The Luxurist

A compendium for luxury living

Meet The Tastemaker

Podcast Ep 5: Cultural Design with Natalia Miyar

The LuxDeco 100 designer on her multicultural design approach

Jon Sharpe By Jon SharpeChief Creative Officer

The projects of London-based interior designer and architect Natalia Miyar cut a somewhat unique figure against the restrained aesthetic of the British interior design scene—they're full of pattern and unafraid of colour. The US-born designer's celebrated style blends textured finishes with smart upholstery, pairs vivid artwork with custom-designed statement furniture, and contrasts casual luxury with subtle glamour.

This penchant for the colourful and irreverent is perhaps most attributable to Natalia's rich, multicultural background. The designer boasts roots to three culturally unique locations—a vibrant birth place, a spirited hometown and a storied adopted home. Untethered to any one particular style as a result, Natalia mixes the memories and experiences of each to wild abandon in her work, establishing her as one of London's most adventurous talents.

I caught up with the House & Garden 100 and LuxDeco 100 designer to discuss her cultural heritage, contextual design and how culture will play into interiors more authentically in the future.  

Subscribe, share and review on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Google Podcasts.

 

Life in Mexico was just all colour. I just remember that so vividly. I remember a really beautiful life with these incredible old buildings.

 

Don’t miss

  • Natalia's "confusing" multi-cultural upbringing at 03:24
  • Why contextual design is important to her at 13:16
  • The designer on the industry's diversity reckoning at 19:25
  • And all about her new Miami home at 31:13
Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Links & Articles

LuxDeco 100

Q&A with Natalia Miyar

Natalia's Art-filled London Project Tour

Natalia’s Think Big, Shop Small edit

Interior Design Trends for 2017: Colour, Texture & Graphic Patterns

Designer Inspirations: Natalia Miyar’s Holiday House Snug

The Best of Luxury Interiors & Interior Designers in London

Natalia's website

Natalia's Instagram

Natalia's Travel Snaps

The designer shares part of her inspirational travel album, including one shot of her favourite colour palette—green and blue.

Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar | Havana Inspiration | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar | Blue Ocean | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

The first time I went to Cuba it was almost a synthesis of both my childhood experiences—the history and the incredible architecture and decorative legacy that Mexico had, which you find in Havana, and then that beautiful ocean green, blue sky landscape of Miami. It sort of melded the two together.

 

Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar | Havana Architecture | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar | Green Inspiration | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Natalia's London Home

Natalia's London home features artwork which speaks to a personal connection, unique one-off pieces and a relaxed atmosphere.

Combining

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Combining Cultures Through Design | Eclectic dining room | Natalia Miyar's dining room | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

NATALIA'S CULTURE-INSPIRED PROJECTS 

The designer spares no effort in her commitment to individual design through unexpected colour combinations, creative commissions and pattern-mixing in the very best way.

Natalia Miyar bedroom _ Read more in LuxDeco's The Luxurist at luxdeco.com

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

 

Because I've lived in different places and because I do travel so much, I appreciate home possibly more than someone who takes it for granted, so I like to create spaces for my clients that feel like home.

 

Combining Cultures Through Design | Textured bedroom design | Natalia Miyar | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

 

I think if there was ever an industry where diversity can be seen for the beautiful thing that it is, it is in design.

 

Combining Cultures Through Design | Natalia Miyar colourful interiors | Read more in The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Natalia Miyar palette | Read more in LuxDeco's The Luxurist

Image Credit: Natalia Miyar

Culture Podcast with Natalia Miyar | Blending Culture Through Design | The Tastemakers | LuxDeco.com.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Culture Podcast with Natalia Miyar | Blending Culture Through Design | The Tastemakers | LuxDeco.com.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Jon:
Hello and welcome to The Tastemakers: A LuxDeco Podcast. I'm Jon Sharpe—your host and Chief Creative Officer for LuxDeco—the world's leading luxury interiors platform, which is changing the way people design and shop for their homes. Part of our commitment at LuxDeco is to help people live beautifully. In The Tastemakers, we do that by exploring interior design and lifestyle through the stories of our influential guests. Guess who are celebrated for their fine tastes in design and beyond. Subscribe and listen for inspiration straight from some of the world's most incredible style authorities.

