House of MinaLima Opens Its New Home

Back to Hogwarts: House of MinaLima has reopened at a new location in London. You would never think 157 Wardour Street was once a little gray office space that has been magically transformed into not only a new gallery for Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima’s stunning graphic designs used in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies but also a true flagship headquarters. We got to visit the gallery’s new home and catch up with the team behind the magic.

 

There is a welcome to MinaLima sign in the shop area with Mira and Eduardo's portraits.

 

While House of MinaLima’s former address was a charming four-story townhouse, the precious props and prints have far more space in the new location, which has two floors: the shop area on the ground floor and a basement gallery. Due to Soho’s protected status, the house is not fully accessible, but so much more of it is than before. No ghosts have been detected yet, but the building can boast of artists among its former inhabitants. Miraphora Mina, one half of the fantastic design duo, told us about the search for a new home:

We were looking for a building where we could have our studio and a shop in one building, but the idea was to keep Greek Street because it was so successful and everyone loved it. Then lockdown happened, and there was no way we could have continued to operate in the restricted spaces. We kind of had that thing where ‘okay, we either just shut everything down or we keep the momentum going and just try our best to reinvent ourselves.’ We thought the best thing was to try and evolve rather than try and re-create inch by inch. My analogy is that Greek Street was the child, and this is the grown-up, the lady.

The new site can host ten visitors, plus the staff, whereas the old address could have only had two. “Strangely, actually, it is the same square footage as Greek Street; it’s just distributed differently,” Mina added, indicating the welcoming ground-floor area piled with magical items. “We had the four floors piled up like that; this feels bigger. It’s similar, but I think it’s been really nice having the gallery as a defined space and the shop area as a defined space.”

 

MinaLima's gallery is a spacious basement area, dark and full of prints framed on the walls.

A view of the downstairs gallery in House of MinaLima

 

“There are so many things that develop organically,” Mina said, emphasizing the importance of having a conversation with the space she works with to overcome challenges. “There are so many things that were in the other shop that we so mixed and muddled up, and now we have space to breathe and you can actually focus on things.” Could this mean the growing collection of owls on display?

 

A shadow is cast artfully over a hanger with three owls atop, with newspaper print textiles hanging off the hooks.

Watchful owls pop up all over House of MinaLima.

 

“We’ve been collecting them for a while,” Mina admitted, indicating the top of the shelves where they are perched, but only half of them.

We were saying the other day, ‘Oh, no, they’re going to have to go all the way there,’ so we wondered whether we should invite people to bring an owl. Not that I’m asking for presents, but our old and loyal customers, if they’re traveling from abroad or something, maybe they can bring us an owl and it will go up.

You heard it here first: Donate an owl to MinaLima!

On top of the move, the team has been busy with lockdown projects, from postcards to the Blocketeering contest. “It was so nice to sit down and be creative and buy myself a new printer,” Mina said about the Hogwarts at Home print released last month. “It was like, ‘What can we do at home?’ It was before we could even go back to our print studio.”

While we can’t reveal any spoilers, MinaLima’s illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, out next month, was a serendipitous coming home to where the story began. “Home” is the magic word, as Mina adds: “There is no coincidence that we called it House of MinaLima at the beginning, because we wanted it to feel like a home in all the different senses.” The gallery has truly reminded us that Hogwarts is our home.

 

 

Full Transcript with Miraphora Mina, Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Transcribed by Marissa Osman

Dora Bodrogi: Thank you for inviting us. This is amazing.

Miraphora Mina: Oh, I'm so glad you like it.

Dora: I've been to the Greek Street address, and it was charming but a bit crammed. So I'm almost speechless. So this lockdown period has been a bit weird for everyone, especially in the entertainment and art industry. Were you always going to move, or was that just something you thought you'd do during the lockdown now that you can.

