A two-bedroom apartment in Macau’s newest central Taipa residential development is home to Portuguese couple Diogo and Marisa
With their two paths destined to cross, both Diogo and Marisa’s connections with Macau go back a number of years. Born in Macau, Marisa comes from a family of teachers; both parents wanted an adventure and were fortunate to win a place in a jobs lottery – which brought them to Macau. Then when she was 6, the family returned to their home town Braga in Portugal. Diogo was born in Porto and had visited Macau several times to stay with an uncle working here. When in their 20’s, they met at a friend’s dinner party in Braga in 2016.
With a primary school and kindergarten Master’s degree under her belt, like her parents Marisa wanted to explore the world. She was delighted to be invited to come to Macau to work at St Joseph’s, teaching Portuguese to Chinese-speaking students. “I love my job”, she says, “I use creative arts, music, songs, drawings, pictures, to help the children better remember the words”.
Meantime Diogo, who at the time was working for a sports nutrition company in Portugal, often dreamt of working abroad so was happy to join Marisa in Macau.
Arriving about a year ago, their first home was at The Cerese in the Red Market and Mong Ha district. They chose the area primarily as it was close to Marisa’s school, but also because “it’s very busy, there’s so many people, it’s got a fun vibe … its near my parent’s old apartment in Caravelle Court, and I immediately felt at home” she explains.
Diogo now works as Head of Sales and Marketing for a prestigious local contracting company.
Once the year was up in their first apartment, the couple decided that they wanted a change of scene and to make the move to central Taipa. And with new beginnings, they chose the brand new Nova Grand. “We wanted to be in Central Taipa, around the park”, says Diogo. “This was the first apartment I saw – the moment I saw the views I knew that it was the home for us”. Indeed their 2-bedroom corner unit commands superb views of the Macau skyline from the master bedroom, and the Taipa city scape and park from the 2nd bedroom and living room. With the pale wood floors, high ceilings and stark white walls, the space feels very bright and airy.
“We originally wanted to get a balcony but this view beat that idea. Besides, with the pollution it’s unlikely we’d use it much. If we want, we can go downstairs to the garden podium on 3/F, and sit out on the chairs provided there.”
And who chose the furniture I ask? “We appointed a well known designer Karen from DESIGN K based in Dubai as we had seen her work previously and loved it. check out www.designk.co/services and Instagram: designk_ ). All work was done remotely , “I sent her the apartment dimensions, some photos and a video, and she provided a furniture layout and mood boards for each room. Once we approved the moodboards she procured all the items on line from IKEA in Hong Kong.” Marisa admits to having been a little nervous with the process … “I just couldn’t imagine how it would all turn out.” “Yes, and the apartment looked much smaller initially so there was some concern until we got the furniture in” says Diogo.
Karen from DESIGN K, a qualified civil engineer, is from South Africa, specialized as a transportation engineer. She spent the earlier part of her working career building electronic networks on a computer system that simulates traffic and plans roads to accommodate the traffic needs. The system analyses the traffic impact of building a new shopping center for example, a new hotel or new residential development and it estimates traffic flow for 5 & 10 years ahead.
“I’ve lived in Dubai now for 11 years, and it was here that I decided to change careers” says Karen by telephone. “I worked first as a project manager for an interior design company, then as retail design manager for the Mall of Emirates. I then opened DESIGN K … and I provide design services to clients all around the world, via email and video call. My style is contemporary soft minimalistic. I tend to use neutral colours and soft angles, not the harsh, modern look that is often seen. These days my projects are residential – kids rooms, living rooms, and retail – not the huge offices, but more the small boutique offices.”
For Diogo and Marisa’s apartment, Karen produced a floor layout to scale and then went on line, saw what IKEA in Hong Kong had, and ordered accordingly to fit the layout, “so spatially I knew it would work.”
The couple is delighted with the result. “We too like a minimalist look, we like furniture that is simple but practical, and we believe that less is more. For us, to fill a house, we don’t need things, we are enough, our memories, love, and of course good food!” enthuses Marisa.
“The apartment is still a work in progress. We plan to add some shelves behind the sofa, a wall mirror, some more art work, and to change the curtains” describes Diogo. The master bedroom has one of IKEA’s clever beds that with a pull at the base, opens up to provide a lot of storage space underneath. Accessories are kept to a minimum, with a charming trio of art deco painted sardines hinting at the nationality of the apartment’s residents!
The second bedroom is multi-purpose; it’s a dressing room containing all the hanging wardrobes (with useful mirror fronted doors that reflect light and make the space feel larger) and a home office, with a desk and chair that enjoy a magnificent view. It’s also the guest room, with smart dark grey suede sofa that pulls out as a comfortable double bed. This was bought from a local store by the Red Market. Oversize orange throw cushions give the space a ‘pop’ and 2 framed printed map posters complete the look. These come from Swedish on-line company Mapiful (www.mapiful.com). “We so enjoy having these maps of our home towns, one of Braga and the other of Vila Nova de Gaia, on the other-side of the river running through Porto.”
In the living room, the L-shape sofa is an elegant dark grey matched with tan cushions and pale wood legs that match the pale wood coffee table. The dining table is pale ash paired with white chairs. A tan wicker chandelier light shade hangs above.
The kitchen is galley style, with smart grey and stainless steel cabinetry and finishes. Common in a number of the newer developments, a small terrace off the kitchen serves as a laundry to accommodate a washing machine. The bathroom is elegantly appointed with grey and white striated marble.
“Being in the center of Taipa we decided we won’t get a car, public transport is very convenient” they both agree. “We enjoy exploring the neighborhood – it’s great for food, our regulars are the Kingship sushi next to BNU and the Duckling restaurant that serves the best char sui and roast duck. On weekends we enjoy going to Cuppa Coffee for an expresso and some of their delicious egg tarts. For shopping, Seng Cheong and CCK are an easy walk away.” And soon to open is the Nova Grand Mall below – it will be home to Macau’s first IKEA, a supermarket, a cinema, numerous food and beverage and fashion outlets and a kid’s play area in the basement.
“We love Macau and consider ourselves very lucky living here” smiles Marisa. “It’s our first overseas home together. We appreciate the mix of cultures, the casino buildings are amazing, it has almost a vacation, out of this world feel.”
Article written by Suzanne Watkinson, Managing Director of Ambiente Properties, for the Macau Closer magazine
Photographs: Suzanne Watkinson