Interviewing Mildred & Duck

Mildred & Duck is a Melbourne-based graphic design and communication studio you already might have come across on Mindsparkle or elsewhere. Established by Sigiriya Brown and Daniel Smith they specialize in print design, digital and environmental media, creating solutions that communicate and connecting with people.

As a small team they enjoy the privilege of choosing their clients thoughtfully and ensuring a high level of execution no matter the scale of the project. What we especially like about Mildred & Duck's style is their very minimal design approach that removes clutter and finds the essence of each brand identity and visual language. Without further ado, here is the exclusive interview with Daniel and Sigiriya:

Thanks for taking the time today. Where does the name "Mildred & Duck" come from?

Mildred & Duck is a design studio run by us, Daniel Smith and Sigiriya Brown. After meeting at university, we continued to work on jobs together after graduation and eventually established the studio in 2010. The name Mildred & Duck comes from some names we used to call each other back then, we can barely even remember why now… but as the studio was just the two of us it seemed like a fitting name. Now our studio has grown and we work across a variety of sectors with a range of clients, from startups to established organisations, and feel lucky to spend our time doing what we do. 

What are the 3 things one should know about Mildred & Duck? 

1. Our favourite vegetable is eggplant. We love the colour too (so much so we’re thinking of getting some aubergine coloured business cards for ourselves soon)! 
2. We do a crossword once a week. We’re really terrible at crosswords, but are hoping that with some practice we might be able to finish one without cheating some day! 
3. Lots of the props and textured backgrounds in our folio photos came from the rubbish. In the building where our studio is, there’s a communal rubbish area that we have a look through every now and then, and often find some really interesting things!

Written by:
Filip Triner

07.03 2018

Where do you find inspiration and how come your style is so minimal yet bold?

We wouldn’t describe ourselves as minimalists, at all, but in general we definitely shy away from clutter and unnecessary things. We’ve never really sought to develop a specific style, but this probably comes through in our work, unintentionally, as we are always trying to distill things down to essential elements.  We are both really interested in architecture and interior design, along with product and object design, and  we take a lot of inspiration from things like colours and textures used in these industries. 

What clients are the best to work with? What is the one project that you are still waiting for?

The best clients are those who really trust us, which is something we take seriously and treat as a privilege. Those client relationships generally make for the best outcomes. As for ideal future projects, we’d like to continue to work for clients across different industries; a wine label would be interesting, we’d love to work with a jeweller, and hospitality jobs are always creatively rewarding… we’re really up for most things. 

What is an absurd habit or unusual thing that you love? 

We love lamps! Although maybe that’s not so unusual, maybe it’s more unusual that we have so many of them.

Are you purely focused on client work or are there "side projects“ you are running or planning?

We don’t really make a distinction between “love jobs” and “money jobs” and we try to make every project we work on as enjoyable and creatively stimulating as a side project would be. This allows us to bring all of our enthusiasm to the jobs Mildred & Duck produce. 

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned over the years while running Mildred & Duck?

We’re lucky to be in a position to be able to be selective about what projects we work on, and one key thing we have learnt whilst running the studio is to choose to work with clients that have similar values and build on the relationship from there. 

"The best clients are those who really trust us, which is something we take seriously and treat as a privilege. Those client relationships generally make for the best outcomes."

If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another person, who would it be?

We’d probably have to go with Charles and Ray Eames. Mostly because we love the idea of waking up in Eames House (Case Study House No. 8) and spending the day there surrounded by all of their designs!

What purchase of 100 USD or less have most positively impacted your life in last 6 months recent memory?

We recently got a little fan from Muji. We love Muji, and like everything else they make it is simple and uncomplicated (and pretty good looking too!).

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it what would it be an why?

We would commission artist Kay Rosen to create a piece for the site. With so much advertising around already, we’d like to give people a little break from this visual noise and a chance to engage differently with the environment. 

What advice would you give a talented design student about to enter the real world? What advice should they ignore?

Don’t be afraid to make your folio a bit more unique, it should reflect your aesthetic and personality. Be open-minded, take risks. And use spellcheck. 

Thank you  for your time and answering all of our questions. If you enjoyed this interview, please let us know via Twitter. You will find Mildred & Duck online at ; they are also active on Instagram.

Credits: Mildred & Duck

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