Jon:
The projects of London-based interior designer and architect Natalia Miyar cut a somewhat unique figure against the restrained aesthetic of the British interior design scene. Thery're full of pattern and unafraid of colour. The US-born designer's celebrated style blends textured finishes with smart upholstery, pairs vivid artwork with custom-designed statement furniture and contrasts casual luxury with subtle glamour. This penchant for the colorful and irreverent is perhaps most attributable to Natalia's rich multicultural background. The designer boasts routes to three culturally unique locations—a vibrant birthplace, a spirited hometown, and a storied adopted home. Untethered to any one particular style as a result, Natalia mixes the memories and experiences of each to wild abandon in her work, establishing her as one of London's most adventurous talents.

Jon:
I caught up with the House and Garden 100 and LuxDeco 100 designer to discuss her cultural heritage, contextual design and how culture will play into interiors more authentically in the future.

Jon:
Natalia, welcome to the show. How are you?

Natalia:
Jon, I am very well and absolutely delighted to be here with you today.

Jon:
And I hear you're just back from an extended trip; perhaps a more extended trip than you originally anticipated, working on a very exciting personal project. How was that?

Natalia:
Indeed, I— I have spent the last four months—the lockdown—in Miami. I went there in early March to close on a house that I was buying for myself—my first home— Well, my first real home. And, Jon, I got stuck there.

Jon:
There are worse places to be stuck, I would suggest.

Natalia:
You know, it was actually— It was, you know, a very difficult moment globally, but, on a personal level, sort of a stolen season with my family and my nephews and niece and a really special time that we wouldn't have had otherwise. So I can't complain. But I also sort of threw myself head on into a badly planned and organised remodel that turned out rather well. But I just seized the opportunity— seized the moment, if you will, and spent a little bit of time working on my house. So I made use of the four months.

Jon:
So you're from Miami, but let's rewind a bit further, because this episode is obviously all about cross-cultural design. Let's begin with the cultures in your backstory. Tell us about the places you've lived and the path your career has taken to date.

Natalia:
Well, my— I always say that my cultural background is confusing, even to me sometimes, but just to synthesize it: I was born to Cuban parents, Cuban American parents, who had lived in Cuba in the U.S. and they were living in Mexico when I was born. So, from birth, I think I had two passports and the cultural identity of being Cuban. And then when I was almost eight, my family left Mexico and moved to Miami, which is what I consider my hometown in many ways, because that's where, you know, all the people I love are, in terms of family. And I lived in Miami for a long time until I went away to university in New England.

Natalia:
And then I went back to Miami and lived there for a while and then moved to London, where I've been for almost 14 years. So I've lived half of my life outside of the U.S. I guess at some point it might be equal parts of US/UK and then of course, the beginning in Mexico. So it's hard to keep track sometimes.

Jon:
And how does such a diverse cultural background feed into your design narrative?

Natalia:
You know, I think it probably informs that even more than I am willing to give it credit [for], because I think there are two things. I think there's the the the visual influence. And then I think there's a bit of the psychological influence as well and if you'll indulge me on that for a moment— You know, my family on both sides, they left Cuba at the very beginning of the, in short, communist revolution of the 1960s. And so we left— my family left everything. You took of you— You know, you left with a bag, got on a plane if you were lucky and you got to start a new life somewhere else. And so I didn't grow up, Jon, with a grandmother's house to go to or a family house or visiting my parents in the the house that they had grown up in. All of that was gone. It existed only in their memories and in some of the pictures that we had.

Natalia:
And I think if I look back at my career, this interest, this love that I have for a physical space and how it connects you to your personal narrative and to your personal history, [it] probably stems from the fact that those roots didn't exist in my own family. And the different places I have lived in become adopted home hometowns, really, and both as a family when when we were younger, when I was a child, and certainly now as an adult, I really engage those places and really try to get to know them and get to the heart of what— what stylistically they are. And I don't mean style in a fancy way, just as a way of simplifying the meaning of what a physical space embodies.

Jon:
And you talk about that psychological impact. What are some of your earliest memories of living in Mexico, in Miami and, of course, of visiting Cuba that have stuck with you?

