Designing with NatureSince founding her multi-disciplinary, multi-national design studio in Cape Town in 1990, Melanie Molenaar has lent her distinct touch to private homes and flats, spas and medical facilities, boutique hotels, restaurants and wine cellars and beyond. For 30 years, long before the idea that the spaces we live, work and play in have a major influence on our lives took root, Molenaar has focused on projects’ inherent energy and how to maximise it. Square Foots talks with interior designer, creative director and founder Molenaar.

Tell us a bit about you and your business. Did you study design or did you come from another industry?
I was fortunate to be accepted into and attend one of the world’s top art schools, although I did not study interior design formally. It was only after I left art school that I realised and developed my love and passion for interiors, growing it into an exciting career and business. We now work internationally, which is also a bonus, as I love to travel.

Do you design with an eye towards sustainability and eco-friendliness?
Yes, as an interior design company specialising in medical, dental, spa and wellness projects as well as residential we are always conscious of which materials, fabrics, paints and finishes incorporate these qualities.

How do you incorporate that into your work?
On our projects, wherever possible, we endeavour to use materials that are natural. Natural products have “life force,” or energy, which gives our projects an almost healing quality. Healing is, after all, the key ingredient in the medical and wellness industry.

Past Projects
Can you tell us about some of your favourite environmentally conscious work you’ve done or that you’ve seen around Hong Kong?
We have done several medical and physiotherapy clinic projects in Hong Kong. Our particular favourite project was a physiotherapy clinic — Peak Performance Physiotherapy. Our clients were wonderful positive people to work with and I do believe this positivity was inhaled in the project and the end result was absolutely positively perfect.

Do you think the green/sustainable design has become standard practice yet?
Is it more affordable and accessible now? Designers are generally becoming more aware of the effects of toxic materials, not only on their clients but also on the environment. I think however this is an on going process, and has not reached full capacity just yet. info Melanie Molenaar (International) Ltd 3/F Cheung Hing House 41 Peel Street Central Hong Kong +852 6904 2199

Wish List
What would you like to see happen, or what do you think needs to be done, in Hong Kong regarding greener interiors over the next few years?
We pride ourselves on delivering innovative, unique, inspiring and uplifting interiors so therefore our wish for 2013 is to set ourselves as the best interior design company in the procurement of medical and wellness interiors, specifically in Hong Kong.