20 Years of MinaLima: Beyond the Wizarding World

This weekend, we’re celebrating 20 years of the wonderfully magical MinaLima, the duo responsible for bringing the Wizarding World to life through graphic design.

For this series of articles celebrating this milestone, MuggleNet grabbed a butterbeer with Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina to revisit the last two decades. In Part 2, we explore the duo’s work beyond the Wizarding World franchise, including the Collective Nouns collection, graphic props for films such as The Imitation Game, and the MinaLima Classics Collection.

 

Collective Nouns

Shortly after finishing work on the Potter films and setting up their design company, Eduardo and Mira embarked on a collection in which they were both client and designer. Between finishing on Potter at Leavesden Studios in March 2010 and finding their first office space in August, they created Collective Nouns, a collection celebrating the fun and creativity of the English language. Eduardo explains their inspirations:

And I think that was the best thing for our mental health. Not ten years of work and it’s a major franchise, no. It just needed to be a bit crazy and colorful and not have to worry too much.

With the help of some friends, Eduardo and Mira set up a small print studio, and the Collective Nouns collection was born. The collection started with an alphabet of the collective nouns for animals and has since expanded to include astrology (a constellation of stars), birds (such as a charm of finches), and professions (such as a band of musicians). MuggleNet asked what the collective noun for a group of MinaLima fans is, and we were told to watch this space.

 

 

Collective Nouns opened up MinaLima’s work to another audience outside of fans of the Wizarding World, as Eduardo explains.

So what happens is, it becomes a conversation with lots of different new people [who] were coming to us not because of Harry Potter. Because of course we love Harry Potter, and it’s a huge presence in our life – and will be forever – and we want to cherish that relationship forever; however, we are not only Harry Potter. It was fresh to have these other people coming to us.

This collection was also Eduardo and Mira’s first foray into the world of printing to order, as Mira explains. The project eventually set up shop in Mira’s garden shed with a printer the size of an upright piano.

No one taught us how to set that up, but we were like, ‘That seems like a good business model to print to order.’ We’ve got 52 – originally 52 to 100 – designs. We ended up having two alphabets. If nobody buys the spider one, that’s fine. We’ve done the design, but we won’t print it until someone orders it.

 

Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina pose in front of their Collective Nouns Collection

 

It turns out that the experience the pair gained with printing to order through Collective Nouns enabled MinaLima to take a very special proposition to Warner Bros.

It felt shameless to get on a flight, go to Burbank, and say, ‘Warner Bros., we want to do this but with Harry Potter.’ We thought that they would say, ‘No, are you joking?’

Ten years later, we know that Warner Bros. was very much on board with the idea!

 

Work on the Silver Screen

In addition to developing the graphic universe for the Wizarding World, MinaLima has worked on several other films to establish the visual language for each story. These include the family fantasy The Golden Compass, the musical horror Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and The Legend of Tarzan, directed by Potter and Fantastic Beasts director David Yates. One of their non-Wizarding World movies was 2014’s The Imitation Game, which saw MinaLima take on the challenge of helping tell a true story, as both Mira and Eduardo spoke to.

It was definitely attractive to be able to tell it [and] to be part of the telling of a very important story that wasn’t very known. So I think that did speak to our souls and our hearts before thinking about how interesting it might be to do as a graphic project. I think for Eduardo, particularly, the gay connection and putting things right.

It’s so upsetting that his life was cut so short because can you imagine how much he could have helped invent it and transform the work that he did? It’s so frustrating. It’s so infuriating, actually, because of him being gay and he had to go through that horrible… Yeah, it’s horrible.

For the movie, Eduardo and Mira worked to create graphic props that conveyed and reflected the work of real people during the Second World War. However, according to Mira, they didn’t approach the design process any differently from their work on any other films.

To us, to be honest, it’s exactly the same process and engagement with story. Because after all, when we’re doing fantasy, for us, the whole point is presenting a reality to the audience. So actually, our role in storytelling is exactly the same whether we’re trying to re-create an encrypted document that we didn’t really know exactly what it looked like but we wanted to tell that story to make it believable to the audience or whether we’re giving you a wizard newspaper because we need you to believe that that is real in this world.