Natalia:
Life in Mexico, Jon, was just all colour. I just remember that so vividly. I remember a really beautiful life with these incredible old buildings—a lot of historic buildings. At the time—this was late 70s, early 80s—there was some great pops of colour in the work of the architect Barragán. I remember that as a child, going to see some of his buildings. I remember the the pottery and the textiles. I remember the colour of the landscape. So mine is a very visual memory and Mexico certainly was probably the most formative one. And then when I moved to Miami—when we moved to Miami, that was a completely different landscape. This one was about the ocean and greenery everywhere and sand and blue, these blue skies that just are mesmerizing and pink sunsets. So colour has always been what I identify with the places of my youth. And then I didn't visit Cuba until I was in my 20s and I was in graduate school studying architecture. And I had won a grant to study historic preservation strategies in Havana in a particular neighborhood called El Vedado. And the first time I went to Cuba, it was almost a synthesis of both my childhood experiences—the history and the incredible architecture and decorative legacy that Mexico had, which you find in Havana, and then that beautiful ocean green, blue sky landscape of Miami. It sort of melded the two together. And maybe that's why I felt at home very quickly in Havana and on my subsequent visits, as I've delved a little bit more deeply into into the place, Havana in particular, because I haven't seen much of Cuba—I'd love to. I feel very much at home there.

Jon:
And you've said in the past of your work in the UK and the US, "Working between the two cultures is fun. For me, they perfectly inform each other". What do you see as the kind of key differences there, and how do you combine the two cultures in a way that feels natural and not conflicting?

Natalia:
I think what makes it fun for me is that, you know, there's a level of contrast and each each place has its own set of expectations from clients, the industry, colleagues, etc. The US has an incredible— an incredibly fresh and "there are no rules" approach to design. And I think that's certainly something that I have in my own work. But— and then the UK has, at least in my interpretation, a respect for craft and tradition and that legacy of style and that— that style that grows organically over years and years and years. And so I take the best from both. I take that freedom of expression that I find in working professionally in the US with the love of heritage and craft that I find here in the UK and I think the two work really well together because they inform each other.

Jon:
And how do you think that your multicultural upbringing, combined with your considerable travel aids you in designing for an international clientele. So let's say you have a new international client, perhaps they're from a country you actually haven't experienced yourself before. How do you go about understanding their culture to the level that you need to understand it in order to design their home, which is arguably, of course, one of the most personal commissions a designer can get?

Natalia:
I think there are two things. I think that the first is that I'm always interested in contextual design. So there's an element of understanding the history, the materials, the physical context and the landscape of a place that is naturally of interest to me. So any project that I do would begin with that research component in all of those aspects. But I think the other thing that I understand from my international clients is that because I've lived in different places and because I do travel so much, I appreciate home possibly more than someone who takes it for granted. So I like to create spaces for my clients that feel like home; that, you know— that are nurturing and cocooning and comfortable because, when you have, you know, one foot on a plane or when you you've been in lots of different places, the one place you should be able to go to that that settles you is home. So I think that grounds everything I do, but always with the interest of making it resonate with the individual narrative of my client and the place where that home is.

Jon:
And you mentioned contextual design. Why is contextual design so important in your view, and do you feel that the interior design industry in general is cognisant enough of it?

Natalia:
I think contextual design is important just because it feels natural to me; it feels natural to live in a home, in a warm climate like Cuba or Miami that has great windows and cross ventilation and materials that, you know, keep you cool in the summer. The same way it feels natural for me living in England to be surrounded by pieces of contemporary British craft, because I love that there's a connection to the place. I believe in that connection to place and I think that that makes a building and interior have more soul. I also appreciate that as individuals, either we connect with other cultures or we're inspired by other cultures. And we like to have aspects of that in our homes and in our daily lives because it's inspiring or aspirational or interesting for us. So when I talk about contextual design, I suppose I think that the roots of the design—you know, what grounds it, the key pieces, the architecture, the materials that one uses in the construction and in the interior architecture—should resonate with the place in which they are being put together. But then you can also layer it with things that come from other places. Do I think the interior design industry is— in the UK focused on contextualism? Probably. Probably, yeah. Although sometimes I'm always surprised when I see interiors that look like, you know. They could have— they could be, you know, on a rooftop in Hong Kong or in Russia or something else. Those feel counterintuitive to me.

Jon:
It's almost like the visual equivalent of Esperanto.

