Eastern Interior Design and Architecture

On my way back from Australia to the UK, I flew via Abu Dhabi with Etihad airlines. As a designer, I am always obsessed with the interiors of planes, boats, hotels, airports and embarrassingly, even the backdrops of movies that I’m supposed to be watching.

On the plane, while everyone around me stared with suspicious eyes, I watched every recent Hindu, Arabic and Chinese movies that I could, so that I could get as much information about the interiors of these cultures as possible.

I understand that what I see in movies is quite shallow, but having worked on hotel designs, conference centres and airports for projects in Croatia, Egypt, Oman and Abu Dhabi and having never actually set foot in any of those countries (besides in transit), I am still totally obsessed with the interiors of cultures around the world and can’t keep my eyes off them.

One thing I noticed, is that many modern and contemporary interiors from China, Japan, India and the Middle East seem to still reflect Western trends. I am not sure why I expected to see more culturally significant and traditional decorations in the homes I saw, but I was definitely surprised to see the modern, luxury, toned down to an elegant and refined design that exuded cool in a sophisticated way.


This lead me on a path to research Eastern contemporary architecture and interiors and what did I find? Weaved in between the modern looking interiors are many elegant and beautiful cultural additions.

For example, in Islamic domestic designs, I found that the zoning and layout of spaces is very important, as is the use of Arabesque art and structural arches and domes. The privacy aspect of this culture is so beautifully reflected in their homes and I have to admit, the best interior mood lighting design that I have seen around the world!  Just imagine patterned screens within arches, backlit with strip lighting to provide an even glow… amazing.
In Chinese contemporary design, space is quite the commodity and so innovation with built-in furniture becomes quite prevalent, as is Feng Shui, which also pushes to clear clutter, position furniture in particular ways, add living plants and decorate with the five elements. This creates beautiful, open spaces, usually very well organized with little clutter and the most gorgeous use of timber that I have ever seen.

In India, architecturally, the courtyard style home is still quite prevalent, not only because it is a traditional layout but because it is climatically functional and creates spaces which are totally in tune with nature. These contemporary interiors are light and bright and to me, totally inspiring as architecturally intelligent machines.

I am totally obsessed with Eastern architecture and design! I need more and more and more and this trip has lit a new spark in my fervour for design. I hope I have lit that spark of interest in you too.  Lets see where this goes!