 

A still from "The Imitation Game" picturing Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing face a wall of sketches and design (designed by MinaLima).

Benedict Cumberbatch, as Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game,” facing a wall of diagrams and sketches designed by MinaLima.

 

MinaLima’s signature attention to detail was present throughout this production. Among the graphic props needed for The Imitation Game were documents of encrypted and decrypted code. To research for this project, Eduardo and Mira visited the archives at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom (where the 1940s code breakers depicted in the movie worked). They learned about the process of code breaking to understand what a document would look like by the time it reached the end of the process. Mira and Eduardo share what they know:

We always need to start with a real order and a kind of logic. […] ‘Okay, so this piece of paper would have started on this desk and this person only knew this map. Then it would go to that desk, and this extra bit of information would be added. And then somebody would put a crayon around that bit. We had to create an order in our own heads.’

As you know, we are very detailed, and we made sure to find a paper that was similar to what they used at the time. We knew at that time that [the] Second World War [was happening]. Everything was so bad. You don’t have enough paper, so you have to use every single corner of the page. We did that with all the documents and stuff.

 

Two graphic props designed by MinaLima for "The Imitation Game."

Two graphic props designed by MinaLima for “The Imitation Game”

 

Scenes for movies are often filmed out of order from the story, and The Imitation Game was no different. Unfortunately for MinaLima, the schedule for The Imitation Game placed the final scene, in which secret documents and files are burned in a bonfire, early on in the shoot. Mira and Eduardo explain the consequences:

On the schedule, [it] was put in the first week of shooting. We had to do the burnt stuff before we saw unburnt stuff, so it’s two of everything.

You could not just come with blank paper because we didn’t know how the scene was going to be shot. You might see some notations, so we had to create it the same way we created the papers for later.

While Eduardo and Mira let go of props after creating them, knowing that whether or not they make it on-screen is beyond their control, it can’t have been fun to see the bonfire on the schedule for the first week of filming.

Beyond working for the silver screen, over the past six years, Eduardo and Mira have taken the visual art of storytelling from the screen to the page.

 

MinaLima Classics Collection

The MinaLima Classics Collection started in 2015 in partnership with publishers HarperCollins. Beloved tales have been brought to life across seven books, with the eighth, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, set to be published this year. For Mira, this collection is not only about fulfilling a love for storytelling but also about challenging approaches to designing and illustrating.

It was a little bit like, ‘Okay, we feel quite confident and comfortable in designing props for a film story. What would it be like if we were asked to do props within a book?’ If a story had to have the letters and the maps and the indicators that drive the story, what would they be and how would you get them just to stay within this format rather than on-screen? It was like setting ourselves a new challenge.

 
A collage of images showing "Peter Pan" from the MinaLima Classics Colleciton

 

Peter Pan was the first in the collection, followed by The Jungle Book in 2016 and The Beauty and the Beast in 2017. These books keep the design within the universe of each story. Mira explained that rather than thinking of how they should design Peter Pan, they asked instead, “What would a book in Peter’s world look like?”

We always try to plant a key into things, and for us, it was, ‘What would a book be like if it was in Wendy’s bedroom?’ So it’s not a book about Peter Pan, but it’s a book from ‘Peter Pan.’ So you’ll see in your copy there that the treatment, from the cover design to the endpapers to even the pages themselves, we’ve actually put a fake aging on things. So everything feels like it’s in-world, and that’s really the kind of mandate that we set for ‘Peter Pan,’ and then it rolled on to all of them and seemed to work.

The Little Mermaid and Other Fairytales, The Secret Garden, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass all followed in 2018. The Adventures of Pinocchio was published in 2020 and took the in-universe design approach to the next level by adopting woodblock printing and carved style illustrations throughout the book.

 

 

Reflecting on the MinaLima Classics Collection to date, it would surprise no one to know that work has begun on the ninth book in the collection. While the title and story are still under wraps, says Eduardo, we do know is that it will bring them closer to the 12 books they suggested to HarperCollins at the beginning of the project.

Again, it’s all about storytelling. If the storytelling is compelling and fun, that is what drives us to do those books. And talking to HarperCollins, we said, as a joke, ‘Oh, okay. Let’s start with this collection of maybe 12 books.’ […] We already started on Book 9, but we can’t say just yet what the title is.

