Hot on the heels of this week’s announcement of Siren’s new global CEO, Penny Sloane, we speak with Penny and Siren’s ‘OG’, Mia Feasey.
April 14th, 2023
When CEO and founder of Siren Design Group, Mia Feasey, recently published a ‘letter from the founder’ entitled To Zig Not Zag, we instantly sat up and took notice. “As a band of creatives we thrive on change. We like to zig when others zag. That’s our secret sauce,” she wrote.
The letter was a call to arms, and also a celebration of the interior design practice’s new rebrand – and the journey of seeking, challenging and discovering all that it entails.
Brave, authentic and kind: The Siren model
Premising Siren on values of bravery, authenticity and kindness, the practice has taken these three tenets to heart with a business model that says no to projects and companies that don’t align with its ethos. Brave indeed, but paying dividends with the 17-year-old studio boasting a portfolio of extraordinary projects and clients, and thriving. Indeed, the once-small company now houses 80 practitioners in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, New York, and London.
“I always hope, anywhere in the world, if you ever meet a Siren, you’ll instantly feel they are kind, authentic and brave,” comments Feasey. “This is how we behave and treat each other and how we think about our projects and clients.”
For Feasey the tenets are akin to family values, with a commitment to “doing your best and working your hardest” creating that magic position, when combined with authenticity. “It starts internally and flows to design and the type of clients we work with,” says Feasey. Here she references Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, who famously put his company into a trust that will benefit the environment and refused to have corporates put their name on his clothing and gear if they didn’t match his value system. “Patagonia, the stuff [they do] – that, for me, is mecca: that we work with businesses that have values and ideas about the world and climate change and the things that really matter.”
Siren announces its new global CEO
Not one to sit still for long, Feasey made a new announcement this week. “We have some exciting news to share. The wonderful Penny Sloane, co-founder and MD of our Siren Singapore studio is stepping up into the role of global CEO. As a result, I will be moving into the position of non-executive director on the board. This will allow me to spend more time with my family,” says Feasey.
“I often talk about my Siren sisters and Penny is the original sister. She was there with me from the beginning, quite literally from the first days of the business. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate succession plan. Siren is in Penny’s DNA – she understands the business and our people and clients to her core and she cares. That’s what matters. She also has the hunger and drive to take what we have built and to enable it to thrive. I can’t wait to see where things go to from here under Penny’s guidance,” says Feasey.
According to Sloane, “Taking on the role of Global CEO is my dream come true. I’ve always loved Siren, our values, our people, our clients and the work we do. I know Mia has put her life and soul into the Siren business and taking on ‘her baby’ is an honour. I’m a true believer in the spirit of the business and the thought of building upon Mia’s legacy and having the chance to take things to the next level is exciting to say the least.”
Siren at its best: “Our best work is when we are not frightened of making a mistake”
In recent years Feasey has been working hard to confront industry demons where, as she says, “the churn in the interiors industry has been worse than in fashion”. And this is something that the Siren team is working to remedy one project at a time.
Authenticity for Siren is a base starting point that has become increasingly relevant as, post COVID, clients are looking for smaller, leaner workspaces that are simultaneously more heartfelt and thoughtful. Effectively, the workplace needs to be flexible and nurturing to maintain relevance: “This approach has become more important and resonates with people, and it really works with this current environment,” says Feasey.
Noting that creative thinkers and design thinkers are the key people who can help solve those problems, Sloane is adamant that the non-linear thinking of creatives is key to future endeavours. “To not give the standard answer, and not just accept the way we must do something. Our best work is when we are not frightened of making a mistake. Having confidence to know we’ll solve that problem.”
With a client list that encompasses the likes of CitiBank, Google, Visa, IMC, Amazon, PwC, Audi, P&G and Charter Hall Feasey attributes Siren’s culture of bravery to its ability to attract impressive clients. And essentially, the right clients.
“Bravery [on our part is to] be willing to say no to the wrong jobs and clients. It’s about really trying to use our powers for good,” says Feasey. Because when you do it with the right people – both colleagues and clients – “it can have big impact”.
Building on Siren’s foundations of bravery and big impact
“Now that I’m based in London I can see the global opportunity and I’m looking forward to extending the great work we do even further across the globe,” says Sloane. “I’m immensely proud of what we have built so far and I know we can spread the Siren approach and design philosophy far and wide,” she says.
“It’s a privilege to be able to lead our talented band of creatives alongside our fabulous studio leaders and partners Nicole Pollak (managing director and co-founder, Melbourne); Nicole Fitzgerald (managing director, Sydney); Junlong Lin (design director, Singapore) and Christina Magrans (managing director and co-founder, New York),” says Sloane.
Siren Design Group
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