- Article by Jan Henderson
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Miriam Fanning is one of Australia’s leading designers, with the Midas touch when it comes to making each and every project a winner. Since she established Mim Design some 16 years ago, the practice has grown exponentially as has a clientele who comes knocking at her door. Following suit, inside co-editor Jan Henderson rings the bell of Fanning’s very own private door and finds her at home.
Jan Henderson: How long have you lived here and what drew you to the property?
Miriam Fanning: We have lived here for 13 years. What we liked was the layout and the original Victorian house from the front and the opportunity to extend the house down the track, as there is a side laneway. We also loved the suburb.
When did you produce this design?
We did this house in three stages. Obviously, the first stage was when we moved in, and so there was a bathroom renovation and repainting and restumping because it was quite a mess. The second stage was including an en suite and the third stage (nine years ago) was the rear extension.
What was the thinking behind the design?
The design for the rear extension was because the rear of the property is south facing, and we wanted to obtain the maximum morning light, but also receive afternoon sunlight. The pool was a must-have. I grew up without a swimming pool and I lived as a ‘pool gypsy’ at all my friends’ houses, so it was important for me and for our kids to have and to enjoy a pool, which is very well-used.
Are you a good client?
I’d like to think I would be a good client as I am a decisive person, but also open to exploring and listening to new ideas. I’m a big believer that if you hire a consultant it’s because they specialise in what they do and you have hired them for a reason. For our own home of course, I was my own client on behalf of our family and I did question myself through the process, but once drawings and documentation were completed, what was designed and drawn was built.
Which is your favourite room and what makes it special?
My favourite room is the lounge room, the rear lounge. It’s just a beautiful space to be in. It feels enclosed with the garden, but also the volume of the space makes it feel airy and light. I do love optimum light; I like large windows, lots of illumination, which is quite opposite, in context, to Victorian homes. So the house has two different feelings, one of containment and one of openness.
Tell us a bit about working with your art collection?
Our art collection started when my husband David and I met. The first piece we bought was a [John] Coburn. When we did the rear extension, the walls were designed for two special large paintings we owned, so a lot of thought went into where the art sits within the house.
Which is your favourite piece of furniture and why?
I absolutely love the Smock chair from Moroso. I love the fact that it’s sculptural, but it’s exceptionally comfortable and its shape and form is really beautiful. I sit on it every morning in my pyjamas and go through the first emails of the day and it’s a meditative time for me. So it’s a lovely chair that not only looks good, but is so comfortable. And I love Patricia Urquiola.
Does being in the design industry, where you’re constantly looking at new design, make it difficult to choose products for your own home?
Absolutely. I think choosing objects for your home should be very much the way you collect art. It’s a curation of pieces that over time mean something to you, or work within the home. Some may not be practical, some will, but it is about establishing a collection that you have for life. So, if you treat it in that way, you’ll end up with some beautiful pieces.
Are there any loose elements that you change frequently and, if so, what are they?
I don’t have time to change a lot of things around. I think a lot of consideration was put into this house when we first did it and I really thought about where pieces went and how they worked within the space. So, we don’t move a lot of furniture around, everything sits comfortably within the house. However, there may be a big change on the horizon. After 13 years I still love living in this house, but have an itch to create something new and build a completely new home!
Photography by Dianna Snape.
This article originally appeared in inside 95 – available digitally through Zinio.
Want to find out more about Mim Fanning? Read our 2015 interview with her here.