Headed up by Miriam (Mim) Fanning, Mim Design is a Melbourne interior design studio doing some seriously cool, award-winning work.
Miriam’s first design job was at the Buchan Group in Melbourne, where, she says, her interest in retail was combined with working in a stimulating and diverse practice. “Starting as a junior and eventually growing into the position of associate director, I was inspired by the many facets of design I experienced while working across a variety of projects.”
Having a family led her to launch Mim Design in 2000. “My main aim was, and is, to be continually inspired; I love the ability to work on a diverse range of projects within the growing and ever changing design industry.” Mim Design has grown too, from the days of just Miriam, to a busy studio of 17 staff with two fellow directors and two associates. “Our projects now range from interior design to architecture as well as place-making, styling and brand direction.”
No matter how big they grow though, they work hard to keep the business very boutique. “We maintain a close level of communication and contact with our clients throughout each project,” says Miriam. “Right from the initial briefing through to the build, it’s this close connection with our clients that allows us to take an individual approach with each project. The boutique feel is essential to our studio as it allows us to focus on the finer detail as well as create custom design and identify with a unique, timeless design element to each project.”
The talented, happy and enthusiastic team hasn’t happened by accident. “Every one of the team has an insatiable appetite to contribute creatively so, as a practice, we nurture that as our culture. We encourage everyone to bring their diverse backgrounds, styles and strengths to the table. As a studio, we use this to our advantage and have fun fusing these differences to create unique spaces. It is important that we design to suit the space, brief, and clients’ personality even though we do have varied tastes in the studio. It is important that our client’s sense of personality is implemented in each project.”
If Melbourne has its own interior aesthetic, it’s one that relies heavily on making the most of natural daylight and texture. “Inspiration is everywhere, from texture, spaces and colour for everyday living,” Miriam says. “Visualisation has always been a huge source of inspiration to me, whether it’s through travel, film or someone else’s individual philosophy and interesting critique. I’m always seeking out new inspiration and have become addicted to some fantastic design blogs recently. I must admit a trip away clarifies design sense and detail for me.”
Keeping things fresh is a challenge for all interior designers but Miriam’s approach is quite straightforward: “I find that combining true classics with contemporary designs create unexpected and satisfying elements to a project that help to keep things interesting and current. Ideas are kept fresh by ensuring each project is unique to each client. I also believe the study of form in the ‘macro’ sense opens up your eyes to deliver elements of surprise in a project through the finer detail.”
Mim Design has not one but seven projects shortlisted in the Australian Interior Design Awards 2014, with winners due to be announced in May. They also have a project shortlisted in the Dulux Colour Awards 2014, whose winners are being announced tomorrow.
Evolving as a designer is really important too, however much you’re known and respected for a certain look. “At Mim Design, we definitely have a consistent palette of finishes and products that stay true to our aesthetic, reflect a timeless quality and meet a certain functionality. And although we don’t pounce on emerging trends, we’re always incorporating aesthetics that reflect what’s going on in the global design world. For us, it’s more about finding that balance between the classic and the contemporary that creates a certain design synergy and reflects our aesthetic and ethos on every project. For us as a studio, it’s important that there is consistency in quality proportion, symmetry and form.”
The practice currently has a huge 55 active projects, with about 70 percent of it residential work. They recently started working in an architectural capacity across some jobs which, says Miriam, felt like a seamless move. “It allows for a more defined integration of interior services by enabling the architectural shell to consider joinery elements within the concept phase. The relationship between the structure of a home and its interior decoration is important to the design of any project .”
Adding to Mim Design’s holistic offering, is a growing custom furniture and lighting design function. “This side of the design process has evolved very organically and has always been something we take great pride in doing. As part of our brief to satisfy the interior needs of our clients, the idea to custom craft particular pieces made complete sense and has been really successful. Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky enough to have built close working relationships with some very talented local joiners, which makes for the perfect collaboration.”
For Miriam, as a mother and business owner, priorities always need to be balanced. “To be extremely honest, the balance is difficult. Being a business owner means living, breathing and driving your business. At the same time, as a mother, it is essential that quality time and experiences are consistent. I can’t say there is always an even balance, but as a woman (as most would agree) we are always striving for this balance.”
Her family home is simple; a meld of Victorian with a contemporary architectural addition to the rear of the property. “Our interest in art led us to a property with high ceilings and large expansive walls. Proportion and space were paramount when renovating our home and having two active boys made it important that all the spaces worked comfortably. It is also important that it is a home we can have fun in, whether it’s playing bowls down the hallway or chasing the dog around the house.
“Our home is also a relaxing and comfortable sanctum– particularly on the weekend. It’s an enjoyable space to spend time in and relax with our kids. Careful consideration was taken when designing to maximise the use of natural daylight through the casual living zone. We have just recently completed all works on the house and funnily enough I’m getting itchy to work on another project. That’s the typical designer in me!”