Interview with Designer Eve Mercier

Eve Mercier

Eve Mercier is a busy woman. As an entrepreneur, she runs an interior design school in Chai Wan that emphasises on learning practically. As a designer, she offers students her experiences gleaned from a practical background working in journalism, art history, fashion and interior design, across Europe and Asia.

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Eve Mercier

Eve Mercier

Interior design is a passion Mercier found later in life. Her journey began with a job at the French edition of The Art Newspaper, one of several career moves that she says helped her ultimately as a designer. “To be a journalist means you have to listen to people,” she says, “to get under the skin of a story, and with an interior design client, that’s what you have to do.” She went on to develop a keen eye for beautiful things, a love for history and an understanding of cultural references working at Christie’s auction house; skills that have helped give her design projects layers.

It wasn’t until Mercier arrived in Hong Kong for the first time twenty years ago that she moved into fashion and started her own company which in turn improved her knowledge of fabric, colour and material, she explains, all of which are important elements of interiors. It was after she designed a small tailor-made collection for Shanghai Tang that she made the leap into the world of interior design, working for the renowned London-based interior design firm Candy and Candy, and eventually going on to create a company of her own. When Mercier arrived in Hong Kong for the second time, she moulded her career again after discovering a gap in the market for interior designers. This inspired her to fuse all the skills she had learned and start Insight School of Interior Design.

Insight Design

Insight Interiors school

Trend-wise in interiors she is seeing a distinct lean towards eco-friendly, sustainable materials and design. Property developers are wondering how they can set themselves apart she says, “how do you make your tower better than their tower basically”. Beyond the look and feel of the space, people want to know what materials are being used, especially in China she explains, “they want to know if there is formaldehyde in your mattress!”

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Mercier also says there’s a move away from a ‘total look’, that people want their spaces to be a little more eclectic to reflect their personality. In fashion terms, she says, “no one wants to be head to toe in Coco Chanel.” It follows then that she admires designers who think outside-of-the-box and whose designs tell a story. For Mercier, Hong Kong-based designer Joyce Wang is one of those people. Others on her inspiration radar include work by Studio KO on the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Morocco and the ‘whale skeleton’ interior of Hermes’ third store in Paris inspired by the fact that it was built in an ex-swimming pool.

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When it comes to teaching inspiration, Insight Design’s students are put on a “magazine detox” for the first part of their course. For Mercier, keeping ideas fresh can be as simple as using your eyes and ears. Inspiration can be found in the obscure; supermarket packaging, new shoes or a leaf on the pavement and definitely from travel. She appreciates the strong sense of aesthetic in Japan and their tradition of ‘wabi-sabi’ (the art of imperfection), the beauty and colour in Italy and the balance between symmetry and savoir faire in France.

Insight Desgin

Insight Design

Insight Design

She acknowledges that she was likely influenced, design-wise, unwittingly from the start, having spent her youth cycling through the 18th century town of Versailles. Seeds of influence also began at home with her father’s enduring love of architecture, beauty and attention to detail. “Some people call me a perfectionist,” she says through a knowing smile and she seems ok with that. Above all, she says the people who continue to influence her are not necessarily in her industry but those who are not afraid to take risks because “you can’t be afraid to fail, you will fail and you will break things, otherwise you won’t create anything new”.

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