Kim Mupangilaï, Interior Architect & Graphic Designer

Name: Kim Mupangilaï (@Pangilai)
Age: 31
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
City: Brooklyn, New York

 

We first discovered Kim through a Los Angeles  based sustainable brand called Subsurface. Her artistic imagery, effortless attitude and beautifully styled home instantly caught our attention and we just fell in love with her overall vibe. We had the pleasure of getting to know Kim as she talks about the inspiration behind work and life in Brooklyn. 

 

Who are you, where did you grow up, and what do you do?

I’m Kim and I am half Belgian, half Congolese born and raised in Belgium.
I moved to New York 3 years ago and I’m an interior architect and Graphic Designer.

How did you start in the industry? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

I studied for 8 years at art school. I landed my first solo project as an interior architect in New York in 2017 and that opened a lot of doors for me.

As a child I was always very fascinated with interior, architecture and typography and I wanted to do pursuit that curiosity and interest, so at the age of 31 I see my job as my passion, my life, not so much as work.

Can you tell us a little bit about your favorite past projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve had the chance to design a bar/restaurant/music venue in Brooklyn and I absolutely loved it. Of course it came with a lot challenges and struggles, but that’s part of the journey. That’s how you perfect your craft by falling and getting back up. Up until this day the bar is still open and has become a favourite spot to the neighbourhood, which was my goal.. to create a space for the community.

 

Interior of Ponyboy, Designed by Kim.

Where do you find inspiration when are starting a new interior project? 

Honestly, I find inspiration in the littlest things; the daily life. I often listen to music, read books, go on a run or go to an art exhibition to get inspired. Other times it`s a a certain composition created by a shadow or ray of light in the streets that could be the base of my concept for a new project. It`s all part of my creative process.

 What is the best part about your job?

For me the idea of bringing ones private home or public space into existence by not only understanding the environmental aspects, it makes me happy to give a space shape and form through understanding what people desire and value in life/their home. Having the awareness of space and feeling the energy of people allows me to better grasp and shape the interior so that eventually the interior will reflect them. That’s the best reward I could possibly wish for in my job.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

I’ve had to work with a team of men in the past when I had my own projects, which can be very intimidating sometimes. However, I realized very quickly that I shouldn’t feel intimidated and that I’m entitled to delegate tasks to men.

How do you stay motivated?

Motivation doesn’t always have to be work. I go on bike rides with my partner and sit in the park or on my deck and talk about creating new projects together, or making my matcha in the morning and writing down words, sketching furniture and really believing in what passion can do to ones life. If there is passion, there is life. Creating is what I strive for, is what keeps me going and passion is all I need to stay motivated.

When do you feel the most empowered? 

When I’m in control of my time spent, in other words, when I can spend my free time brainstorming for personal projects and when I’m able to bring those ideas into fruition.

Who are you most inspired by?

I get inspiration from all creative sources. Whether it`s a man on the street making origami or an art exhibition. It`s all part of my creative process. Some of the people that really inspired me are for instance Jean-Michel Basquiat, Percival Lafer (60`s Brazillian furniture designer), Bauhaus, Brancusi (Romanian Sculptor), Louis Kahn (American Architect), these are just a couple that inspire me.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

You are in charge of your own creative path and you are the only one who needs to believe in yourself in order to succeed in life and your profession. Manifestation is key and will return to you as long as you believe in it.

The road will always be rocky. Not only in the beginning, but also throughout the whole journey. Don’t give up. If you have a vision and you know where you want to see yourself in life, there is only accepting what is coming towards you, handling it and growing stronger from that. Remembering that you have to give yourself the opportunity to practice and get better. Nothing is perfect from the beginning and failure is important in the process. Run towards the conflicts, instead of running away. You’ll get there, see the bigger picture and turn it into art. We are all unique in our own way and that is something no one can take away from us. Don`t be afraid to stand your ground and show vulnerability and compassion, because that can work surprisingly well in a woman’s favor.

We absolutely love your home interior! How would you describe your personal aesthetic? 

I would describe it as an eclectic wabi-sabi home; a mixture of 60’s Brazilian brutalist design, Japanese minimalism (lots of wooden low benches, platform bed, variety of vintage pottery and bowls), primitive furniture, a couple of art-deco key pieces, mostly lots of wood and aged leather and a bunch of plants. Sometimes it feels like I don’t live in New York. I call it my little Brooklyn green oasis.

 

Kim's home in Brooklyn, Captured by Gabriel Flores 

 

Where are your favorite spots in NY to eat and drink?

 The Brooklyn Ball Factory – Bushwick: Favorite spot to get matcha, if I’m not making it myself at home

Ponyboy – Greenpoint: My first bar/restaurant/creative venue I designed

Winson – Bushwick: Best Taiwanese cuisine

Prospect Park: Most beautiful park for wine and a picnic

My 2 decks – Crown Heights: My most sacred places to have coffee/matcha and enjoy a peaceful meal.

 

How do you unwind or take time for yourself?

  • Taking the time to reflect on my day. Kind of like a moment of solitude and meditation.
  • Taking breaks, that will allow me to be my most creative if I take a step back from my work.
  • I go boxing to release any kind of tension whether it’s work related or personal. It clears my mind and at the same time keeps me strong mentally and physically.
  • Taking care of my face. I`ve always been fascinated with skin products. We live in such a polluted world that if we don’t take care of our skin it will suffer from it.
  • Experiment in the kitchen. I`ve been a vegetarian since I was 7, so I love to create new meals with different spices and combine sweet and savoury.
  • Listen to music. I wouldn`t be alive right now if I couldn`t listen to music. From the minute I wake up to minute I leave the house for work I listen to music. The same goes for when I come home. Music every second of the day. It shapes my mood, my drive and my creativity.
  • Reading books