Mildred & Duck is a Melbourne based Graphic Design and Communication Studio.
What made you guys start Mildred & Duck?
We met during university and we’ve been working together ever since. We were lucky to be a part of an honours year that was run like a small design studio, so we got a lot of hands on experience during this year. We also worked on a lot of projects outside of uni together whilst we were studying, so it seemed like a natural progression to then start our own studio once we had graduated. That was five years ago.
How many of you are there in the studio? And what percentage of that is designers?
For the most part it’s just the two of us that make up Mildred & Duck, and we’re both designers. We have a studio space in the Nicholas Building (in Melbourne) that we had fitted out at the end of last year, and we rent out a couple of extra desks spaces in our studio to other creatives. The Nicholas Building itself is filled with a really interesting mix of creatives and makers, from jewellers to shoe makers and even some small stores, so we never feel alone and there’s always something interesting going on!
“We met during university and we’ve been working together ever since.”
You mention on your website that having a small team allows you to take care of every detail during the design process. How important do you think it is having a close knit team and focusing on attention to detail?
Detail is so important to us, and we really value being able to oversee every aspect of all of our jobs. We are both involved in every stage of the design process, which helps build trust with our clients. We want to be accountable for every part of every project we take on, and working in a small team allows us to control what projects we work on and make sure we are completely happy with every outcome.
How do you guys approach a new project?
We really do treat every project differently, and our approach does tend to change a bit based on what is required. The main thing we always start with is meaningful conversation with our clients, questioning and really getting to know them and their requirements. We always want to make sure that we spend as long as we can with our clients to really understand their needs, which allows us to distill this into a really comprehensive brief. We find this initial stage of a project is so important, because often our clients might have an idea of what they think their requirements are, but when we start looking at a project from a new angle the requirements and approach can often be quite different.
“The main thing we always start with is meaningful conversation with our clients, questioning and really getting to know them and their requirements.”
Who are your inspirations?
We spend a lot of time going to galleries, and getting out and visiting stores and spaces whenever we can. We try to leave the studio and seek inspiration from the things around us. We’re inspired by Melbourne, it’s a really creative city and has a large and diverse design community. We were lucky to have studied in the city (at RMIT) and now we are based in the city we’re always finding something new and interesting to keep us engaged.
Generally speaking, we are inspired by anyone who is really passionate about what they do, we have a lot of respect for people in other areas of design as well and we don’t only look to other graphic designers for inspiration. Some people or studios we’re inspired by at the moment are Lucy Folk, Anders Arhoj, Andrei Davidoff, M/M Paris and Fred Fowler.
Any particular dos and don’ts?
Having a really good working relationship with our clients is really important to us, they are placing a lot of trust in us and it’s not something we take lightly. Building a relationship that allows for open communication and honesty is something we aim for with every project, so that’s one major “do” that we focus on in our work.
We’d never present any work to a client that we weren’t 100% confident in and happy with, so that’s probably the biggest “don’t” for us.
“Generally speaking, we are inspired by anyone who is really passionate about what they do.”
You’re very much multi-disciplinary in your work, has that always been the case and how important do you think it is for a design studio to be able to be that?
We try to be flexible, we’re always happy to apply design thinking to any sort of problem. We try not to limit ourselves in any way, we just approach every project individually and this allows us to produce work that we are really happy with in every sense.
How often do you look to collaborate with other creative disciplines during a project?
We always bring in collaborators when appropriate, there are so many people whose work we respect and admire and we’re always happy to work with them whenever we can. We don’t see what we do in the studio as a stand-alone kind of thing, it’s so important to look at all methods of visual communication as working together to convey a message. There’s no point in having really strong branding if the rest of the visual language isn’t just as successful, we’re always educating our clients on the value of great photography, for example.
What’s next for the studio?
We’re in the middle of a few projects for clients in the Architecture and Interiors industry, which is really exiting for us as this is an area of design that has always interested us both. It’s great to have clients that work in a creative industry and understand and respect the importance of design in all aspects of their businesses.