Gleb Belyaev is a Russian-born interior designer and architect whose world-class style ranges from classical elegance to contemporary expressions. From his new Mo..ow Design studio in Manhattan (whose name comes from “Moscow” without the “s” and “c”), he also works with European companies like Turri furniture and German interior building specialists to create custom heirloom pieces and fine cabinetry, wall paneling, ceilings, moldings and flooring.
What is your background in interior and furniture design?
I have a degree from a top Russian design academy and have worked on everything from contemporary and art deco–style apartments to seaside villas and European palaces in Italy, Spain, Russia and Dubai— designing the entire interiors and many of the furnishings.
What do you believe is the European approach to design?
In Europe, we put a lot of emphasis on the quality of the interior structure—surfaces are level and balanced, and angles are precise and symmetrical. With cabinetry and decorative woodwork, we try to ensure that woods are from the same forest reserve and even the same tree for uniformity as the woods age. This sets the perfect canvas.
While tastes may range from the most modern to classical, there’s always an emphasis on quality— particularly with furniture and pieces that stand the test of time and can be passed down through a family.
What are the advantages of using millwork for the decoration of living spaces?
Millwork wood decoration is probably the most reliable form of decoration for walls and ceilings, more so than paint or wallpaper. It has natural, unexpected patterns of grain and rich color (created by the light reflected from behind the lacquering) that lasts forever. Unlike with gypsum plaster trimmings and moldings, the wood millwork design can be mirrored in the furniture design, and vice versa—the veneer design and curves from furniture can also be applied to wood panels.