Helping tell other people’s stories through visual design, whether on the page or on-screen, has been a passion for MinaLima over the past 20 years. Going forward, Eduardo and Mira want to take the next steps to bring original stories to life, as Eduardo explains:

I think with that collection, after doing nine books now, I think we feel that we are ready to tell our own stories. So that is where MinaLima will be focusing our time and energy in the next year or two. It’s where we’re going to start creating our own worlds and our own characters and our own crazy stories. […] [After] working the last seven years on those books, it’s now time for us to tell our own story. We are ready.

Come back tomorrow for the final installment of our MinaLima miniseries, when we will look back on the story of House of MinaLima, heartwarming interactions with fans, and the impact of MinaLima on the Muggle world.

Full Transcript with Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina, Thursday, July 1, 2021

Transcribed by Adam Leuenberger and Marissa Osman

Lucy O'Shea: I can see some things on the wall behind you that allude to some of the things we're going to talk about today. One thing I did want to touch on, particularly in this second part, is some of the works that our readers might not know that you're involved in. So films like The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, and Legend of Tarzan. But in particular, I'm interested in The Imitation Game, because that's real people and a very recognizable time period. The rest and Potter are very much fantasy, almost, aren't they? So what drew you to that project?

Miraphora Mina: It's always story that's [unintelligible], and whilst I'd love to say we have the power to choose what we want to do, sometimes we don't. We just need to work. But actually, in that instance, it was the story. It was definitely attractive to be able to tell it [and] to be part of the telling of a very important story that wasn't very known. So I think that did speak to our souls and our hearts before thinking about how interesting it might be to do as a graphic project. I think for Eduardo, particularly, the gay connection and putting things right. So there was definitely [an] appeal to do a smaller indie - what seemed like an indie - film at the time. Whilst you said at the beginning it's so different from doing fiction rather than a factual film. To us, to be honest, it's exactly the same process and engagement with story. Because after all, when we're doing fantasy, for us, the whole point is presenting a reality to the audience. So actually, our role in storytelling is exactly the same whether we're trying to re-create an encrypted document that we didn't really know exactly what it looked like but we wanted to tell that story to make it believable to the audience or whether we're giving you a wizard newspaper because we need you to believe that that is real in this world. I hadn't really thought about it like that, but it is the case. Our job is to really believe in both as much as each other, and certainly for The Imitation Game. There was quite a lot of material at Bletchley Park, but some of the really nuanced detailed stuff didn't exist.

Eduardo Lima: And then it was quite good with the research we did, and how we managed to do the proper thing with what Bletchley Park told us. We joined the dots. As you know, we are very detailed and we made sure to find a paper that was similar to what they used at the time. We knew at that time that [the] Second World War [was happening]. Everything was so bad. You don't have enough paper, so you have to use every single corner of the pixel. We did that with all the documents and stuff. Remember we had to put like, thousands of [unintelligible] and that one was something in the notes and. [laughs]

Miraphora: But we don't want to face things with anything that looks chaotic in the story, whether it's fact or fiction. We always need to start with a real order and a kind of logic. So we did have to come up with a... "Okay, so this piece of paper would have started on this desk and this person only knew this map. Then it would go to that desk, and this extra bit of information would be added. And then somebody would put a crayon around that bit. We had to create an order in our own heads in order to..."

Eduardo: To try to re-create that, it's based on the open secrets of the film. I think you follow not someone, [but] a document. It's some coding and you follow that document. So that was the journey that we had to try to re-create.

Miraphora: I think where we did have to go a little bit more free was in Turing's annotations that were covering his walls. We were talking about Snape the other day. If you've got to manifest someone's thought process on a piece of paper, or in a book, or if you've got a flash of screen time to help describe his character and personality through his objects, or her objects. Those two things spring to mind because we obviously knew what was going on in the story but what happens on the walls of the house that that person's been living in for a long time can help quickly tell the audience the type of person that we're... We did have access to quite a lot of his actual sketches and thinking, which of course we didn't understand because, to us, it was just a lot of very interesting markings. That's the thing with film research is that you can only scratch the surface and try and get the essence of a situation. Because you just don't have enough time usually, but we were able to be inspired by those markings that he made, and then the brief was just, "Fill his walls with notations." Very, very analog. And so it almost becomes a thing of beauty. But you need to find the right balance, actually, and not get too carried away with the thing of beauty, and try to tell the story.

