Destiny by Design
International designer Perla Lichi has built her career over more than two decades. Having designed everything from palaces to apartments, Lichi’s expertise and unique style have made her one of the most sought-after interior designers working today.
By Stacey Staum
To renowned interior designer Perla Lichi, her emergence into the world of home decor in 1990 feels preordained. Lichi shares, “Destiny took me to this. I wanted to be a fashion designer way back in my teens, but I entered an interior design competition and won. It kind of chose me. I love every minute of it. I love anything having to do with arts, design and fashion, and I feel that interior design is fashion for the home.”
Through her extensive knowledge of design and art, Lichi has developed a reputation as a truly international designer. With offices in Miami, Dubai and India, Lichi has styled homes for many prestigious clients that include high-profile sports figures, entertainers and even royalty.
Lichi’s understanding of art history has guided her design choices, especially in the international market. Lichi explains, “I’m designing worldwide, so it’s very important to understand proportion and scale, as well as different cultures, tastes and artistic styles. I integrate classic and modern styles from different time periods. Design is a type of art, so I’m always fusing different styles. I call it ‘eclectic fusion.’”
Designing internationally presents challenges that do not faze Lichi, as she has a profound understanding of international styles. Lichi explains that the biggest distinction between international and domestic design projects is that “the type of construction differs. For example, in Dubai and India, the interior walls are all concrete. The type of roof is different and the weather is different. Also, the cultural aspects and needs of families are different. Sometimes families have eight children, so many of them use their homes a lot more. People have five servants so they need servants’ quarters, or they use their formal dining rooms more often. The use of space is different. The home sizes are all very different. But, in the end they all want beautiful rooms, comfort, and elegance, but different functionalities.”
While Lichi has extensive knowledge of international design styles, she offers clients from other parts of the world the American experience, sharing that “the U.S. is always way ahead. I’m doing work in Dubai and South Africa and they always want things from the U.S. That’s part of the reason why I do well there, because I’m from the U.S. They want the comfort, the smart homes and other American features.”
As smart home design has come to the forefront of luxury interior design, Lichi has become an expert in all the latest technological trends, and elaborates, “The one thing we’re using a lot lately are motion detectors, where the lights will go on when you enter the room; iPad integration is also very popular. A very hot thing right now is a mirror in the vanity that has a TV. I call it the ‘magic mirror TV.’ Since TVs are so thin now, you can hide them behind the mirror. We can really hide them anywhere. They could be above a fireplace in a gorgeous family portrait that rolls up and a TV is behind it. We can now take old interior design elements and integrate TVs into them.”
Another stylistic element that defines Lichi’s unique style is her use of bold colors in accent pieces paired with neutral hues. This design choice is both beautiful and practical. Lichi explains, “The reason I do that is I like to keep the majority of my background neutral. It’s a lot easier if you get tired of bold colors to change them. It’s also easier on the eye. It just pops more.”
Lichi is also known for her gorgeous ceiling design work. Lichi calls ceiling embellishment “the icing on the cake,” and continues, saying, “Most of my ceilings are drywall, but usually we can play with crown molding, LED lighting or coffered ceilings. It gives me a chance to include texture or a faux finish. It’s like adding makeup. I think it’s just as important as the walls, and it gives the illusion of more space by bringing the eye up. If you’re in the space and you’re looking at the walls and the floor, the completed ceiling gives the feeling of the room hugging you.”
Lichi has been an outspoken advocate for the use of designers in any interior-decorating project and encourages homeowners to seek out professional guidance when considering a design change. Lichi says, “First, they know proportion and scale, which the trained eye knows based on the knowledge acquired through study. Everybody has their own taste, no question. Everybody has their own style and artsy desires, and there is no right or wrong on taste. But the designer can help you put it together properly. Designers can also help find resources because they know what’s out there and what trends are coming in. They live and breathe design. I don’t think a designer should tell a homeowner what to like, but they can make it happen based on their own understanding and access to resources.”
Lichi’s career has given her the vast knowledge on how to design a wide variety of spaces. Lichi recounts, “As a designer, I have dealt with all the different walks of life, from small apartments to large palaces, from a small budget to a large budget. As a designer, my job is to understand the person living in the space and make their dream a reality. In the end it’s them living in the space and I am the professional.” What Lichi describes as her destiny to become an interior designer has been bolstered by her vision and experience, placing her among the most recognized designers in the industry.