Miraphora: Well, it's a combination of circumstances. We were looking for a building where we could have our studio and a shop in one building. The idea was to keep Greek Street because it was so successful and everyone loved it, and maybe trial a new thing here. So maybe to develop our other work here, to keep them separate. And then lockdown happened, and for various reasons - like you said - there's no way we could have continued to operate in the restricted spaces with all the challenges of staffing a multi-floor building. Without being gloomy, there was some very dark challenges to stay there. So we very rapidly, I think, we were at the thing of like, "Either we just shut everything down, or do we keep the momentum going and just try our best to reinvent ourselves in a way?" We also knew that if we moved, we were very nervous to not be able to keep that spirit of what we'd achieved at Greek Street. So we've got all the best things to try and evolve rather than try and recreate inch by inch. So my analogy is the Greek Street address is like the child and this is the grownup. This is the lady.

[Dora and Miraphora laugh]

Miraphora: You know, the architecture is different. You always feel like you have a conversation with a space, and it starts to tell you. When we first moved here it was like an office. So these two floors that we're on now, it was brown carpet tiles and neon ceiling. It took a while even for me to fall in love with the building, but once we started to paint and design the fittings...

Dora: Yeah, this is really cool.

Miraphora: ...try and create a new energy for it, but still at the core of it was to have the theater of retail rather than just a shop. Strangely, actually, this is the same square footage as Greek Street; it's just distributed differently so it works better. So whilst we have the four floors piled up like that, it feels bigger but actually, it's similar. I think it's been really nice having the gallery as a defined space and the shop area as a defined space.

Dora: I have to ask you about the owls. Have you been collecting them yourself?

Miraphora: We've been collecting them for a while. There's so many things like I was saying, things develop organically. When you've been here for the last six weeks you have all the plans and all the drawings for how it's going to be, but as you're in a space you start to go, "Oh, actually this space is telling me this or that," so there were loads of things that were here that were in the other shop that were muddled up and now we've got space to breathe. I think you can actually focus on things. And we were saying the other day, "Oh, no, they're going to have to go all the way along there." We wondered whether we should invite people to bring an owl.

[Everyone laughs]

Miraphora: Not that I'm asking for presents, but. [laughs] Our old and loyal customers, if they come traveling from abroad or something they can bring us an owl and it will go up.

Dora: That's a headline. "Send owls!".

Miraphora: Yes! [laughs]

Lizzie Glaister: Donate an owl.

Miraphora: Donate an owl. Hanshtag.

[Dora and Miraphora laugh]

Dora: But during lockdown I think you kept our spirits up. I sent my friend one of those free cards for essential workers.

Miraphora: Aw, thank you!

Dora: She was so thrilled. She's so overworked and she was so thrilled.

Miraphora: It gave me an excuse to actually sit down, and be creative, and buy myself a new printer. [laughs] It was my partner who said, as well, "What can we do at home before we can go back to our print studio?"

Dora: That's why it was so delightful to see the new prints, as well. The Marauder's Map Hogwarts print, and then you've got the Blocketeering contest. I've got some questions. Do you think you'll be involved in the judging of the Blocketerering contest? Which closes today.

Miraphora: Oh, God. It's today? I've been so distracted with this.

Dora: You've got loads of projects!

Miraphora: It's been seven-day weeks for the last whatever. Can't remember. I think we will be contributing to that, yes. Have you submitted yours?

Dora: Oh, I haven't actually submitted anything. I'm more of a graphic designer than 3D artist. And then, without any spoilers, can you tell us anything about the process or how you're getting on with the illustrated edition of The Philosopher's Stone that's coming out next month?

Miraphora: Yeah, well, it's done!

Dora: It's done!

Miraphora: Yeah, the printers would be killing us.

Dora: We're very excited about it.

Miraphora: We are too because that was a really serendipitous journey from having been involved in everything other than the actual books. The films, the theme-parks, marketing, merchandise. You do all these things and then to be invited nearly twenty years later to the actual source material. It's really good; like coming home.

Dora: Aw.