Lucy: So you didn't get too into re-creating Alan Turing's voice. It was your interpretation of what he was saying?

Miraphora: He published quite a few of his notes and drawings illustrating the thought process.

Eduardo: He had a love for leaves, remember?

Miraphora: Yeah, that's true. Actually, we did collect a lot of... We mixed it with actual nature and plants. And also that whole thing of just the wall [being] a vehicle for his thinking. So the house... he just didn't care.

Eduardo: It's so upsetting that his life was cut so short because can you imagine how much he could have helped invent it, and transform the work that he did. It's so frustrating. It's so infuriating, actually, because of him being gay and he had to go through that horrible... Yeah, it's horrible.

Lucy: Yeah, it's heartbreaking. You know, this year, Alan Turing's on the 50-pound note and you think, "It's been a long time. Why wasn't he on the 50-pound note sooner?" And the ending of the story always gets me when they're burning everything on the bonfire, and hopefully, that wasn't too painful for you. I know you said you said previously you had to let it go.

Miraphora: Because they decided on the schedule... I don't know if you know when you're filming, it's not chronological to the story. So that, on the schedule, was put in the first week of shooting. We had to do the burnt stuff before we saw unburnt stuff, so it's two of everything.

Eduardo: You could not just come with blank paper because we didn't know how the scene was going to be shot. You might see some notations, so we had to create it the same way we created the papers for later, before. And of course, The Imitation Game was not a huge production like Harry Potter [where] we had the facility and the luxury of having more people helping. And even money; we had a very high budget and [a lot of] time as well. So it was different. A challenge.

Lucy: Now I'll watch that scene differently, again. There'll be an added layer of heartbreak knowing that's what was going on behind the scenes. Great, thank you. So just to move on to some of your other work that's not on the screen. You've obviously done your Collective Nouns Collection and the Classics Collection. Collective Nouns was your first post-Potter collection, wasn't it? And Mira, there's a quote that's on the MinaLima Twitter at the moment where you describe it as the strange quirks of the English language. How did that collection come about?

Miraphora: Well, actually, like a lot of things, it was kind of a bit of a joke, or a laugh, where if you do it a little bit too much, it suddenly grows roots and becomes real. We were chatting with the old school friend, actually, about how she and her partner and [ourselves] wanted to do something that was our own. This own creative statement. And she was saying how brilliant those collective nouns were and what would be the best way to give it life. So as soon as we started talking about it, I was like, "Well, it's really obvious." What we would be doing is working with words and stories, but this is just like the short film of the [unintelligible]. If we were to have all these little bite-sized versions, how would we tell them? So we very quickly became the client and the creator which gave us massive freedom, because nobody was binding us to a budget or a deadline. Obviously, it was a bit of a risk.

Eduardo: And that was straight after the last Potter film. We finished around March and we found the first MinaLima office in Goodge Place in August. And while we were looking for an office, we were creating the product. And I think that was the best thing for our mental health. Not 10 years of work and it's a major franchise, no. It just needed to a bit crazy and colorful and not have to worry too much.

Miraphora: I mean, it wasn't a very good economic decision, because obviously, no one was commissioning us to do it. But like so many decisions in our 20 years of business together, it just felt like it was the right thing to do. It was quite a simple brief. We said, "Why don't we do an alphabet to start with?" So the Collective Nouns can cover A to Zed of the of these animals. Quite quickly we were up and running with these friends to get a small print studio going, a very simple website, and a little bit of marketing. We were quite lucky, we had some good press at the beginning and we did a little exhibition just around the corner.

Eduardo: Chronicle Books - from the U.S. - saw us and they said, "Oh, we want to do books." We did three books. Two books and a set of flashcards. That was quite successful.