Natalia:
Yeah.

Jon:
Like some sort of strange country that doesn't really exist, but is some sort of merge of everything.

Natalia:
I remember going to— what I had thought of as a quintessentially English hotel. And they were very proud of showing me this very glamorous penthouse that was completely, completely Asian in design and it was absolutely stunning, but, you know, when I'm in a hotel, I like to wake up in a room that looks like the place where I am, especially if it's in a hotel because, you know, you're traveling there for— I don't want to be in Positano and come out and think I'm in— You know, somewhere in Sweden.

Jon:
I mean, that's just going to confuse you even more.

Natalia:
Well, that's what I think!

Jon:
Let alone the identity crisis.

Natalia:
Completely. And yeah, so— so I suppose that's what I mean about contextual design. I think it's nice to feel that the space you're in, connects to its location.

Jon:
Hmm. A sense of place.

Natalia:
A sense of place.

Jon:
You're also well known as a champion of local artists and artisans. How do the unique works of these craftspeople tie into your strategy of a more contextual, culture-based approach to interior design?

Natalia:
I think— I like the personal story in each and every piece of my interiors, of my work, and I like getting to know the people who are making it because I think it just gives it more depth. And I think, you know, I've always felt that something that is handmade, that is hand-produced, has the beauty that comes from the sometimes imperceptible flaw of not being machined. There's something in the craft and the putting it together and the seeing the individuality of those pieces that for me is more interesting. And so that's why I like to work with a lot of local craftspeople, because I can see where these pieces are coming from and sometimes, you know, the narrative that they bring, you know, whether or not it's clear to the people who are who are visiting the apartment—they're not going to hear every story of how we made every table or how we made every textile—but I know it's there and I think together they contribute to weaving a better— a better story for an interior.

Jon:
And you're especially supportive of Cuban artists having collected their art for yourself and featured in a number of homes that you've designed. What do you love most about Cuban art, in particular?

Natalia:
Jon, I think it goes back to, you know, that connection that I— it's a personal connection. And I try and— I always like art that has an element of virtuosity in the craft, right? The expression of how it's put together; that's why conceptual art, I sometimes struggle with it a little bit. But it's, you know— it's what I know. Sorry not to not to say that I'm not interested in all types of art and I don't know about other art. Of course, I'm passionate about it. But I like buying these pieces, especially for myself. I'm sitting here speaking to you from my London apartment, and here I have a lot of Cuban artists on the walls. Maybe because I met them, I know them, the colours resonate with me... There's a connection and I'm always looking for that connection, I suppose.

Jon:
So all of this talk about multiculturalism and the championing of small independence's is sounding very aligned with the reckoning that the entire industry is having right now in terms of confronting its lack of diversity. There's a lot of talk right now on Eurocentric design and how it's perhaps unfairly come to be considered the zenith of good interior design. What are your thoughts on that?

Natalia:
Do you know what's interesting about that for me is that I actually look at a lot of European design and where I find it most interesting is when they've looked at other cultures and been inspired by those cultures. You know, I remember in Mexico growing up, there were these incredible Baroque churches that were made by Mexican artisans who put the faces of their peers—carved them into the sculpture—and all of a sudden it's a completely different aesthetic. It may— it may originate in Europe, but then it's been interpreted in a different way in Mexico. The same thing with, you know, Chinoiserie, which we love in European design. And, of course, you know, it wasn't created here. So in terms of diversity, I suppose I would say that the— that the design world has always been quite a diverse one. And I think you can go back to the beginning, almost the beginning of time and when, you know, cultures were melded and merged, usually through something awful, like a war or a conquer. However, design and architecture and craft were always ways that people could connect and be inspired by something that they learned from someone else. So I think if there was ever an industry where diversity can be seen for the beautiful thing that it is, it is in design and in melding the different traditions to create something more unique and more special than it would have been had you had no exposure to someone else doing something differently.

Jon:
So the industry as a whole has perhaps been more successful in imbuing diversity in styles than it has in personnel.

Natalia:
Absolutely.

Jon:
How do you think the industry can can best go about trying to address the latter?