Miraphora: And also a new challenge! Because although we designed a few books before then, that's quite a big commitment and a big ask because you guys are all so familiar with the work.

Dora: Do you think the fact that there are other illustrations already out, do you think that helped you think of something new or was that an obstruction, like, "How can I make something new out of something that everyone already knows."

Miraphora: The biggest one is our relationship with the films. I don't think there are many illustrated editions. I think there's the Jim Kay.

Dora: Yeah, Jim Kay actually tried to steer away from the movies and un-think everything.

Miraphora: Yeah. I don't think there are - I don't know if there are - any other illustrated editions. So in a way we had a bit more space, perhaps. And some of the things are so clearly defined in the writing that you... The Weasley's. What do they look like? So it was always you just steer back to... I mean, I haven't gotten to the Marauder's Map yet.

Dora: That's exciting. [laughs]

Miraphora: We don't see it, do we, until Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm slightly dreading that because it's so embedded in my head as to what it looks like.

Dora: I think everyone has the movie version in their mind.

Miraphora: Do you think?

Dora: I don't remember what I imagined before that, actually. And then finally, Fantastic Beasts is going to start shooting next month, so you're finally back after this long delay in the entertainment industry. Can you tell us anything about that?

Miraphora: [casually] No.

[Everyone laughs]

Dora: Oh, okay. Absolutely top secret.

Miraphora: I'm actually not working on it at the moment anyway. Because I'm on this. So I personally haven't been back yet, but we can't unfortunately. We're all contracted.

Dora: That's absolutely fine. You've got loads of projects for us to talk about.

Miraphora: Yeah!

Dora: Did you want to ask anything, Lizzie?

Lizzie: I was wondering about the owls. I absolutely love those. Did you find them just through charity shops, or just through stores?

Miraphora: Yeah. eBay, charity shops.

Lizzie: Oh, eBay! Good ole eBay.

Miraphora: Yeah. And the cage has been left open because obviously that's contentious.

Dora: What's your favorite part of the new space?

Miraphora: Oh, well, I have two favorite things. One is the gallery because I just love that we don't have any daylight so we can really immerse. And when you turn the lights right down, I think I would sleep down there.

[Everyone laughs]

Miraphora: Whereas I was always a bit... I had this idea to sleep at Greek Street but it freaked me out a bit. There were ghosts there. We haven't met a ghost yet here.

Dora and Lizzie: Oh really?

Miraphora: But yeah, downstairs I love the fact that it's just completely... well, the goal was for it to be immersive. I think my second favorite thing is the exterior signage. We went to a lot of trouble and worked with a fantastic signwriter to get that absolutely as it would have been. And we found out loads about this building, as well. There's pages of all the different businesses that were in here and its history, so we felt like we needed to bring a bit of that essence as well into things like the signage.

Lizzie: It's absolutely beautiful. It's overwhelmed me slightly because it's so beautiful and you've just captured Harry Potter and the magic of it, as well, and I think that's so important especially with the year we've had, to come in here and be immersed in the world and feel like your love and passion has come out.

Miraphora: It means a lot to hear that; I'm going to start crying. I'm so tired.

[Everyone laughs]

Miraphora: No, it means a lot. Because if you guys feel it, that's what we're aiming for, is to have that conversation - that dialogue - with the fans. That we're all speaking the same language.

Lizzie: You can definitely feel how much love you've put into it as well, and that's what I loved about your old shop as well. I think I spent two hours just talking to somebody because everyone was so welcoming and again, it's the same feeling you've brought from Greek Street to here. As a massive Harry Potter fan, it's nice to be in an immersive world that is passionate about it as well. As slightly cheesy as it may sound, thank you for doing that. Thank you.

Miraphora: No, please spread the word. Come here; hang out. There was no coincidence we called it House of MinaLima at the beginning because we wanted it to feel like a home. With all the different senses of home. For you guys to come together, but also for the creativity as well. Having our studio upstairs has been fantastic.

