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5 Mins With Miriam Fanning of Mim Design

You might know Australian designer Miriam Fanning as the founder and principal of award-winning Melbourne-based practice, Mim Design – but there is so much more to this high-achieving, industry wonder woman. We take five with one of Australia’s most significant design thinkers. Here’s what’s she had to say…

  • Miriam Fanning

  • Woodcut by Mim Design. Photo by Sean Fennessy.

  • MCF Residence by Mim Design. Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

  • DDM Residence by Mim Design. Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

  • Luminary Apartments by Mim Design. Photo by Peter Clarke.

  • Au79 by Mim Design. Photo by Peter Clarke.

  • DRF Residence by Mim Design. Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

Miriam Fanning is a design industry maven. Having practised for over 20 years, she has built a solid reputation through her involvement with an interesting mix of typologies ranging from residential (both individual and multi), through to hospitality, hotel, bespoke retail and large-scale retail.

As the founding director of her eponymous studio Mim Design, Miriam is a creative chameleon who has spent the last 20 years working alongside a collective of talented individuals (herself included) who share design expertise and inspiration through a wide range of skills such as interior design, exterior design, custom furniture and industrial design, styling, creative brand direction, environmental graphic application and architectural integration.

Miriam took 5 mins out of her day to give a rare insight into one of the Asia Pacific’s most highly regarded design studios, her best and worst design experiences of the last 20 years, and what she thinks is the greatest challenge facing the Australian design industry…

“It’s important for us and for our clients that each job has an identifiable team working on it.” – Miriam Fanning

IDL: How would you describe your practice? 

Miriam Fanning: We are an award-winning practice known for its creativity, high-end finishes and attention to detail.  Recognised nationally and internationally we have spent 17 years curating a diverse portfolio spanning high-end residential, retail, hospitality and corporate projects. We are passionate about all facets of design and our focus is always on creating spaces that are sophisticated, refined and genuinely reflecting a client’s personality or brand. We have 25 staff members and don’t have any plans to get much bigger; it’s important for us and for our clients that each job has an identifiable team working on it where relationships can develop and endure.

What was your original vision for Mim, and how have you achieved that?

The vision for Mim Design grew organically through the constant need to challenge ourselves from a design and business perspective. It has always been important to us to have design differentiation from project to project and client to client.

This ensures we are designing and delivering a tailored response to each project. Designing and running a business this way always ensures we are ‘inspired’, which is one of the most important factors for me personally.

What would you say is a typical Mim project signature?

MF: I would say our signature is customisation, detail, shape, form and proportion. As a studio, we love shape and form. We try to utilise this vision by incorporating these elements on projects; whether it’s a joinery piece, kitchen/bathroom detail, or wall form. Details and well-resolved execution of design items are also important to us, as is the use of authentic, quality materials.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for Australian designers right now and how is Mim approaching those challenges? What would you like to see change?

MF: I think some of the biggest challenges for Australian designers today is the public understanding of what we do. Many reality television shows have done our industry a disservice and don’t actually reflect how we design and what we do as educated individuals. A project is an all engaging process that takes time! I do, 100 per cent, agree with the statement “Good design takes time.”

What are your best and worst memories of the last 20 years?

MF: The best memories are the types of projects we have worked on as well as working with fantastic individuals that form our studio. The worst memory is a difficult client (or two) simply not understanding the design process and builders not ordering specified materials when they should.

What do you feel have been your greatest accomplishments as designers and as a brand?  

MF: I think our greatest accomplishments are our clients and the fact that a lot of them are repeat clients, which means we are able to form a great relationship and in some cases friendship.

What’s next for Mim? 

MF: We always look forward to the diversity our projects bring. We are working on a number of boutique developments in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. In particular, we will be refurbishing a penthouse apartment in a Harry Seidler building in Darlinghurst, which has amazing views. Also, very exciting for us, is our first project in Hong Kong, a penthouse apartment. 

Coming up corporately, we have some great fit-outs of a boutique nature as well as hotel refurbishments. Our new direction for residential projects is to work from scratch, which will include full builds externally and internally – currently we have 17 new projects underway. Finally, we hope to have time to complete some custom design furniture we have been working on.

Peruse this Portsea house project by Mim Design.

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