Natalia:
There are— The lack of diversity in the industry, in particular in the UK, because that's where I'm working—you know, that's why I'm speaking to that—is one that, you know, I as an individual, you know, my studio, I've always tried to have it be as diverse as possible. And by the way, I'll be honest, that's more of a subconscious choice, because I've always been much more comfortable in a culturally diverse setting. And that comes from growing up as an expat. But I think I think the biggest challenge that we face to— you know, to expand the diversity in our industry is that especially in luxury residential design, it is quite— it feels inaccessible to a lot of a lot of young people who are interested in design and I think that the way we can make it more accessible is to really start when, you know, start with students who are in school and and connect with them and get them to to see that a career in design can be a very rewarding and a very exciting one. And that, you know, today it's quite easy, Jon, I think through social media, through the internet, there are so many ways and we've seen it now. I don't know how many invitations you get to podcasts and virtual visits. I mean, you see, there is so much you could do from home. So, whereas before I think the lack of diversity was in part due to lack of access, I think that there are many ways that we can mitigate that today and give access to a lot more people and that naturally, hopefully will lead to a more diverse industry.

Natalia:
And you mentioned the make up of your studio, can you describe the impact that working with a more diverse pool of collaborators, artists, brands, craftspeople has had on your interiors?

Natalia:
Diversity for me brings richness, and I think that, you know, one of— one of the things that we should enjoy and promote in diversity is that people who have a different background than us in the past, because of myself as an individual, people who have a different background, they have a different thought process. They have a different stylistic approach. Their— their needs and concerns are different. And by listening to differing approaches to the same design issue, if you will, you can arrive at a more nuanced solution. And so it's very easy— well, I don't know if it's that easy for one person to do everything on their own, but I just— Jon, I just— it's so counterintuitive to me. It's just not that interesting. It's just not that interesting. So I think we should champion diversity in every aspect of the design world, be it from, you know, the clients we have and the places we work and what our teams look like and where we source beautiful things.

Jon:
We obviously live in an epoch when the world is increasingly globalised. Do you think there are any benefits of that globalisation in relation to contextual design, or do you think actually it's just something that encourages a proliferation of Asian style penthouses in London hotels?

Natalia:
Well, funnily enough, I think that's when people will feel that contextual design is more important, right? Because they— you know, wherever you are, you want your home to feel like your home. I think globalisation, you know, from a design perspective is fascinating because I think, number one, it makes all of us more educated and we see more, we know more, tastes are honed, they become more sophisticated. So we as designers have to, you know, up our game, if you will. And that challenge is interesting to me on a personal level. But also, I think, you know, it will keep us growing as an industry and become— And we have to if we want to be relevant, you have to stay fresh. You have to stay looking forward and not repeating the same thing. I mean, I always hate having to use the same piece in another project. I always try and do something different. So for me, globalisation just is natural.

Jon:
You obviously have your own diverse cultural backgrounds from which you can draw on for your designs, but how can interior design and designers honour other cultures without the risk of cultural appropriation?

Natalia:
I think the important thing is to get to know another culture with respect, with interest and with respect and— But also, you know, as I said before, you know, I've seen— I've travelled recently with a group of British designers and we were in Antwerp at a museum, a textile museum, and the enthusiasm that these different colleagues of mine had for different patterns, different weaves, and each one of them was inspired in a different way to create something new and different. I found that a great lesson, that sometimes looking at something for the sake of its beauty is a good enough reason to create something special. So I think, you know, that's two things. Let's not— let's not stop going and travelling and being inspired by incredible objects and coming home and wanting to create something because we were— Yeah, because we were inspired, but if we are interested in delving more deeply to do it with respect and to really get to know a place.

Jon:
So, Natalia, we've heard about your style, now it's time to hear about your home life, which means we've arrived at the section of the show we call How I Live. So let's start with where is home for you?

Natalia:
Well, it's in two places, Jon, so I don't know which one you want to talk about. I have a really wonderful apartment in London where I'm sitting today to speak with you and then I have a very charming home in Miami, as well.

Jon:
Well, let's start with London, because that's where you are right now. Tell us how you describe your home style.

Natalia:
It's individual. It's very unique to me. Every single piece, every object, everything that I'm surrounded by is something that I love, that I've chosen. And it's— The overriding theme is comfort and connection, I suppose. Yeah, with everything. All of the art is personal. I don't have anything in my house just for the sake of having it.

Jon:
What's been your most recent home purchase?

