Designer Spotlight

London-based Interior Designer Natalia Miyar Celebrates the Beauty of Luxury Materials

Portrait of Natalia Miyar
After studying art and architecture in the U.S. and working at noted U.K. firms, Natalia Miyar launched her London design atelier in 2016, focusing on highly customized spaces that feature bespoke furnishings (portrait courtesy of Miyar). Top: In this apartment in London’s Battersea Power Station, a pair of brass-framed Paolo Moschino armchairs face a couple of bespoke velvet swivel chairs across a trio of side tables with bronzed-oak slab tops. The brutalist screen is vintage. Photo by Simon Brown

What career might you anticipate for a teenager living in Miami, whose vacations were spent in Europe exploring Renaissance palaces and churches and who went on to study art history at Brown University? Antiques dealer? Academic? Museum curator? In Natalia Miyar’s case, you would be short of the mark. For her, it was the path to a career as among the leading proponents of larger-than-life modernist interior design — one whose success is evidenced by the huge following she has garnered since setting up her London atelier, in 2016.

Her aesthetic isn’t a rejection of classicism. Rather, it embraces what she loves most about the historic buildings she visited in her youth — a joyous celebration of materials, of the bronze, marble and stone that was carved, cast and polished to flatter the egos of the Medici, Pius III and Louis XIV. Miyar found ornament, however, a distraction, and after graduating with a master’s in architecture from the University of Miami, she decided that an elemental but bold approach to design offered the best way to exploit the potential of those materials — and to create distinctive spaces that reflected the personalities of their owners.

Her voyage of self-discovery continued in London, where she moved in 2007. There, it became clear to her that she would have to shift her career trajectory and cross the blurred line between architecture and interior design. “My interest is not just in the structure of a building but in the infinite possibilities of what’s within, which seems so rich with creative possibilities,” she explains. After a spell at Candy & Candy, the property behemoth behind No 1 London, Noho Square and Chelsea Barracks, she became design director at Helen Green Design before striking out on her own six years later. Today, she works with a team of interior designers and architects in a studio overlooking the Thames at Chelsea.

Rather than turning her back on architecture, Miyar uses her intimate understanding of the practice as a foundation to build on. This enables her to take a holistic view of a project, in particular the relationship between a room and its contents. “It’s amazing the impact that just two inches can have on the proportions of a room,” she says.

A sitting area in a home in Ibiza, designed by Natalia Miyar
This home in Ibiza features a pair of 1960s Branco e Preto jacaranda-wood chairs and vintage marble side tables, along with a bespoke rug and shelving by Miyar. Photo by Ana Lui

Miyar’s experience and confidence in both disciplines mean she can ignore the distinctions between the two. This is not new: The buildings of some of the world’s greatest architects — Wren, Adam, Soane, Lutyens, Gray, Le Corbusier, Lloyd Wright — were driven by a single creative vision, inside and out, down to the last door handle. But in the past century, this approach became increasingly rare, as the planning and technical aspects of construction, not to mention the regulations governing it, became ever more complex.

Creating a multidisciplinary practice has allowed Miyar to explore a far broader range of possibilities, specifically people-centric interiors that she hopes resonate with their owners’ voices. That’s the reason bespoke is so central to her vision, the pieces she designs conjuring a look that is both distinctive and unique. “There can be few greater luxuries than something that is made just for you,” she says.  

Miyar’s style is one that travels well, and in her impressive interiors, custom-made furniture sits with antiques and design-led pieces from around the globe. In an Ibizan project, for example, a particularly striking feature is a pair of bespoke rustic doors crafted from timber reclaimed from a 300-year-old house in the Italian city of Cremona. Elsewhere on the property, Miyar jumped forward a few centuries with a pair of 1960s jacaranda-wood Branco e Preto chairs that lend the space a distinctly Latin flavor, while in an adjacent room the dull luster of bronze is celebrated in Volker Haug’s contemporary wall sconces. Ibiza’s balmy Mediterranean climate make natural materials particularly attractive, and in another project on the island, a simple stone table in the library takes the heat out of a hot day.

The home office at the Battersea Power Station apartment designed by Natalia Miyar
In the home office of the Battersea Power Station apartment, a hand-painted wall with an abstract design sets the tone for Miyar’s bespoke pieces, which include a custom chair and a monumental desk topped with a Pierre Cardin brass lamp. The brass-and-Murano-glass floor lamp is vintage. Photo by Simon Brown

Back in London, Miyar has been commissioned to design a number of high-profile projects, including apartments in Battersea Power Station, Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic structure on the banks of the Thames. In this expansive property, which is blessed with breathtaking views over the capital, travertine tables bring a smooth fluidity to the crisp interior while a black iron screen is a dramatic addition to the space. 

Living room designed by Natalia Miyar
Miyar created a relaxing space in the sunny living room with a custom U-shaped sectional sofa and a pair of vintage travertine coffee tables. Photo by Simon Brown

Another of Miyar’s much-heralded transformations is an elegant apartment just over the river, in Victoria, at No. 1 Palace Street, originally a magnificent hotel constructed in 1860. Here, she indulged her passion for late-20th-century design with a Rosa Dei Venti table by Mario Ceroli that combines graphic shapes with subtle texture. In the living room, she looked to the preceding decade to evoke the spirit of travel with an Arne Norell Safari chair. The common denominator at Palace Street — as in all her projects — is a celebration of the tactile quality of materials, old and new. Ceramics are also a particular focus, notably the contemporary work of Alison Lousada, which injects further interest into the carefully honed interiors. 

London dining room features a brass-and-bronze chandelier as well as a table with a textured top and lacquer and brass base, both designed by Miyar.
The dining room at No. 1 Palace Street features a brass-and-bronze chandelier as well as a table with a textured top and lacquer-and-brass base, both designed by Miyar. The painting is by Gustavo Acosta. Photo by Simon Brown

In Miyar’s world, an understanding of people, places and materials is a route to creating interiors that not only evoke their past but suit their present situation, whether in London, France, Spain or New York. “Whatever the project’s location,” she explains, “the starting point is an attempt to reflect its setting.” 

Get the Look

Boomerang travertine coffee table, 1970s, offered by Watteeu
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Boomerang travertine coffee table, 1970s, offered by Watteeu
Volker Haug Wall Stack 3, new
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Volker Haug Wall Stack 3, new
Arne Norell Kontiki Safari Armchair, 1970s, offered by Automaton
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Arne Norell Kontiki Safari Armchair, 1970s, offered by Automaton
Mario Ceroli Rosa dei Venti Table, 1990s, offered by WALLECTOR SRL
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Mario Ceroli Rosa dei Venti Table, 1990s, offered by WALLECTOR SRL
Alison Lousada Volcanic Clay and Porcelain Vessel, new
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Alison Lousada Volcanic Clay and Porcelain Vessel, new
Jacques Adnet Semicircular Mahogany Desk, ca. 1936, offered by Maison Gerard
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Jacques Adnet Semicircular Mahogany Desk, ca. 1936, offered by Maison Gerard

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