Young designer and creator of the Meanwhile in Melbourne Instagram account and blog Manuela Millan took some time out from her busy schedule to take part in this week’s Q&ADR.
Australian Design Review: Can you tell us about your background and how you got into the design industry?
Manuela Millan: I studied Visual Arts when I first arrived in Australia and got into a role as a visual merchandiser for three years. After I got my citizenship, I decided to go back to study interior design because I wanted to be able to be creative and also design spaces which improve people’s enjoyment of life.
I started the Meanwhile in Melbourne Instagram account two years ago just as a fun way to get to know the Melbourne design community and find beautiful architecture, interiors, and products that are designed and produced locally. It’s through Meanwhile in Melbourne that I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people and incredible designers.
ADR: Who inspires you?
MM: I have to say my mum. She showed me from an early age that if you want something you have to make it happen, and her tenacity and work ethic showed me what you can achieve if you work hard and just keep going.
In terms of designers, I love Charlotte Perriand because she stood out in a male-dominated industry and created some of the most iconic pieces from the 20th century.
ADR: Every creative puts a part of themselves into their work. Which of your projects has been the most important to you and why?
MM: Meanwhile in Melbourne is my baby and I put almost all my free time into it – going to shoots, interviewing designers, going to events and meeting people. I do it because I love it and it is my passion as a designer to discover and share the incredible local talent that we have in Melbourne. Meanwhile in Melbourne lets me go behind the scenes of the beautiful images that we see online, and to get to know the people, stories and motivations that have contributed to the work itself.
I also put myself into the projects at Elenberg Fraser, and I work alongside a really creative team which likes to push the boundaries, so I am very grateful for that. It is important to me not only to do what you love but also to be surrounded by people who can challenge and inspire you.
ADR: What is your favourite place or space in Australia and why?
MM: There’s so much of Australia that I would love to see but that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet. For my favourite place in Melbourne, I would have to say Heide II. It’s not far from where I live so l love going there on a sunny day to grab a coffee, check out any new exhibitions and have a wander through the house and garden.
I can’t leave out MONA in Tasmania, the location and building are absolutely incredible, going down the glass elevator into the void for the first time is an unforgettable experience.
ADR: What has been the most defining moment of your life and why?
MM: Getting my Australian citizenship was a defining moment of my life. I’ll always be grateful to my Mum for taking the risk and bringing our family here and for everything she’s done for me and my brother.
ADR: What would you say has been your proudest moment, either career-wise or otherwise?
MM: I tend to celebrate even small victories (any excuse for a party!). I am proud of what I have achieved since arriving in Melbourne as a 17 year old. There are a few moments which stand out, like winning the DIA Graduate of the Year Award in 2016, getting my job at Elenberg Fraser and the recent launch of my website. I am proud that what I love doing is resonating with so many people.
ADR: What are you working on currently and what are your goals for the future, either personally or professionally?
I’ve been keeping pretty busy recently – designing a hotel project in the city at Elenberg Fraser, working on a collaboration with Habitus Living on Instagram, and trying to catch up on writing articles for the website.
In the future I hope to keep growing Meanwhile in Melbourne, expanding the directory, and getting to know more local designers (and eventually when I have the time I will get around to planning my wedding!).
You can read more from Manuela on her Website: meanwhileinmelbourne.com