Interior designer Melissa Charlier: The minimalist style enhances experiences in interior living spaces

Belgian interior designer Melissa Charlier has been based in Dubai since 2015; It is known for the “minimalist” style that characterizes its residential projects, and for weaving tranquil environments in the bustling emirate of Dubai. Charlier takes a close look at the transformations in the United Arab Emirates; The country has moved from a workplace where people come to earn a living, to a stable where expats consider it their “home”, which is reflected in the landscape of interior design and renovation of apartments and houses. And she feels privileged to contribute to this change, in the field of interior design. In the following dialogue, the engineer talks to “Madam” about her education, the years at university, the method she follows in her work, and the challenges…

Belgian interior designer Melissa Charlier (Photo: Mia Photography)

She has an undergraduate degree in design from Thomas More University of Applied Sciences; What remains of your undergraduate years in Dubai?

I have always been interested in design and architecture, in my younger years, so when I decided to get a university degree in interior design and furniture design, I embarked on a creative journey that helped me on many levels, because education was not only related to interior decoration, but also including theater decoration design, furniture development and textile design…All this gave me a strong creative and technical base, the base that enables me to do what I do today. My design role has me constantly learning and researching the latest trends, styles, new materials and developments.

Luxury kitchens

What paths did you follow after graduation? And what brought you to Dubai?

During my university years, I did an internship in a company specialized in the design of custom furniture, and I got a job in the company, and I got directly involved in the world of furniture design, specifically high-end kitchens, at the design and production levels. The experience made me prefer to design kitchens, in any project I undertake. Then, as my interest in other business grew, I discovered more options and had a job with the Estée Lauder group. I was a transport consultant, in the group, which gave me the opportunity to learn about different nationalities and the requirements of their homes. Four years after graduating, I founded my own company and embarked on an entrepreneurial path. However, as the years passed, I knew that Belgium would not be a final stop in my career, but it was only when I was offered a job at a company specializing in innovative textile solutions and large textile printing for events and opportunities that I had the right opportunity to leave. At that time I also met the man who became my husband. I learned a lot in the event industry and gained more creative insight and technical knowledge. Then, after my husband and I decided to buy and renovate our apartment in Dubai, I started noticing mistakes in the interior design and realized I was supposed to follow my hunch. So, I founded HI Projects Design Studio in 2021.

Your projects are “minimalist”; What are your thoughts on “minimalist style”, in terms of design?
To answer your question I quote Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (the famous German-American architect) as follows: “Less is more”; I feel that the “minimalist style” of design is about creating calm and clear interiors with simplicity and practicality, and I strive to bring calm environments to the bustling city of Dubai.

minimalist style

Belgian architect Melissa Charlier is known for her minimalist style of design (Photo: Mia Photography)

Do you think “minimalist style” is suitable for Dubai’s expansive interior spaces?

The simplistic style is not specific to the size of the architectural space, but rather leads to the selection of pieces for the latter, logically, and with a specific purpose, and to enhance the living experiences in the interior spaces. Designing the large space according to the style mentioned is a challenge, so is the design of the limited space, it comes down to putting things in the right perspective and finding the best and most practical way to maximize the capacity of the handle space, without exaggeration.

great privilege

Part of a residential project designed by the engineer (Photo: Mia Photography)

In European apartments, both simplicity and functionality are extremely important. What about Dubai apartments?
I can sense the shift in how people define living in the UAE; A country that has moved from a place of business where people come to earn a living, to a stable where expatriates consider it their “home”. In this context, designers across the UAE are transforming the interior design scene by renovating apartments and houses, making them contemporary and well-designed interior spaces. To contribute to this change, in the fast-moving and growing field of interior design in the UAE, is a great privilege.

How do you approach the residential project before starting its design?

The starting point is to listen to the people who will live and experience the space, not the house. Project owners’ input and comments are important for developing a concept that ultimately fits their lifestyle.

right balance

Are there sources that influence your work?

She has always been influenced by patterns that focus mainly on natural materials, muted colors, soft textures, timeless furniture, statement pieces and green plants. I do not want to categorize my style because the concept of design evolves based on the requirements and preferences of clients, which I achieve in my designs. It’s about finding the right balance.

The presence of natural green touches is repeated in most of your projects; Do you consider shade plants as project additions or mainstays?
I love adding natural green touches to the interior because it makes the house look like a home. Natural plants bring life, while flowers fill the space with freshness. Shade plants represent the final touch that usually brings all the elements together into a cohesive design unit. So, I would say that shade plants are a mainstay.


“Interior design is the natural manifestation of your soul,” says Coco Chanel. To what extent do you agree with the “icon” of French fashion?

Coco Chanel was absolutely right in what was said in the question; Like her, I feel that interior design should reflect who we are, and our way of life, which is still evolving. So, my profession allows me to give the client a concept with which they can develop, and this is what I try to integrate into the project when I work on new concepts.

in lines…
After Belgian engineer Melissa Charlier worked in various industries, the passion for interior design remained a priority in her life, until in 2021 she founded a “studio” called HI Projects Design Studio. The Studio offers key design concepts, with warm earthy effects, and a minimalist style. In addition to interior decoration, Charlier designs decorative art pieces.

Belgian engineer Melissa Charlier

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