Natalia:
Oh, I'm very excited about a vintage pencil reed written desk I bought for my house in Miami, that was rather fun. I love that. That's— that's been a good one.

Jon:
And when you're at home, which room do you spend most of your time in?

Natalia:
You know, I have to be honest, I make it a point of moving around because I love— I love all the spaces in my home. I try and sit in the dining room to eat or the dining area, and I love reading in my living room. I spend a lot of time in my bedroom. Jon, I have a bedroom where the walls are painted like a squid ink black. They're really wonderful and it's— it feels quite masculine, but then it has these touches of of femininity in the art selections and I love being in there.

Jon:
And so what's your favorite way to relax when you're at home? Is that just lying on the bed with squid ink walls?

Natalia:
Mm hmm. That is part of it. But I love having— I love entertaining and I love having my family and my friends over in a very casual way, but with a very good cocktail. That's how I like to relax at home, keep it casual, but with a touch of glamour.

Jon:
And tell us about your other home. How would you describe the home style there?

Natalia:
Well, in Miami, I— I spent a lot of time looking at different properties. And, you know, Miami is quite a new town. And a lot of the buildings that you got in some of these apartments are quite soulless and they have low ceilings and they're really rather terrible. And so I found a historic home from 1925, which means nothing in London, but means ancient in Miami. And it's— it's a really, really wonderful sort of asymmetrical, slightly rambly house that I'm having a lot of fun putting together. And I almost feel like a lot of the pieces that I've been buying over time, some of the art, some of the objects are just naturally going to fit there very well. And for my Miami house, I've decided, just because it feels so natural that the overriding colour scheme is blue and green, which is my favorite colour scheme. So lots of different shades of blues and greens and a lot of texture. It's been a lot of fun. It's been a lot of fun to do.

Jon:
And now on to the section we call Who, What, Where and Why—some deeper questions, which we hope will reveal a little bit more about you. So first, who is your style inspiration?

Natalia:
I've always thought that Oscar de la Renta was just the most stylish person from—.

Jon:
That was also possibly the most stylish pronunciation I have heard.

Natalia:
I always think it's funny when people pronounce— you know, they know how to pronounce the name, you know, a Spanish name properly and then they Anglicise it. But anyway, you know, he just embodied style to me. I remember seeing him once. I saw him a couple of times and I saw him once in an airport and he just looked so dashing. But everything that I— that I saw from his homes and how he entertained and his— just really done effortlessly. And I think that's great style.

Jon:
And what is the most defining characteristic of your style?

Natalia:
I think my style is— You know, I think it's— At its core, it's very much about textural contrast, and I think that's what I love most. Things that feel very tactile and that are interesting visually and for all of the senses—visually, touch, you know, all of the above. And then I also think that it's glamorous, but in a very comfortable way and an easy way to live. So I've always said that there's a duality to my personality. I love glamour, but that I'm very casual, so I think my interiors reflect that.

Jon:
Where were you the last time you were inspired with a great idea?

Natalia:
Walking, in the park. Any time I'm in nature, I'm inspired. I mean, I'm a creative person, so I think all the time and and I don't find it hard to to come up with ideas because I love, love, love what I do. But nature is always very inspiring for me.

Natalia:
And why is living beautifully important to you?

Natalia:
Because we do it every day, you know, this is— We've got one life and each day needs to be celebrated and I think part of living beautifully is just enjoying the— enjoying that we're here and being grateful that we're here and surrounding ourselves with objects and pieces that enhance our daily life.

Jon:
And last, but by no means least, A Question of Taste—our quickfire round, where we ask you ten questions about taste. At what age did you have the worst taste?

Natalia:
I had the worst taste, probably around 12 or 13 when I got really excited about Victorian style and thought that was cool.

Natalia:
[Laughs] How did this passion for Victoriana manifest in either your environment or your wardrobe?

Natalia:
I know so strange because I was a young girl in Miami. I think we'd come to London and I got really excited about Victorian history and thought— I think I bought a parasol and things like that, Jon. It was really, really quite dreadful.

Jon:
Queen Natalia of Miami.

Natalia:
Something like that. I didn't wear any of it, but I think it informed some of the choices in my bedroom. So, yeah, let's— let's say that was the worst.

Jon:
At what age will you have the best taste?

