Big deal

Nationally and internationally, they have shone, bringing concepts to life and breathing form into design. From humble and cosy home interiors to bespoke large-scale projects, these ladies have shown grit and grace in displaying exemplary design works. We feature five diverse designers



By Anam Khan

Published: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 4:59 PM

Monica Arango

Founder of C’est ici Interior Design Studio

Born and raised in Colombia, Monica was educated and lived in the UK for seven years prior to arriving in Dubai 12 years ago, where she lives with her husband and their two sons. Arango grew up within an entrepreneur family with her lawyer parents. After a successful career as a lawyer, she dedicated her 30s to reinventing herself and investing in what she truly loves, “The art of creating unique spaces.” C’est ici was founded as a result of an accidental makeover for a staycation spot in Nice, France. After six years, C’est ici has become a local, home-grown business.

Describe yourself, the designer.

Easy, simple and approachable. My Latin trademark is my stamp at all times – fiery but reasonable. I always see the good in the bad and have a positive attitude towards life and interior. I am a family person and my priority will always be my family. My other love belongs to the interior world. Raised and born in Colombia, I was educated and lived in the UK for eight years prior to arriving in Dubai. I am originally a lawyer and reinvented my life for my real passion ‘creating.’ I have bee married for 12 years and have two sons Matheo and Gabriel. This is our 13th anniversary as expats in Dubai. Most importantly, I love to live life to the fullest, both within my personal and work life, to give the best version of me. One step at a time.

What is design for you?

Interior design is creating emotions, activation of our six senses, where the design feels elevated and aspirational with unique unpretentious and inclusive effect that revolves in the art of ‘less is more’. I believe that our surroundings bring us together, and play a crucial role in our daily mood and appreciation of our day-to-day life. From this and our passion for interior design, C’est Ici was born. I believe that simple ideas and thoughtful execution are keys aspects to turn spaces into something special. Our deepest desire is for homes to reflect your DNA and your inspiring origins.

What inspires you?

Life. I feel that inspiration should not be only subjected to social media platforms or technology, but should be inspired from defining moments in your own life. Most of our projects are often related to real aspects of life, lifestyle and creating that unique space that meets both design and functionality. Travelling is one of my main sources of inspirations, between trade fairs in Design Weeks around the world and personal travelling; even a walk in the park can lead to an amazing idea. For me, the key is to differentiate between inspiration and copying. Creative spaces should have an influence but should have also its own identity.

Your masterpiece.

I love all my projects. C’est ici was completed in 2017. From the early days to the most recent ones. It is beautiful to see the evolution, the transitions and everything in between. Every project has a beautiful memory whether with the team or with the clients. Our projects become a masterpiece once we see the joy and moments enjoyed by our clients. If you ask me to pick one, I will choose Casita, the masterpiece that I built to make memories with my family. The tipping point most importantly, was when my son was recently asked what was his most precious memory, and he said ‘’ Moving to our new home’’. For me that is a complete masterpiece.

A designer you can resonate with.

I have a full list of amazing interior designers around the world. I am attracted to that differentiating factor and that unexpected touch. Some of my favorites include of course Althena Calderone, Kelly Wearstler, Axel Vervoordt, Kelly Hoppen, Philippe Starck, David Hicks and so many more. Their designs have moved the industry as an impeccable inspiration.


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