Miraphora: In a way, it was sort of [our] first dabblings in publishing, but also understanding the mechanics of how can you print to order? How can you print stuff that you really love? A good quality, a very high quality, but that that was within our means? There are some great digital printers. We could get the colors that we wanted, and so we didn't really have any... No one taught us how to set that up, but we were like, "That seems like a good business model to print to order." We've got 52 - originally 52 to 100 - designs. We ended up having two alphabets. If nobody buys the spider one, that's fine. We've done the design, but we won't print it until someone orders it. It started off with the friends, and eventually [moved to] my back garden in the shed. And it was because of that that we then felt enabled too...

Eduardo: It felt shameless to get on a flight, go to Burbank, and say, "Warner Bros., we want to do this but with Harry Potter. We thought that they would say, "No, are you joking? You guys go back to the film industry, go back to the studio." They said straight away, "Absolutely, yes. We love your proposal." And after that, we were like, "Okay." Of course, the Warner Bros. contract is huge and legal and all that stuff. One thing that is very constant in our lives - our careers - is that we don't know how to do that

Miraphora: It can't be that difficult. [laughs] I mean, it's not like we're not trying to find a cure for the common cold. [We just wanted to] buy a printer and have a go. Sometimes it's the naivete that that thrusts you into getting started. Once you know a lot, that's what holds you back.

Eduardo: But it always goes back to having two [of us]. You share the worries, you share everything. And also having two [sets of] hands. I'm not sure if I would be courageous enough to do everything on my own if I could have, without Mira.

Miraphora: And my garden shed.

[Everyone laughs]

Lucy: That's all anyone needs.

Miraphora: You were like, "Okay, we've got this thing that's the size of an upright piano, a printer, and we needed some space. Where are we going to put it?" Because the studio that we had just hired didn't have space. And you were like, "I'm really sorry, it's gonna have to be your garden shed." I was like, "Well, my son's using it as a music room, but yeah let's give that a go." Sometimes you need those little stepping stones to stand on while all the chaos is going around, and then [you can] jump to a bigger one.

Eduardo: So what happens is it becomes a conversation with lots of different new people that were coming to us because of Harry Potter. Because of course we love Harry Potter, and it's a huge presence in our life - and will be forever - and we want to cherish that relationship forever; however, we are not only Harry Potter. It was fresh to have these other people coming to us.

Lucy: Speaking of collective nouns, [I have] just a quick question: Do you have a collective noun for a group of MinaLima fans?

Eduardo and Miraphora: Oh!

Miraphora: That's a good one for tomorrow, isn't it?

Eduardo: We might have to think about it. Now that you said that we will just be thinking of it.

Lucy: Sorry, I didn't mean to derail your entire day. [laughs]

Miraphora: We love doing this. It's going to be something like a quirk, or an eccentricity.

Lucy: Switching to the Classics Collection, that has been going since 2015 with Peter Pan, and [The Wonderful] Wizard of Oz is coming out later this year. What's driving that for you? Is it the storytelling and getting to reimagine some of these classic tales?

Eduardo: I think it started because we, again, I think we have a fantastic relationship with Warner Brothers, and we are part of that family. And the same with Harper Collins, the publishers. Harper Collins was just like, "We just needed to find things to work with you guys all the time. We don't want you to go anywhere. We want to keep you around, so let's brainstorm what we can do together." And those stories are ones we absolutely love. And why not?

Miraphora: It was a little bit like, "Okay, we feel quite confident and comfortable in designing props for a film story. What would it be like if we were asked to do props within a book? If a story had to have the letters and the maps and the indicators that drive the story, what would they be, and how would you get them just to stay within this format rather than on-screen? It was like setting ourselves a new challenge. And then very quickly, that first book with Peter Pan... We always try to plant a key into things, and for us, it was what would a book be like if it was in Wendy's bedroom? So it's not a book about Peter Pan, but it's a book from Peter Pan. So you'll see in your copy there that the treatment, from the cover design to the endpapers to even the pages themselves, we've actually put a fake aging on things. So everything feels like it's in-world, and that's really the kind of mandate that we set for Peter Pan, and then it rolled on to all of them and seemed to work.

Eduardo: Again, it's all about storytelling. If the storytelling is compelling and fun, that is what drives us to do those books. And talking to Harper Collins, we said, as a joke, "Oh, okay. Let's start with this collection of maybe 12 books."