Natalia:
Oh, my goodness. Probably in 10 years and then in 10 years I'll say 10 years after that. I think it's always evolving and hopefully getting better.

Jon:
What's the most tasteful object in your home?

I think, Jon, my— my pink, it's like a dust off pink velvet— silk velvet sofa. It's just so chic.

Jon:
And what's the most tasteless object in your home?

Natalia:
Technology, I mean, I really— I think— I'm looking around. A necessary evil. Some of them are stylish, but yeah, probably my Peloton. It's not very tasteful, but it's— I've put it where I have to use it so...

Natalia:
I think a Peloton is it's definitely luxury on one level, perhaps just the subscription, but definitely luxury.

Natalia:
No, it's a huge— it's a huge indulgence, Jonn, but, you know, I never understand why people put their gyms in like the worst space, because, you know, if you have to work out— And I don't naturally love working out, I like being outdoors, but I don't love working out. I always say, make your exercise room a place you really want to be so that you go there.

Jon:
What is the most tasteless thing you've ever worn?

Natalia:
This one's embarrassing. When I was graduating from Brown in the late 90s, I took to wearing overalls, like denim overalls. I was doing a lot of gardening and I remember meeting my father for a terribly smart lunch in New York and turning up in that and he was not amused, nor should he have been.

Jon:
I mean, it sounds very sort of like a New York hipster chic.

Natalia:
It— The way I did it was not chic. [Laughs]

Jon:
Just more gardening.

Natalia:
It was more gardening, so no that— that's probably the most tasteless thing I've ever worn.

Natalia:
And as you've beautifully segued to the subject of food, what's the worst thing you've ever tasted?

Natalia:
Oh, tripe sausage. I was travelling, driving through France and we— we were famished and only found one place that served the specialty, I don't remember. And as we— it was a sausage and as we bit in— cut into it with such excitement and took a bite, it was tripe. And the only person who ate that was my little dog, Max. Maxie, who ate all of everybody's sausage. That was really not great.

Jon:
Maxie took one for the team.

Natalia:
He was happy to take one for the team.

Jon:
Which restaurant serves the best tasting food?

Natalia:
Oh, God, there are so many, Jon, because now you've hit on my weakness. I mean, my favourite activity is to go to restaurants and eat out. And there are so many ones. I was recently in a wonderful restaurant in New York called Veronika that I thought was fantastic. Everything was delicious that I had there. But I also love, you know, home cooking in Miami at a Cuban restaurant so— And in London, I mean, don't get me started...

Jon:
Which interior designer has the best taste?

Natalia:
Well, this is always an interesting question, and it does— it does beg the question is it— is it of all time? Is it— If it had to be—.

Natalia:
I mean, we could break it into dead or alive.

Natalia:
So my— my— the most the most tasteful interior designer dead, I would have to say was Jean-Michel Frank. I think, you know, just— just effortless style again. And alive I really have to say I think Peter Marino is just absolutely at the top of his game. Beautiful, beautiful work. But there are so many others—it's so hard because I'm so inspired by so many people.

Jon:
There's going to be loads of people going, "I can't believe she said, Peter, not me!"

Natalia:
I know— it's difficult, but you know what— You know what I love—

Jon:
I think that's a good and fair choice.

Natalia:
You know, this is interior architecture is just— I mean, it's just— the combination of materials, the way they're put together, the execution, it's just really sublime. But there are so many people I admire. Certainly— certainly dead and alive.

Jon:
What is the most tasteful historical period of design.

Natalia:
That's interesting that you that you said historical period because I— I would say today! And I don't know that that's— that that addresses your historical period, because I think there were some very good ones. But I love what I'm seeing today because there are so many different, well-executed styles, if you will.

Jon:
Is that because it's a synthesis of so many things passed and so many periods or because something new is happening?

Natalia:
I think something new is happening. I think something new is happening, and I think people are still— It is very difficult to identify, but I just— I just— I think people have thrown out a lot of rulebooks that at the same time look to the best of the past and have been inspired by that. So I look around today and see so much beautiful work being done and I love the innovation of new— new ways of composing things.

Jon:
And what's the least tasteful historical period of design?

Natalia:
Ugh! The decade I grew up, the 1980s, was the absolute worst. And I grew up in Miami in the 1980s, Jon, so...

