and though we bravely put the pretence of a smile – behind it, the immense desire to be seen as we are.

Combining her background and experience as a classically trained actor, director, and visual artist, Alison transcribes and creates the stories of her sitters using a range of media including videoed performance monologues, paintings, drawings and engravings. She describes this process as being similar to the work of an anthropologist that archives their research. Emotions form the central subject of Alison’s work, leaving one with an intricately detailed and complex composition that combines disparate elements to form a coherent and harmonic whole. Her paintings seep delicate strokes of colour – a spectrum of emotions, such as a painful wound that is difficult to heal and may scar over time. These markings of time – between past and present – are sewn together by the artist’s signature use of red thread, which acts as a subtle link between these intersections.

Isabelle Miaja

May 2020




Lounge Chair:


Coffee Table:

Side Table:


Wall Covering:


Artwork (left):

Bai Bing Bing's Post Modernism

46 x 52 cm (unframed) - Limited Edition Print

Price Available Upon Request.

Artwork (right):

Petite Suite dans Fil (2018)

28 x 42 cm (unframed) Ink, watercolours rotring

Price Available Upon Request.

Artwork (left):

WÚ TÍ 32 (2016)

112 Diameter - Watercolour and Ink on Rice Paper

Price Available Upon Request.

Original Design by Isabelle Miaja.

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