A love of film inspired Yasemin Richie to launch a unique project that turns a film's colour palette into abstract art. Her own home on the Palm, Jumeirah, takes an eclectic approach to design that embodies her life and work. Selina Denman takes a look around
"It's not quite finished yet," says Yasemin Richie as she shows us around her two-bedroom apartment on The Palm. She's going to paint all the walls, she says, the artwork in the bedroom is coming down, the chair over there is going to be reupholstered, and she's toying with the idea of putting some leopard print wallpaper up over here.
One gets the impression that no home of Richie's will ever be quite finished. She talks of the time when her husband came back from work one day to find that she had repainted their bathroom a bright red. She is always experimenting with new ideas, which means that her home will forever be a work in progress.
Won over by a huge balcony and stunning views over The Palm, Richie moved into her new apartment in the Marina Residences, with her husband and two dogs, in December. Although her old place was in the same complex and had the same floor plan as her new one, she treated the move as a perfect excuse to redecorate. Six months on and she's tinkering again.
In its current guise, the two-bedroom apartment is an all-out testament to Richie's eclectic sensibilities. A cowhide punchbag, which you see almost as soon as you walk through the door, is the first hint that this may not be your average interior. Next up, there's an oversized David Bowie poster scowling down at you from the entrance to the home office. "I think an interior should be very personal but not too serious," Richie shrugs. "I like it to be a bit funny. The biggest compliment for me is when people say my home is really interesting."
Richie, who moved from the UK to Dubai five years ago, is a qualified interior designer with a background in TV. Two years ago, she came up with a novel way to combine these two passions when she developed Storylines by Yasemin Richie, abstract works of art that capture a given film's visual identity in the form of striking linear compositions. "We do this by extracting all the frames out of a film. In the average feature length film there's an average of between 150,000 to 200,000 frames. We then take each one of the images individually, compressing and stretching them out. For the retail collection, we average out the colours and then lay them all back out in the order of the film, from beginning to end, so it's basically the colour palette of the whole film.
"People ask how I came up with the concept and it literally just came from watching films and noticing the colours. Other people focus on the storyline, I notice the colours. And it took about two years to develop a way of getting the colour palette onto this abstract. We had to get someone to build software to do it. Now we have the software we can basically do it with anything, including wedding videos and home videos. It's supposed to be personal - not just about the colours but also about the film itself and what that film means to you."
While the Storylines concept was initially confined to works of art, Richie has recently started applying it to interior products, such as wallpaper and upholstery, with plans to move into home textiles, cushions, gift items, stationery and even men's fashion accessories. So when she moved into her new apartment, Richie decided to use the Storylines as the basis of her new interior, "partly to do it myself and partly to show people how they can do it. So if you have a film that you love but you don't want to put the posters up on the wall and you want to do it in a more adult way, you can. And it's all very subtle and implied".
She chose a film, Scarface, and had a vinyl wallpaper made from the film's Storyline. This takes pride of place in the open-plan living and dining room. Richie then drew from this muted colour palette of blues, pinks and purples for the rest of the space. "I wanted to test the wallpaper out myself. It's my favourite thing in this room. I had no idea how it would come out but I love the stripes. It's very smart and not too overwhelming.
"I really wanted to use the Storylines as a basis for the design and not just in terms of the colour palette but also incorporating the stripes and the film element, but in a very subtle way. So there's a lamp in the corner of the room that mimics the kind of lights you would get on a film set. And in the bedroom I'm trying to introduce this Hollywood Regency element."
In the living and dining area, Richie introduced contrasting elements; ornate chandeliers and sumptuous sofas are set against a simple wooden dining table and the sleek acrylic lines of Philippe Starck's Ghost chairs. Furniture was acquired from The One, Bloomingdale's and Kartell. "I love mixing things up. It just makes things really interesting. If you took those curtains and everything else was over-the-top, it would just look really stuffy. But if you take a bit of chrome and an acrylic chair and then add in the ridiculous curtains, it works."
In the bedroom, Richie placed a white stag's head above the bed and propped a chrome ladder against the wall. On the opposite wall, she hung a series of Storylines, including Avatar, The Empire Strikes Back, City of Life and The King's Speech - a copy of which she presented to its star Colin Firth at the Dubai International Film Festival. In a corner of the room sits an oversized vintage armchair, which comes with a story of its own.
"I found the chair in a little town somewhere near Dibba. We'd gone camping and were driving somewhere the next day and I saw it. It was in a disgusting state sitting outside an autoparts store. We pulled over and bought it off them for Dh100. It was a Friday and the whole town came out to see these crazy British people buying this stinky old chair. When I took it apart I realise it had been handmade. I stripped it down to the frame, resprayed it and reupholstered it in a faux suede fabric that has the ScarfaceStoryline printed on to it."
Richie's apartment is filled with such oddities and many of them hint at an element of nostalgia. "There are lots of little bits that are very British. It's not until I moved here that I realised how British my tastes were. When you're at home, it's all very normal." Hence, the bowler hat pendant lamps, the gigantic skeleton key with a crown and, of course, the Bowie tribute.
To ensure that she keeps abreast of changing trends in the design world, Richie has participated in a number of short courses held by the Chelsea College of Art and Design in Dubai, including the Advanced Interior Design, Furniture Design, Lighting Design and Materials for Interior Design courses. "If I was back at home now I would probably be doing the same thing with them to try to continue my professional education, so I was over the moon when I saw them here. When you are working for yourself and doing freelance projects, you need to keep yourself in the loop. I would do some of those courses again because you get the feeling that they would be different every time."
In this way, the courses are much like Richie's home - always changing and ever current.
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