I’ve always had a deep love for design, fashion and home décor”, muses Maya Al Omar, founder and creative director of interiors label Mishmashi. “In fact, my home has always been my living laboratory – a canvas on which I express my personal style”. And what a style! A brightly coloured, boldly patterned mixture of prints, textures and hues, Maya’s signature approach is fearless, blurring the lines between clashing and coordinating.
More is certainly more for UAE-based interiors brand Mishmashi, whose founder champions cheerful design and responsible sourcing to create her quirky wares.
In 2012, during what she describes as a “turning point” in her career, Maya set about transforming her passion into a business, establishing Mishmashi in a tiny warehouse in the depths of Al Quoz. ‘This Must Be The Place’ now hangs above the doorway. As well as customising one-off pieces of furniture, she designs intensely pigmented scatter cushions, neon-bright wall decorations, sparkly, jangly lighting and ornate mirrors that all embody her ethos, ‘What You Love is Beautiful’. “I believe there are no rules or limits to define beautiful design”, she explains, matter of factly and that is absolutely clear in both what she makes and how she presents herself. For our Bazaar Interiors shoot, she has accessorised her magenta manicure with pristine Stan Smiths, elaborate lace jacket and oversized gold hoops which makes her look part design doyenne part ghetto-Queen. Beyoncé, all grown up, is here in the desert.
Since 2012, Maya has gone on to become one of the UAE’s ‘ones to watch’ and this year saw her taking part in Dubai Design Week for the very first time. “I was thrilled to be invited to take part in Dubai Design Week!” she trills, enthusiasm barely concealed. “Dubai’s art scene is beautifully evolving as a whole, and it means so much to me to be a part of it”, she continues. Her latest collection of ‘poofs’ formed part of her centrepiece, with a fuchsia pink feathered variety stealing the show.
Of Syrian origin, but raised in Paris and New York before moving to Dubai 17 years ago, Maya has an identity that is as multi-layered as her designs. It has, without a doubt, shaped her approach to design and inspired her to create a brand that she feels perfectly embodies Dubai. “It makes particular sense to me that Mishmashi was born in Dubai, a city of many threads”, she reveals. “A large part of my philosophy and aesthetic has to do with my biography and being raised multi-culturally gave me early exposure to the amazing ways that classical design and modern functionality cross, a contrast that is constantly reflected in my work”. As part of her embracing of modernity, she is now a regular on Instagram (with a little help from her daughter, Danya, 24) inviting her loyal followers to explore ‘the Mishmashi life’ while also being able to browse and buy its products. She also offers an interior styling service and writes a blog on how to incorporate ‘Mishmashism’ into the home or work space.
As to how she goes about the design process, it seems that Maya favours a colourful, intuitive approach – naturally. “My designs come from my imagination but also spring from a conscious awareness and research of current trends in fashion and interiors”, she explains. “I draw inspiration from my surroundings, but often it’s really whatever catches my eye”. Other than satisfying her own aesthetic, each of her designs needs to comply with the Slow Design Movement, which she studiously abides by. “Our desire to prevent waste has inspired all our creations. This means that we don’t mass produce and each piece will always be unique”, she adds. Soul and heart – Mishmashi is a brand with a bright future.