Founder of of Muzo Design
Hiver Mika Kanayama was originally a musician from Osaka, Japan. She is now one of the hotest interior designers in Soho!
She came to London to pursue a career in music. After touring the world she decided to take a different path and to follow her lifelong interest in interior design. An attendee of our Hive events and a speaker at our previous event, we thought we'd give you even more insight into her and her business, Muzo.
Please tell us a little about yourselves, your company and your services…
I'm Mika Kanayama. I run an interior design studio Muzo (www.muzodesign.co.uk) based in Walthamstow. The studio specialises in F&B and hospitality, designing restaurants, bars, cinemas and hotels in the UK and internationally. Projects have included The Garden Cinema in Covent Garden, Kibako (formerly Hot Stone) in Fitzrovia and Armstrong Audio Coffee Shop which is a minute walk away from Blackhorse Road tube station, Walthamstow.
I was originally a musician but after touring the world I decided to take a different path and to follow my lifelong interest in interior design. I studied for my degree in interior design when my children were small, and went on working and gaining experience at several acclaimed interior design studios before establishing my own studio, Muzo in 2018.
Where do you live?
I live in Walthamstow, near Blackhorse Road. I moved here in 2011 and love seeing how the area has changed, it's now home to lots of small workshops and creative studios. Having Walthamstow wetlands on our doorstep is fantastic, too. It looks like there are many more good things coming to the area and I'm looking forward to it.
When did you first discover The Hive Collective and what do you enjoy most about the events?
I was on Forge program back in 2020, a business support programme run by Creative Unite with networking events provided by The Hive collective. It was the last edition of the Forge and it happened during lockdown - therefore the program was run remotely. Obviously during lockdown opportunities for any sort of networking were limited, and it was great that I was able to take part in the workshop and meet local creative business people from the convenience of zoom.
Now 2023, I was recently invited to the Hive’s networking event as a speaker. The event was fantastic, the atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly - I believe this is because of how Nat and Carmel run this. I was happy to talk about my business in front of like-minded people and enjoyed the whole thing very much. There were also some old faces from Forge and local friends who came to the event, which I didn’t expect, so I was very happy to see them again too. What The Hive events bring is great and we are lucky to have events like this locally.
What are the challenges of owning your own business?
I had no idea how to run a business before owning my own, so everything is learning - from accounting to marketing. You find out that it isn't just as simple as doing what you are good at - and while that's the core of your business, you do sometimes yhave to set that aside. Also time management can be quite loose and it's easy to get carried away - especially when you are working from home. There is no stopping unless you tell yourself to stop - and taking time off is important to separate life and work.
Are there any advantages?
Well on the opposite side of the coin, flexibility is one of the great things about running your own business. You can manage your time how you like - it definitely works better for me as I have kids and I'm able to prioritise them when I need to. Every decision you make is your own, it can be difficult but you run a business in the way you believe. You also get a great sense of achievement and reward as your business grows.
We’d love to know your Hive Success Story….
During the Forge program we had great opportunities to meet and listen to speakers that The Hive Collective brought to the events. One of the speakers was Shamil, the owner of Armstrong Audio Coffee Shop. I was inspired by his speech, as I also live very close to the cafe, so after the event once lockdown was lifted I went to say hi and had a chat, then from that he asked us to re-design his coffee shop and fit-out work was also done by Muzo. I loved the whole thing about the local project, most trades that were involved were local, it had a great sense of local businesses together. And very happy to see the display shelf we designed and produced is now showcasing local products for sale.
Finally, tell something about your business that makes you stand out from the rest!
I think that my background and experience - of being both Japanese and a Londoner - is reflected in my design style and service, and my design approach is a synthesis of influences from both places. Because we're a small studio, we're very flexible in terms of time, budget and in being able to offer a service tailored to the client's needs - we work closely with clients from initial concept design through to completion and provide as much additional support and guidance as we can. We try to keep in mind that each project has it's own unique story and character - and is equally important - equally deserving of new ideas and attention, regardless of the scope or scale.
Although design is always client driven - our approach focuses particularly on the end experience for the people who will be using the space. Great ideas start with a conversation, so feel free to get in touch with us!