An Interior Designer’s Simple & Modern Beijing Flat
Location: Sanlitun — Beijing, China
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
It’s hard to find an expat in Beijing who doesn’t know about the Moka Bros, or the Venezuelan siblings behind it. When the restaurant first opened in 2013, it flipped the capital’s healthy café scene on its head, largely thanks to its refreshingly bold and trendy creative concept. The woman behind that design, and that of many other successful eateries in the city, is Coro Urdaneta of her namesake studio CoromotoAD. With more than 30 projects behind her in just a few years, it’s hardly a surprise that some of this design wisdom — as well as the furnishings themselves — would spill over into the Beijing home she shares with her husband Marco Cortavitarte.
Almost everywhere you look there are samples and prototypes (mostly chairs) from the restaurants she designed, like a wood chair from the popular Mexican restaurant QMex, a light-gray cushioned seat from Japanese bento box establishment Obentos, and a chair from Moka Bros’s sister restaurant Mosto. Coro, who studied architecture in Venezuela, even commissions her own pieces through her studio’s suppliers.
Of course, a home is always so much more than its furniture, and this couldn’t be more true for Coro and Marco. This apartment in Sanlitun’s former diplomatic residence compound is their first place together in Beijing — they spent years apart as a married couple after Coro found out she couldn’t move back to the U.S.. Marco eventually left his life in Miami to join her in China, bringing with him some of her prized possessions that now dot their apartment. Alongside decorations from Venezuela, the U.S., Peru, and Spain are pieces accumulated from their new life chapter in Asia, making for a space with no shortage of personality.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Simple and modern, although a bit eclectic.
Inspiration: Travels and my everyday work as an interior designer.
Favorite Element: The circle on the living room wall.
Biggest Challenge: A small kitchen and bathroom.
What Friends Say: That it’s so bright and feels very cozy. They love that I have so many custom-designed pieces (mainly designed by me), especially since in China, most expats rent and they don’t want to invest too much in their homes.
Biggest Embarrassment: The guest room closet. It came with the apartment, and I always promised myself that I’ll fix it (DIY style), but it never happened.
Proudest DIY: The circle on the wall and the cabinets in the entrance (I designed them, but I didn’t build them).
Biggest Indulgence: The light fixtures.
Best Advice: Keep it simple. Less is more. Always try to bring a touch of your personality, even if it’s in a little corner. I really love to make little corners in every room to display all the little things I bring from my travels. The perfect way to create this corner is using a tray to unify them.
Dream Sources: If we’re talking about sources in the U.S., I love DWR (Design Within Reach) for big pieces, but if I could really splurge, I would go for the Scandinavian brands like Muuto, Note Design Studio, and Australian designers. To be honest, as an architect and interior designer, there are so many brands I love, and I’d use them according to my influence or mood that year. My personal taste gets influenced a lot by my travels and the design projects I get involved with every year.
Dulux — 50YR 26/023 Ominous (Circle in Living Room)
Circle Mirror — Custom made by CoromotoAD
“Hello” Sign — Target in Australia
Cabinets — Custom made by CoromotoAD
Cabinet — Gaobedian, Beijing
Plant Stand — Local flower market
Entry Table — Custom made by CoromotoAD (Find similar at Target)
Couch — QM store, Beijing (Find similar at West Elm)
Coffee table — Replica Elliptical Table ETR Vitra
Wall Light — Taobao (It’s similar to the Aasen Wall Lamp)
Pillows — Pillows are a mix; some are custom made with local fabrics, the black ones are from IKEA, and the colorful ones are from Spain
Magazine Basket —Vintage find from a Beijing market.
Ceiling Lights — Taobao (Find similar at Target)
Print above dining table — Bought in San Sebastian, Basque Country
Dining Table — Custom made by CoromotoAD (Find similar at Target)
Salt and Pepper Shakers — West Elm in Australia
Small Stools — Pangjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing
Mirrors — Bought in Peru
Chairs — Mix of pieces from restaurants Coro’s studio has designed. Yellow armchairs are Tolix in a custom yellow color. Find similar chairs in 13 colors at Target.
Yellow Stool — Lily’s Antiques (Find similar on Amazon)
Nightstands – Gaobeidian, Beijing (Find similar at West Elm)
Ceiling Lights – AIM by Flos
Three Prints Friend and Venezuelan artist Gustavo Rugeles
Bean Bag – Taobao (Find similar on Amazon)
White Lamps — Sourced from a local lamp market (Find similar at IKEA)
Pillows — Custom made in Beijing with local fabrics
White Dresser — IKEA
Green Shelf — Gaobedian
Bull — From Barcelona
Kaleido Tray — HAY
Candle Holder — Bought in Australia from a local designer
“Detective Comics” Print — I got it in Barcelona for my husband who’s a comics fan
Microwave cart — Taobao (Find similar on Amazon)
Wire Baskets — IKEA and H M Home
Yellow Nightstand — Taobao (Find similar at IKEA)
Blue Rug — Loft, Japan
Floor Lamp — DIY from lamp pieces from local market
Chair — The first prototype for Beijing’s QMex restaurant, designed by CoromotoAD
Table — Upcycled from office (Table top is upcycled and legs are from IKEA)
White Stool — Taobao (Find similar on Amazon)
Pink Paper Tray — IKEA
Small Tray — Urban Outfitters
My Cinema Lightbox — Bought in Australia (Find similar on Amazon)
Sign — Bought in Melbourne, Australia
Photograph – Bought at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia
Yellow Bench — Pangjiayuan Antique Market
Blue Bench – Vintage find at a Beijing market