Balance, ballet, and the buzz of the city; we discuss the launch of MISKA STUDIO with Elena Miska
For New York-based creative director and designer Elena Miska, life has been rather busy and certainly exciting. After the pandemic, Miska has been reflecting on her personal experiences alongside the many fun endeavours that lay ahead in her future. To find out more, we caught up with her to delve into the development of her independent practice and what we can look forward to from MISKA STUDIO.
PT Hi Elena, how are you?
EM I’m feeling excited. I just launched my own studio – MISKA STUDIO – which is something that I’ve been looking forward to doing for a while now.
PT How has the last year been for you?
EM I spent 2022 focusing mainly on my personal life – I have twin toddlers! But later in the year I also began preparing for the launch of the studio, and everything that goes into getting it up and running. It feels like a really wild time to be starting something, but it also feels right.
PT Tell us about your studio; what will you be focusing on?
EM MISKA STUDIO will offer design and creative services that cater to purpose-driven and culture-forward brands and organisations. I very much enjoy working across a range of industries, so we will continue to do that, but there will definitely be a focus on working with those in the cultural sphere, like performing arts and contemporary art institutions, or those creating innovative products that are truly bettering the world. My hope is that we can create distinctive work that allows them to express themselves in a bold and compelling way, and also breathe fresh life into more established institutions.
PT Can you tell us about the design and development of your new website, how was it? What vision or parameters did you have in mind when creating it?
EM The new site for MISKA STUDIO showcases a selection of work and gives an overview of the studio’s capabilities. I wanted it to feel connected to but different from my personal portfolio site, so there’s some overlap in terms of font and colour choices, but other than that it stands on its own. It was important to me that the new site represents the brand and ethos of the studio, but that it didn’t get in the way of the work or the messaging.
I was fortunate to be able to partner with a fantastic developer who was able to bring it to life in a beautiful and seamless way.
I approach all work with a completely individual lens.
PT Your work is often characterised by bold elegance – can you talk about this, and what sources of inspiration influence your approach?
EM I approach all work with a completely individual lens, however between past clients I’ve had and projects that I’ve done, my work does often have both those qualities you mention. I think that’s in large part due to the fact that I don’t tend to look toward similar industries for inspiration. Most companies are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors – not blend in – so seeking out unique and unexpected sources of inspiration and knowledge outside of the industry the client is in has helped me create work that feels individual and bold.
As for the elegance, I believe that comes from a place of seeking to create balance. But that being said, elegance can take on many different forms, from very nuanced typography to a harmonious colour palette to the use of negative space.
PT What led you to base your practice in New York City?
EM My partner and I moved here in 2015 from California. I had always felt drawn to this city, where so much is going on, and where many of my personal interests converge. New York is truly magnetic. In addition, many of the types of jobs I was interested in doing were based here, which I think has shifted a bit over the years, and definitely recently with the ‘work from anywhere’ mentality. That being said, I still feel that there are many opportunities based in NYC that would be a perfect fit for MISKA STUDIO.
PT When not focusing on client work, how do you like to clear your head?
EM With two young kids, the opportunities to clear my head are few and far between! That being said, nothing beats taking advantage of living in such an incredible place, and some of my favourite things to do are seeing a ballet performance, going to hear jazz, or taking a solo walk through the park on a hot summer day.
I couldn’t think of a better way to couple my passion for dance and my career in design than to work with one of these companies in a creative capacity.
PT What are some dream projects you hope to come through your studio?
EM Speaking of ballet, I’d love to work in some capacity with one of the major ballet companies in the US. I did ballet until I was 19 years old, and up until that point, I really thought I’d have a career as a dancer. While that didn’t end up working out, my love of the art form has always stayed strong, and I couldn’t think of a better way to couple my passion for dance and my career in design than to work with one of these companies in a creative capacity. I’ve already done a little bit of this, but that’s only made me want to do more, in a larger way.
I would also like to work closely with companies innovating on products that rethink the status quo. I know that sounds broad, but I have some in mind that are doing really remarkable things that could shift our dependence on non-renewable materials. To be able to help them express themselves visually in order to tell their story to a broad audience is just one piece of the puzzle, but one that is vital for their visibility and growth.
PT How would you describe your perfect work environment?
EM A space that’s peaceful and brimming with light, but also filled with talented people who add buzz and stimulation. I didn’t realise how much I miss working around other people until recently. I think we all got used to working pretty independently during the past few years, and some realised they love it, while others miss the energy and inspiration that come with working alongside peers. While I like a quiet space to focus, I find myself craving an environment where I can swivel my chair and ask the person next to me their opinion.
PT What are you looking forward to the most in 2023?
EM I’m looking forward to cultivating all the new things in my life – my family, my studio – there’s a lot. My life is so full and I’m incredibly grateful for everything in my personal and professional life, and to be able to do what I’m doing.