Miraphora: I must say, I thought you were exaggerating when you said that, but we are on eight suddenly. How did that happen?

Eduardo: We already started on book nine, but we can't say just yet what the title is. But we are already starting with book nine. And doing those books now, I think your next would be, "What's next? What're the next 20 years?" I think with that collection, after doing nine books now, I think we feel that we are ready to tell our own stories. So that is where MinaLima will be focusing our time and energy in the next year or two. It's where we're gonna start creating our own worlds, and our own characters, and our own crazy stories. Not that we feel those stories [unintelligible]. [After] working the last seven years on those books, it's now time for us to tell our own story. We are ready.

Miraphora: It's partly because if you look back over the 20 years, another theme that seems to come up is that we when we feel comfortable in a medium or an area like the film design, the prints, there comes a very natural time where you think, "I need to just go a little bit deeper into the water now where my feet don't quite touch the bottom and see what happens." And I think that's really important always for creative people to keep that in the back of their minds. You know when it happens; you can't really force it to happen. But right now we're working on how also we can take those eight stories that we've done into a different medium.

Eduardo: That's something else as well. Soon we'll be working on ten.

[Everyone laughs]

Lucy: Interesting. You're saying these little things and my little feelers are going [makes a noise of recognition] to get that information.

[Everyone laughs]

Eduardo: Also because of the success of the classics, it was why the Harry Potter books happened as well. They saw that Scholastic, Bloomsbury, everyone said, "Oh! We have something special here. Should we maybe apply the same design to Harry Potter?" So the classics inspired the Harry Potter books to happen.

Lucy: And we're really glad that it did. You spoke a little bit about your first studio, first offices, and you've recently... Well, the House of MinaLima has recently moved home. How is your new place? I've not yet been to visit. But how is it? Are you enjoying the new space?

Miraphora: I think it's kind of transformed. It's like a natural... It's like we've grown up, the building's grown up. And so everyone has with it.

Eduardo: To be honest, it was refreshing to leave the old place because it was our first experience with a place. So it's like your first boyfriend or girlfriend, we always remember them with a hint of...

Miraphora: Rose-tinted.

Eduardo: So it was quite hard to say goodbye to that place because it was magical. It was when everything started, for us, to have a presence, a physical presence. And so moving here was...

Miraphora: Also, there was an avalanche of being thrust in. There's no denying that the pandemic had an effect on the decisions to move and so for various reasons, we were going to, but sometimes you look back and think, it's not always a bad thing, change because of a disaster. There are silver linings, too, and I think perhaps we would have done it eventually. We were thrust into the space, but it's enabled us to have people in here safely because the space is better laid out. But also, it's like a grown-up version. Greek Street was the playful child, and now we've got the grown-up House of MinaLima, and having the studios above all in one building is just a dream, it is.

Eduardo: We used to say before, "The old MinaLima house," but we could never say that because we were on the top floor where there were other offices and meeting rooms, two rooms, and now, here is a proper house with a painting on the side of the building. [unintelligible] The gallery assistant and the designers so they all can interact, they all know what's going on. So that is even more...

Miraphora: Synergy. Yeah, that is the word. It just is a dream come true. And we have a roof terrace. How did that happen?

Lucy: That's good.

Miraphora: When we moved here it was just a roof, but we've turned it into a garden. But yeah, the building, it's got loads of history too, which we'll go into another time. But it's got loads of connection, connecting practices. Very good ghosts here.

Lucy: Real ghosts?

Miraphora: Apparently, yeah.

Eduardo: [unintelligible]

Lucy: Ah, so stuff falls off the wall then?

Miraphora: No one's managed to knock it off the wall. But definitely, pictures moved. I would do that if I were a ghost. Definitely. Wouldn't you? You just want to go and make some marks.

Lucy: Just enough to make people think, not enough to make...

Miraphora: Don't freak anyone out or break things.

Eduardo: We always need to remember that the idea we had for House of MinaLima was an offer for three months. That was the idea; we didn't expect... How many years now? Five years?

Miraphora: Yes. June 2016.

