Instagram: @_studioima_ & @bettinakg
Photographer: Ana Georgina Ampudia
Editing & Composition: Nabilah Tarin Hasseff @nabitarin , Mariana Hernández Ampudia @marianahampudia
Book or Movie: Tokyo Blues - Murakami
Yoga or Running: Running
Digital or Print: Print
Croissant or Churros: Croissant
Mezcal or Sake: Mezcal
Photographer: Genevieve Lutkin (Interiors)
Dessert: Apple Crumble – The Ivy LA
Broadway Play: The Lion King
Character: Mia Wallace – Pulp Fiction
Quote: "I have been to Hell and back, and let me tell you it was wonderful.” - Louis Bourgeois
IG Account: @visualpleasuremag
Modern Artist: Rothko
Script: The Godfather of Francis Ford Coppola
Restaurant: Maximo Bistrot
Favorite Dish: Pasta
Piece from Home: Ceramics
Editor: Rosa Park – Cereal Magazine
Documentary: Pina – Wim Wenders
Studio IMA is the culmination of experiences that led to the creation of a space like no other in Mexico City. Created by Bettina Kiehnle, it’s a project that encompasses a gallery, a showroom and a cultural space where the space, the people, and the pieces interact and converse with each other, being part of the essence and atmosphere of IMA.
Walk us through your professional journey so far. When did the ‘aha’ moment to start your business occur?
In order to talk about my professional journey, I need to start from the beginning. There wasn’t really an ‘aha’ moment rather than a culmination of life experiences and being exposed to certain things. My passion for art and design began at a very early age; growing up in a family of art lovers my attention was drawn to it. Ever since I can remember, my family took me to museums and galleries of all sorts, considering myself fortunate to travel and discover many places. I even accompanied my mom to buy art, decorations and furniture for the house so it all adds up, I believe.
The first project I remember working on was during high school, when I decided to redecorate my bedroom as all teens do at that age. I constantly redecorated my bedroom, buying things here and there, getting inspiration from magazines, books, shops, galleries, you name it! By that point my path was set, I was so interested in architecture and design that I applied to study Architecture at IBERO University in Mexico City. Everything was ready, I got accepted and just a month before starting classes, I decided to change careers —I don’t know why!— and instead study Communications. I even did my Master’s in Communications as well.
While doing my Master’s in London and L.A., I started developing the concept of IMA; Communications just wasn’t cutting it for me. This was over 4 years ago, where, while studying for my Master's Degree, I dedicated myself to visiting millions of shops, showrooms, vintage markets, galleries, art and design fairs and museums; also buying magazines and books on design, architecture and art to study more on these topics on my own. I spent hours on Instagram looking at accounts of designers, brands and architects and kept saving photos of the things I liked. Wherever I went or travelled I looked for the best designer stores, visited and analyzed them. I love a good research party! And that's how the IMA inspiration started. While living in the US, I came across concepts like The Line and The Future Perfect and fell in love with them. I think these two were my biggest inspiration and push to start Studio IMA.
“A hybrid between a gallery, a showroom and a cultural space; where the space, the people, and the pieces interact and converse with each other.”
Throughout the years the Studio IMA concept continued to evolve till it reached a personality I actually liked. It was simple, I wanted to create a completely different place from all those that can already be found in Mexico, I wanted to create an experience. The idea of Studio IMA was to make a more human and intimate space to see and buy both design and art. A hybrid between a gallery, a showroom and a cultural space where the space, the people, and the pieces interact and converse with each other, being part of the essence and atmosphere of IMA. I wanted to create a place where our visitors could have a unique experience and feel as comfortable as they would in their own home while exploring the space.
So, in summary, after graduating from my Master's Degree, I moved back to Mexico and rented an apartment. A few months passed and by August 2018 my home had literally become Studio IMA. One of the reasons for the name itself ‘IMA’ is that it stands for “In My Apartment”. I chose to open Studio IMA in Mexico City because it was a city I knew by heart, a city booming with culture and history, and a city that needed this new space.
As an interior designer, what inspires you?
My inspiration comes from my own experience with design; I am drawn to the personality of a piece and believe that each of them actually has a soul. You either connect with it or not, on a deeper level than just aesthetics. So that is what I try to convey and reflect through my work and the gallery. The essence and personality should be reflected just like any brand goes beyond the obvious and connects emotionally. Making a space truly unique to each individual!
Tell us about your creative process.
I don’t really have one! I think I live in a never-ending creative cycle, constantly looking for inspiration everywhere. I take a lot of pictures (you should see my camera roll) and make a lot of mood-boards, Pinterest boards, files with inspiration, you name it. But I do have to say that organization is key. Especially with the amount of research that goes into what you could call “creative process” but I call “day-to-day life”, I like to keep my things organized, divided and perfectly stored so I don’t miss anything. There is nothing worse than a lost picture or file that you can’t find but have in your mind.
An icon that inspires you (fashion, art, health, fitness or lifestyle).
Axel Vervoordt - Designer
The next place, museum or concert you will stop by?
This one goes hand in hand with my last one, I just can’t wait to go back to the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Antwerp.
3 styles you feel inspired by?
What inspires you about Mexico?
Mexico City is filled with inspiration anywhere you look. It can be a very chaotic and fast-paced place, there is always something happening in any corner of the city —similar to New York in that way—. I like the chaos of it all, I find it kind of cool. But you can also find the most quiet and calm places in a street in the City Center where you can sort of breathe it all in and smile. Mexico’s history is also extremely inspirational. I am obsessed with our pre-Hispanic past, both its architecture and design. While on the other side, we also have this astounding modernist scene happening that keeps surprising me every day. Finally, we have the art scene in Mexico, wow, it’s just amazing. New artists from all over the world come to Mexico City because of this scene’s growth and global recognition, creating an extraordinary mixture of people from all over the world. They are making amazing things. Mexico City as a whole is becoming a more and more international city, with colors, contrasts, food, and culture to last a lifetime and more! It drives me crazy! (In the best way.)
A blog worth reading daily.
I don’t read blogs, but I like sites like Nowness or Sight Unseen. They release pretty cool stories and coverage of things happening around the world.
A book you constantly quote.
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.
How are you contributing into making our planet a more livable, sustainable and healthy place?
I really like vintage furniture, so I would say, let’s stop buying everything new and go back to repurposing things. It’s not only so easy, but you can also find beautiful hidden pieces in the making.
Mention a quote you like that represents the way you have embraced the change we’re living.
“Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” -Haruki Murakami
A fun project, concept or talent you discovered recently and that you want to share with others?
Yellow Nose Studio based in Berlin.
How is Mexico contributing to the design and art scene?
Mexico is experiencing a creative renaissance in general. I believe that we are living in one of the most “woke” times ever, which Mexico hasn’t seen in decades since maybe the Revolution or such! It has become the most important Latin American city in terms of design and art. There is a huge wave of migrations to Mexico from all over the globe, and with it a new wave of young artists coming to explore, discover and connect their ideas here. These new artists are coming to a place with a cultural heritage in art that has local primary materials and the workmanship of incredible artists and craftsmen that haven’t been given its due and is now happening. Not to mention that production costs in Mexico are relatively cheap, which gives the opportunity to create more things and improve its designs in the making; overall more space for exploration. The combination of Mexican labor with foreign design happening now is truly incredible. With these products being shipped abroad, it gives Mexican designers an open door to be internationally seen in art and design biennials and fairs. While on the consumer side, there is an education revolution for the Mexican population as they seem to be realizing the potential of buying locally and that supporting these young artists is not only good for their pockets but is an amazing investment in the future.