Interior Designer Bea Pernia On Succeeding During Times Of Challenge

Bea Pernia’s most exciting design project, Japanese restaurant Hiyakawa, was set to open last … [+] month, but due to coronavirus, has been delayed indefinitely.LAMphotos

It was only a month ago, before coronavirus shut it down, that Miami-based interior designer Bea Pernia’s most exciting commercial design of her career was set to open. A minimalist-yet-bold, mystical-yet-approachable Japanese restaurant by famed chef Shuji Hiyakawa and owned by gallerist Alvaro Perez Miranda called Hiyakawa, Pernia designed the space from tip to toe. From the tables to the walls, Pernia created an atmosphere of clean and organic shapes layered upon thoughtful details. 

The restaurant’s interpretation of perfection is a reflection of the sum of its very imperfect parts, intentional on the part of Pernia. She created the space mixing unique elements, like cement and wheat, to form unexpected textures as a subtle reminder to embrace flaws. It’s an analogy for life the designer hid in her work, a reminder that imperfection lives at the core of everything, and flaws, when embraced, eventually build up to something great. It’s a lesson which the designer is learning and re-learning as this pandemic has put her, and the world’s, work and livelihoods on hold her work and livelihood.

Pernia, a native of Venezuela, lost her parents at age 6, an event which taught her indispensable lessons about embracing flaws, survival and resilience. While her most proud professional accomplishment, along with the impending launch of a collection bearing her name, were abruptly postponed due to coronavirus, she applies the lessons she learned at such a young age to get through the situation. 

Pernia learned resilience and to put her faith in her creativity after losing her parents at age 6.Gabriel Mataraz

“It taught me that we need to love ourselves first and follow our passions to be happy in life, to overcome obstacles and find solutions to every problem,” says the designer. “More importantly, the creativity that blossomed going through that situation might have never been aroused otherwise.”

Like many people in creative fields, her passions were evident from day one. As long as Pernia could remember, she has been implementing design techniques her entire life.

“As a child, my main focus was to create a harmonious environment around me. I would paint, make music and write songs, re-create furniture and, unconsciously, transform empty spaces into functional rooms in order to keep myself busy and focused,” the designer says. 

In college, she studied liberal arts, music and design and it was a job she had during that time at the Design Center of America that she realized her passion for creating custom furniture pieces. As she worked to develop this passion, the requests for her pieces began to flow in. “My friends and family began to ask my advice on their interior design projects because they appreciated my artistic vision, but also my ability to accurately envision their projects in 3D,” she says.

Pernia attributes her ability to bring her clients’ vision to life because of two very important connections: the connection to herself and the connection to her clients. 

Pernia’s work is melding of classic vibes, modern silhouettes, and natural elements that result in … [+] an overall organic feeling to her designs.Bea Pernia Design

“I believe that all my work comes from an intention, that first thought born of my, mind, heart and feelings,” she explains. “I then take this intention and merge it with the information the client shares and place it on a white canvas in my mind. The canvas eventually becomes filled with ideas and clients wants, which is then translated into the material thing.”

This ability to trust her artistic instinct while bringing to life her clients’ desires has meant she has been able to design in varying aesthetics, but always ties everything together with the things that mean the most to her, which are organic, raw and natural elements. 

“The natural world is very sensory, and I love elevating the lifestyle of the people in the spaces I design, getting them close to their senses,” says the designer. “And I like to consider every tiny element to create spaces that reflect a lot of information but still convey a feeling of comfort and calm.”

As a designer whose work can be described as classicism-meets-modernism, Pernia is firmly committed to using the latest technology to create her pieces and believes these new methodologies are the future of design. 

The slats of wood used to create the wave-like ceiling of Hiyakawa were precision cut using laser technology, which is at the same both time and cost saving, and allowed her to achieve a look of perfection. She is also experimenting in creating pieces for her own line of pieces using 3D technology, which started with a wood bench called the Circle of Trust.

A believer in technology as the way forward in design, Pernia’s created this 3D printed bench in … [+] wood called Circle of Trust.Bea Pernia Interiors

The current situation in the world is forcing her to re-assess what should matter to her, and her clients are also assessing what design means to them. “During this moment that everyone is on lockdown in their homes people are getting to know themselves, and what I believe will disappear from design as a result are the mass produced pieces that are so popular,” she explains. “Instead, we will focus on the unique value of single pieces. Quality over quantity.”

Her work is laced with a sprit of giving, both literally and figuratively. The spaces are designed to give back to the user by invoking feelings and eliciting emotions, whether it’s the feeling of relaxation in a private home or a feeling of being transported in a commercial space. She practices this spirit of giving in the material world as well by giving back. During the hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2018 and 2019, Pernia was on the front lines helping to rebuild over 300 houses that were lost to the natural disasters. 

She empathizes with people going through difficult situations right now due to the current state of the world. She understands how people, especially small business owners like herself, may feel trapped and sad right now, the same as she did when she was age six. 

To those whose businesses are on pause, she has this advice: “Instead of focusing on the negative see this as an opportunity to join this digital era in which you don’t have limits. I see this as an immense growth opportunity for every small business in which they could reach new national and international markets.There is a huge lesson here to develop imagination, and to look for new opportunities for creation to share with the entire world.”

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