Eduardo: Five years later, we still now have a shop here. Very long [unintelligible} in Japan. And now New York as well. And so this is all because of the people that come and remember when we were there. We said we were going to close, and [there was a] petition. Over 1,000 lovely fans signed the book and even signed it, "Please keep the House open." And they put the age, where they come from, and their [Hogwarts] House.

Miraphora: We didn't invite them by the way, that was just initiated in the visitor's book.

Lucy: Well, that's because I think people feel such a connection, particularly when they can go into physical space. And if we were talking yesterday about young people and being able to get that exposure to art and design. These premises are really important.

Eduardo: That was one of the things that we identified early. Loads of young people were going there. And the House was kind of messy but also was like an exhibition of our work. So for those people, going to the House of MinaLima was their first experience going to a gallery or exhibition. And that, again, together with the messages we get - that they become graphic designers because of it - it makes us cry.

Miraphora: A little side note to that, sorry, is that I think from a commercial retail perspective, post-pandemic, there is going to be demand for something a bit more than a shop, as we knew in the past. So we do feel blessed that we made those decisions early on to offer more than then shelves with products on them.

Eduardo: It's very rewarding for the High Streets because [unintelligible] all the shops as well. That will be weird.

Miraphora: What the pandemic proved, was that online works well. And people are comfy with that. And so if they are then to get them back, you need to offer them something more.

Eduardo: But at the same time, I read an article saying that all these online, digital, even people buying things, it's not helping their mental health. Because what has become very clear with the pandemic is that we need more human connections. If the human connection is removed, [that] is where we all start to get crazy. Even if they say that they don't like people, it's not true. You like people, of course, not all the people, some people you like, and you need to have that.

Miraphora: Actually [unintelligible] just as I was on the way in, she was talking on the radio about kindness in the future of the High Street, and shopping is about kindness. And obviously, that means giving back to the environment as well as people but...

Eduardo: But kindness should be the first stop on everything. We should be kind in everything we do. There's no reason for you not to be kind and nice.

Lucy: I visited your previous shop in Greek Street, and when you walked in, it felt kind, and welcoming, and warm. So that's what you're talking about, you need that form of retail experience if we do want to call it that. You spoke a bit about your shops in Japan and in New York. Anywhere else you want to go in the next 20 years? If you can, you know, anywhere in the world?

Miraphora: We'd like to go well, I think you'd probably...

Eduardo: I need to go to Brazil! People say, `'London's fine because you live there. Japan? What the hell? What is the connection with? And now New York? Come on, what's wrong with [unintelligible].`" And yes, the dream is... It would be nice if we could have a little spot everywhere. That would be fantastic and because we have our [unintelligible]. When you want to have something in the U.K. and when you're going to have something in France, and Germany, and Korea, and China, so...

Miraphora: That the original plan was limited-edition prints. So that is a lesson. So, somehow, we're constantly having to figure out how best to keep delivering.

Eduardo: And the first time we went to Japan, oh my God. That was [the cause of] pints and pints of tears because of the amount of love and affection that we received from the Japanese. Well, of course, we received from everywhere, but I think in Japan was a little bit more special because of the language area and the culture as well. It's a bit different for us.

Miraphora: We felt blessed that we've been invited, but I think they felt some strange respect that someone who traveled across the world to bring them something that they all knew about already, so we were [all] mad [with] mutual admiration. Have you been?

Lucy: No, I've not been, but I know that Potter fandom is very strong in Japan.

Eduardo: But Japanese people know. As a rule, they are so polite, they're so respectful, and that was a shock to see that everyone there behaves that way. And we said, why is the world not like that? If you have rubbish in Japan, they take the rubbish at home; there are no bins in the street because you have to [deal] with your rubbish at home. So those kinds of things that we're so behind [on]. But at the same time, they have other issues as well. And worse stuff. But anyway, regardless of that. And opening in New York as well. And opening in New York as well. What we have been hearing from people there is that the MinaLima bit is the cherry on the cake. Kelly, our MinaLima ambassador in the US, is [an] amazing employee now, and she said that people know that MinaLima is in the basement, so they do everything [else] in the shop and they [save] House of MinaLima for last because it’s where they’re going to go and breathe and have a rest." So it's been very long. Yeah, fantastic to know that it's been successful as well. [We] haven't been there yet. So we are dying to go there. As soon as we can go, we will go there to take a look.

