Mim Design is an award-winning Melbourne-based interior design practice known for its creative luxury finishes and attention to detail. The firm has spent more than 20 years curating a diverse portfolio spanning high-end residential, retail, hospitality and corporate. More recently the design studio has expanded into five-star hotels, custom multi-residential interiors and furnishings.
We spoke with Miriam Fanning, Managing Director about her holistic design ethos, where she finds inspiration, and her favourite places to visit in Melbourne.
Ms Fanning, what does ‘holistic design’ mean to you? What are the essential ingredients?
The key ingredients are understanding the existing ethos of a space:
- Planning to suit the project whether it’s residential, retail or hospitality.
- Close communication with the client and ensuring there is a great collaboration that exists.
- Creating a concept that not only meets the brief, but also pushes some parameters to ensure the project has strong design meaning.
- Documenting and paying attention to all details including the minute ones; often these are the ones that make a difference.
- Construction, understanding the aspects of the build and ensuring the design is delivered and the construction crew understand the design intent.
- Making sure the project is finished and followed through with all layers, especially furniture and artwork, as all of these pieces work together to achieve the end result. It’s not just about creating the design and walking away. Holistic is all aspects: consideration, creation, collaboration as well as site and design empathy.
Have you ever designed the perfect interior? What’s the closest you’ve gotten?
That’s a hard question! Being a designer, execution is that part of a project where you wake up in the middle of the night and hope to god all aspects are followed through, right down to the minute detail.
The closest we have ever come to ‘designer perfect’ in our eyes was the MAH Residence. Our client, a builder, was also a perfectionist and it was a great project to work on with his family. Not only did we achieve a great result, we also had a great experience and enjoyed each other’s company throughout this project. I don’t think it can be under-estimated: a great project (or perfect interior) is often/always achieved with the experience of working with a great client and builder. It makes our job all the more pleasurable and enables us to keep hold of our creativity and inspiration.
The MAH Residence. Light streams through the windows, creating a muted sense of luxury. The natural elements – such as smoked oak floors, elegant grey marble, and black stained timber – bring sense of balance, calm and space.
What is the role of an interior designer working on residential projects?
Our role is almost that of a design therapist!! No really, it’s understanding the client personally as well as their brief. We have to be good extractors! For us we like to get involved very early on a project, at the initial planning stages, right through to concept, design, documentation, furniture and artwork…
How do you stop the designing process? What do you do to clear your head of a project, so you can start the new one afresh?
Personally I never stop the designing process – whether it’s watching a movie or going to dinner, aspects of design always enter my life, whether it’s looking at an edge detail or reviewing cinematography and the way a film is shot.
I even take inspiration from the simplest form. On my last holiday to New Zealand I was infatuated with the stop signs in Queenstown!! For me I don’t think I ever clear my head. Each project is different and each project evolves over time as a designer. We always take knowledge and information from experience and it’s great to take that through your career.
The T&PC Residence. The design responds to the client’s brief for a dialogue between the old Victorian property, coupled with the increasing demands of catering for a young family of five.
What’s a problem within the interior design industry? What do you think the solution is?
As an interior designer, the problem within our industry is the public not understanding what we do, Architects are registered and are able to call themselves interior designers, but we are not able to reverse those roles. I think our industry suffers by not having a governing body in place, as well as a service definition. Interior designers cover so many architectural and some more decorational services. It would be terrific for our industry if this was communicated with a more formal structure.
Tell us a bit more about Melbourne:
Best place to shop design… Hub Furniture
Best place to eat… Di Stasio, St Kilda
Best place to drink… Di Stasio, St Kilda
Best place to stay… Port Phillip Estate, Mornington Peninsula
Best place to be… NGV
MAH Residence Photography: Peter Clarke | T&PC Residence Photography: Sharyn Cairns