Fusion Design Dialogues

Words by: Tanya Singh


Vermillion and the Insight School of Interior Design discuss the place of fusion in the world of interior design.


Fusion Design_1


From mentaiko fries to cheongsam dresses, the word "fusion" seems to always be just around the corner in the world today. With technology came the ease of communication, and with that the exchange of cultural knowledge. Chefs, artists, and designers from across the globe have leveraged the power of fusing cultures for years. We sat down with Eve Mercier, the Founder of the Insight School of Interior Design, Hong Kong, to explore what fusion translates to in the interior design industry. Can we still locate it? And if so, what does it look like and how is it achieved successfully? 


Fusion Design_2Eve Mercier, Founder of the Insight School of Interior Design


"Fusion in the interior design industry has always existed," says Eve. "There have been design movements in the east that were rooted in Asian elements, and vice versa. We have also seen dialogues between different styles coming from the same region. The lines have become even blurrier today where designers are actively fusing cultural elements with contemporary language. This cultural dialogue that has been a norm in the industry for years makes blending elements from different styles much easier." The Japandi design movement, for instance, combines Scandinavian functionality with Japanese minimalism. 


Fusion Design_3A glimpse into the work of Alan Chan (Zen Garden Carpet and Silkroad Collection), known for his "oriental passion, western harmony" aesthetic, at the International Design Furniture Fair in Hong Kong in 2017.


According to Eve, there are two strains to Asian interior design – the minimalistic, zen-influenced style and the more extravagant, chinoiserie inspired style. The two schools are very different from each other in terms of the overall look as well as the design principles that govern them. "For a long time, the West only looked at Eastern design from the lens of the chinoiserie style, which became quite popular due to trade in the 18th and 19th century. That is a style that continues to be popular even today and is, in fact, enjoying a revival currently. On the other end, minimalist interiors, which are quiet and built around a 'void', have also found their place on a global level. This trend grew in popularity due to cultural shifts in societies across the globe. Minimal interiors allow people to create a space that takes them away from the fast-moving city life," she added. 


Fusion Design_4The Harmony Chair perfectly combines the form of the traditional Chinese Ming chairs with the comfort of Western upholstery sofas.


When it comes to achieving a balance between different styles, it seems that the minimalistic strain of design is easier to integrate. One of the principles of minimalism is ensuring a flow through the space that makes sense, and that is something that has become more important to designers today. The common materials used in minimal spaces are also subtle enough to be used in collaboration with others. "When designing a space, the number of materials used should always be limited. Too many shiny surfaces or a collage of several different materials can be very distracting. This is why minimalism, where wood is a main material, blends very well with other styles," shared Eve. 


Fusion Design_5A splash of color, texture, or an illustrative wallpaper added to a minimal space can do wonders for it.


Creating unity in a space is the most important aspect of interior design according to Eve – whether with materials or colors. Wood is a material that roots us and is a great equalizer in a space, but too many types of wood can create chaos. Similarly, using colors of the same family or in different tones works well, but a spectrum of bright colors can disrupt a space. Another important element in interior design is ensuring a good flow within spaces, especially when different styles are brought together. 


Fusion Design_6A bathroom designed by Eve's son, Timothee Mercier (studio XM) in Provence. It features lime washed walls and a Hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood bathtub.


"At the end of the day, I believe that spaces should reflect the personality of the person that calls it home. A splash of color, texture, or an illustrative wallpaper added to a minimal space can do wonders for it. It is all about finding the right balance that works for you and ensures that the space you are creating is one where you can get respite. I am a strong advocate of the wabi-sabi (侘寂) concept that implies that imperfection is okay. It is all about finding elements that reflect your style regardless of how you bring them together," she said.


The Insight School of Interior Design Hong Kong has some exciting short courses coming up this month – Renovation Bootcamp and Decorative Bootcamp, starting on 16th May, 2022 and 26th May, 2022 respectively. The Decorative Bootcamp teaches you about the latest design trends and styling your home or office space, while the Renovation Bootcamp gets into the nitty-gritty details of actually bringing your dream space to life.