Lucy: That kind of ties into what we talked about a bit yesterday, about your interactions with fans. And over the years, the pair of you've been so generous and so kind towards fans. Do you have any standout moments - or memorable moments - of fan interaction, cons or events, or that kind of thing? That just sticks out in your mind, and you think, "Wow, 20 years ago, when I was sat there, you know, doing my job? I had no idea that this was coming."

Eduardo: I think when we did the first two Celebrations of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. That was weird in some ways because we get embarrassed as well. We were explaining and people were like, "Did you design that?" So we had to explain a little bit. But from the third year until the last, something completely changed and we were not even allowed to be in our stand because people were queuing and waiting to see us.

Miraphora: Did you go to it?

Lucy: No, I've never been to Celebration.

Miraphora: What was lovely over that time is that we've got some stalwart MinaLima fans that went to every one of them, [and] made sure they bought every print that we did for that.

Miraphora: Some people write us, and there's some that we just communicate regularly with, or they come in and see us regularly. And so there's this real loyalty both ways. And that happened by meeting people in person; you can't do that online, I don't think.

Eduardo: I remember as well, of course, an official request to make calls. People were coming to us and said, "Oh my God, you guys. You don't realize how much the Marauder's Map or how much the Daily Prophet or The Quibbler or whatever is important." And we were like, "How?" And of course, we understand completely now. But at the time we were like, "It's just a prop. It's just a piece of paper we age with..."

Miraphora: And not to mention all of the interpretations of our work on people's bodies, like dressing up, and the tattoos are kind of alarming sometimes. I mean, as a parent, I was like, "No, that was intended to be across the whole of your torso." But you know, that's amazing.

Eduardo: But as we said yesterday, we adore and love talking to people and [having] those conversations because, again, it goes back to the human relationships, and it makes sense, and you feel blessed and that you made someone smile with one little prop that you did. That is priceless, actually.

Lucy: Yeah, I can only imagine what that must be like to be confronted with someone who does have your designs up their arm or something. I imagine it's both special and a little bit unnerving, maybe. My final question for you both is, we've been having this conversation because it's 20 years of MinaLima. If you could send a message to 20-year-old Mira and 20-year-old Eduardo, what would you tell them about this entire thing?

Miraphora: I love the way she thinks we're forty. [laughs]

Eduardo: It's funny, just because I just arrived from my [unintelligible]. And there we were talking, and [it] led us [to] the same questions. So looking back, "What you just like to say to your young Eduardo in Brazil, [from a] little town?

Miraphora: And what would you say?

Eduardo: I would say, "Well done mate." As I said yesterday, I still sometimes don't believe that from the little town in the middle of Brazil, I'm here in the biggest franchise in the world, and part of MinaLima, and part of whatever we're going to create for the next 20 years with our own original story. I feel very proud of actually.

Miraphora: If you were looking back to your 20-year-old self that might have had some doubts, what would you say?

Eduardo: "Oh, don't have it. Just keep going." [unintelligible] I don't come from a rich, wealthy family. So I have to work hard. And so if you work hard, if you have a dream, just put everything you have on it, and go for it.

Miraphora: And don't ever make it a Plan B. I have to say that. I don't think I was lucky not to be brought up in that environment. But I would say [to] the 20-year-old, "Make everything that you love doing your Plan A." Just because it doesn't fit into some molds of your careers advice at school and stuff... Just make it Plan A, and then the things you love will probably become successful. And then the successful things become things you love.

Eduardo: What's funny [is] when I said to my [unintelligible] I said, "Oh, you did quite well." And she said, "Quite well? Quite. Well. Remove the 'quite.'" Just go in there and give a big hug to your [unintelligible] and she even said, "Well done."

Lucy: Great. Well, thank you guys so much. And I know there'll be lots of people who will need to hear those words that you've just said as well, whether they're 20 or not. Maybe they need to hear those words. Thank you both for sharing, and thank you for giving up your time for these interviews.

Miraphora: No, thank you for supporting us and sharing, being the conduit to the voice.

 

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Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!

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