Jon:
Wow, that's as 80s as it gets!

Natalia:
Glass block walls... Oh, just really, really dreadful. I think it was— I think that's probably the worst for fashion, for design, for... Sorry, but it's true!

Jon:
What's the best taste you've ever acquired. It's clearly not tripe, sausage.

Natalia:
No... What's the best taste I've ever acquired? You know, the thing is, I spent a lot of time— You know, I studied architecture and in architecture school you're— You know, at least the way I was taught, I was really taught to look at things and to study things. So I spent so many years, Jon, just, when I travel, just sitting down in a room and just looking at it and trying to understand what about it made a great. And then one day, I put a room together that was, you know, uniquely my vision, and I said, Wow, that that looks good, that works, and I was being true to my own taste, but it's a taste that's been honed by so many years of study and looking and learning and being inspired by other people. So, I guess there was that moment when I said, OK, I've got an eye and there's something to it, but I know that it's rooted in— in so much.

Jon:
Which country out of all of those you visited has the best taste?

Natalia:
I think France. I really do. I think, you know, there's just great, great style. And I do think in Mexico there's some really great taste as well. It's a wonderful country to visit.

Jon:
What is the number one crime against good taste that people commit in their homes?

Natalia:
Bad lighting. I think it ruins everything, and I don't know if that's a question of taste, but, you know, when things are too harshly lit or anything, I think that's sort of more than— more than taste that's sort of bad, bad design, because you can improve almost anything exponentially by dimming the lights or giving it good lighting.

Jon:
When is bad taste actually good taste?

Natalia:
When it brings you joy. When there's something that you just love so much and it may be really unattractive to someone else or in bad taste, but if you derive joy from it, have fun with it.

Jon:
When is good taste actually bad taste?

Natalia:
When it's artificial or trying too hard. You know, when someone's just said, Oh, you know, this is— I've sort of copied this room or I've done this room because I think it's in good taste and it doesn't express who you are. I think that it's so uninteresting.

Jon:
Who is your taste icon?

Natalia:
Giancarlo Giammetti. What a stylish man.

Jon:
Why does taste matter?

Natalia:
Taste matters to me because it's so instinctive for me, it's just— I'm talking about my personal taste, which I don't believe I need to impose on anybody, but I love— as I said, I love living beautifully and I love, you know, just enjoying every day by— by creating something that enhances my life. And so I think that taste is such a part of that and that's why it matters to me. And I think— I think we've seen, especially in the last few months during this lockdown, how being at home and being, you know, confined to a space— When that space doesn't feel great, when you haven't taken pride in and putting a space together that's beautiful, that resonates with you, when you haven't— when you don't take time to put a beautiful meal together or to put a great group of friends together, I think that, you know, you lose a little something, so I think taste just makes every day a little bit nicer.

Jon:
Natalia, thank you so much. That was fascinating. Where can people find out more about you?

Natalia:
Jon, thank you so much. I've loved talking to you. People can find out about me on my website, which is nataliamiyar.com or on Instagram at @nataliamiyar.

Jon:
Great stuff. Thanks again, Natalia.

Jon:
That wraps up this episode of The Tastemakers. Thanks for listening. If you'd like to be notified of new episodes, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoyed the show, please do rate and review us. You can discover related images, articles and products in our show notes, at LuxDeco.com, where you can also shop over 150 of the world's finest design brands and subscribe to our online magazine, The Luxurist. I've been your host, Jon Sharpe. You can follow me on Instagram @jonsharpe—that's J-O-N-S-H-A-R-P-E—and follow LuxDeco at @LuxDeco. I'll see you next time. Until then, live beautifully.

Automatically convert your audio files to text with Sonix. Sonix is the best online, automated transcription service.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Sonix has the world's best audio transcription platform with features focused on collaboration. Automated transcription is much more accurate if you upload high quality audio. Here's how to capture high quality audio. Create better transcripts with online automated transcription. Sonix converts audio to text in minutes, not hours. Create and share better audio content with Sonix. Quickly and accurately convert your audio to text with Sonix. Rapid advancements in speech-to-text technology has made transcription a whole lot easier. Here are five reasons you should transcribe your podcast with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2020—it's fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your audio to text, try Sonix today.