Sol Meets: Danielle Ma of Maer Atelier On The Importance Of Materiality When Designing Spaces

There are many dimensions to consider when designing a home. Colours, shapes, textures, and materials all play a part in creating a cohesive aesthetic within a space, and this is an area where Danielle Ma shines in. The founder and creative director of Maer Atelier understands the intricacies and importance of material selection as “it’s the first thing one notices when entering a space.”

Here, she shares more about her creative process, why Maer Atelier branched into custom furniture creation, and how homeowners can incorporate statement lights into their residences.

How did Maer Atelier come about?

The set up of Maer Atelier was not planned; it happened with the support of clients. We wanted to provide a better service for our clients and a workplace where we could develop our design ideas, present proposals to our clients, and store the materials we need during the design stage.

My background is in hospitality and retail design, which led me to start my design journey with larger scale projects, working on areas ranging from space planning to FF&E (Fixture, Furniture and Equipment). Designs in that realm were less individual-focused, instead prioritising goals such as sales, branding, highlighting the latest FF&E on the market-- most information was fed to us firsthand.

When COVID-19 struck, there was a decline in the number of hotel and retail projects. As many started working from home, the demand for well designed, comfortable homes rose, which led us to take up residential design work. With our experience (both in design and understanding the needs of our clients) and research habits, we've been exploring new design possibilities alongside our clients, designing residential spaces till this day.

What’s a fundamental part of your creative process?

Questioning and research.

It all begins with an idea, and to develop the idea into a physical design, we "We need to conduct research, organise, understand, and finally, give meaning to space"need to conduct research, organise, understand, and finally give meaning to space. Throughout this process, we always throw in questions to ourselves or receive from clients, then we resolve it to achieve the final outcome. "We need to conduct research, organise, understand, and finally, give meaning to space"

Describe your style in three words.

Element, composition, accent.


How important is materiality and texture in your work?

Playing with materials and textures is a big part of our design, as it’s the first thing one notices when entering a space. From floors and wall finishing down to furniture, carpet, and sanitary finish, to the selected artwork finishing, it all plays a part in the overall aesthetic.

Just look at anything you have in hand right now—the decision to own it is due to its colour, texture, and material.


What inspired you to delve into custom-made furnishings?

We started custom-made furniture due to the limitations of the market when we bought a nice pendant light and couldn’t find the perfect match of furniture for it. So we decided to make what we had in mind instead.

Which are your favourite lighting products and why?

I like to see lights without an emphasis on the lighting fixture. The purpose of general lighting is to brighten up a space or create a certain mood. Trimless lighting products like the Isa V3 Trimless that are less visible are my favourites for general lighting.


What are some ways homeowners can incorporate statement pieces and lights into their homes?

It's always good to give your statement piece a place to shine on its own, while the rest of the areas need to be slightly darker. We can use lighting to create different scenarios by planning ahead, like having a statement light that is complemented with softer lights like floor lamps or decorative lights.

What inspires your creativity? How has architecture influenced your designs?

Designers should be omnivores, we need to know somethin"Designers should be omnivores, we need to know something about everything"g about everything, and to have enough information, and knowledge and have seen different designs plus experience as much space as we can to know how it feels to be in it.   "Designers should be omnivores, we need to know something about everything"

The development of architecture influenced me the most. From Baroque to modernism, to post-modern and contemporary, to today’s green architecture. These new building styles are always stepping out of their comfort zone and calling it an experimental design.


One celebrity/personality you’d love to design their house for.

We’d love to work on an art collector’s house, studying their collection of artwork and finding the right places for them. It’ll be a very interesting journey for us to explore.