Dora: You call it the flagship headquarters of MinaLima, and I think that's amazing because it's all in one place and it really feels like a new home.

Miraphora: Right now someone's being creative upstairs while I can have this conversation!

[Everyone laughs]

Dora: Thank you so much.

Press Release

HOUSE OF MINALIMA OPENS IN A LANDMARK LOCATION ON
TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2020 IN LONDON’S HISTORIC SOHO

Immersive gallery and shop by graphic designers of Harry Potter films

157 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WQ
www.minalima.com

House of MinaLima: see, shop, studio
Following four successful years and over one million visitors at the Greek Street gallery-shop, MinaLima has transformed an entire four-storey townhouse on 157 Wardour Street – also in the heart of Soho – into a brand[-]new House of MinaLima.

As a flagship HQ for MinaLima founders Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the building will be home to their immersive gallery and theatrical shop as well as MinaLima’s design studio – uniting the many facets of the design duo’s creativity under one roof.

As serendipity would have it, 157 Wardour Street is an important historical landmark, and one imbued with creative enterprise. Now a celebrated creative quarter, over a hundred years ago, Soho was known as the violin-making centre of the British Isles, and Soho’s Wardour Street was its headquarters. A vivid reminder of this illustrious past is No. 157, the former shop of noted violin-maker Monsieur Georges Chanot III, and now home to MinaLima.

House of MinaLima will showcase Miraphora and Eduardo’s nineteen years of creative and award-winning collaboration in graphic design. The ground and lower-ground floors boast a spectacle of visual surprises: distinctive designs are on display and available to purchase, from MinaLima’s work on both the Harry Potter™ and [the] Fantastic Beasts™ film series to their interactive MinaLima Classics book series and illustrated Collective Nouns.

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts
House of MinaLima features iconic graphic designs from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts film series by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima – creators of the graphic universe of the films – reproduced as collectible art prints, accessories, stationery, homeware and books, all available for purchase.

As the designers of the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet and every other graphic prop in the film series, Miraphora and Eduardo have an exceptional and passionate understanding of the Wizarding World films. Each piece of artwork was originally designed on the film set at Leavesden Film Studios. With the designs being an integral part of the storytelling, MinaLima’s attention to detail is paramount in their work. Much historical research and experimentation with techniques was employed, from finding the perfect ageing effects to scanning old typefaces and peculiar surfaces to enrich their visual reference library.

Authentic film props are on display, kindly on loan from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – [T]he Making of Harry Potter, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the visual worlds of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts by examining details of the artworks as they were originally created for the films.

MinaLima Classics
MinaLima Classics, a growing collection of children’s stories, which have been enjoyed by many generations and remain some of the most beloved tales in literature, are completely reimagined by MinaLima from the outside to the pages within.

In the distinctive MinaLima style, the opulent hardcovers of the deluxe editions are debossed and gold foiled, encasing the delightfully redrawn stories. In addition to the vivid illustrations on almost every page, interactive elements throughout each book create an immersive experience for the readers, allowing them to truly become part of literature’s most treasured characters.

Each title – Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Beauty & [t]he Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Secret Garden, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through [t]he Looking-Glass, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and the upcoming The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – is complemented by a collection of limited[-]edition art prints featuring artwork from the book, available exclusively at House of MinaLima and MinaLima.com.

Collective Nouns
From A Charm of Finches to A Murder of Crows, MinaLima’s illustrated Collective Noun prints celebrate one of the joyful eccentricities of the English language through an explosion of colour and humour.

Visitors to House of MinaLima will discover much more than a gallery and shop; this enchanting building and the wonders within will offer a truly immersive experience. For any Harry Potter fan or graphic art enthusiast, it’s a must on their destination wish list!

 

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Dora Bodrogi

I am a writer, a critic, a researcher, a traveler, and a Ravenclaw through and through. My main fields of interest are representation, gender, and LGBTQ fiction, history, and censorship. Incorrigible doodler and theatre kid.