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 03 Apr 2014

Interior designer Mia Feasey is the founder and leader of a company on the up. Is there something unusual about Siren Design that might have something to do with its success?

Perhaps it was planned or perhaps it’s happenstance but one of the first things you notice about Siren Design – headquartered in an old bond store on the western edge of Sydney’s CBD – is that it’s an outfit made up entirely of women. Given the firm’s name, you have to suspect the former. But then, as principal Mia Feasey points out, her team does in fact have one male member. He just wasn’t there when Boiling Point dropped in to visit.

“Most interior designers in Australia are women,” explains Mia. “Ninety percent of graduates are female, it’s the pool of talent I have to pick from.” Siren specialise in commercial, hospitality and retail design. Clients include NAB, ANZ, AGL and Accenture. The company’s just finished fitting out the Florida Beach Bar at Crowne Plaza Hotel at Terrigal on NSW’s Central Coast. They’re also currently designing a “little cocktail bar” in Potts Point and the company has recently been commissioned to design the corporate interiors for Bendon Bras.

“We have a reputation for doing sexy corporate,” says Mia. “We do a lot of advertising agencies. We’ve just won an award for Tongue [an advertising/PR agency].”

Mia built Siren from scratch. Hailing originally from the UK and with a background in textiles, she moved to Australia when she was 21. “I didn’t have a network and I didn’t have any money,” she admits and was working as a waitress until she landed a part-time job in the library at Geyer Design. “I worked my way up to junior designer level in about two or three years.” She then started doing private work, moved to an architectural firm working on commercial interiors, and then formed a partnership with a builder doing Design and Construct (D&C) projects for a further four years.

“I felt that D&C was more about sales than it was about design,” she admits. “But it was great. I learnt a lot, learnt how to work to budgets, I learnt how to work with builders. I still do a lot of D&C but it’s on my terms now. It’s all transparent, it’s a turn key solution, but I get to pick the builder depending on the client and the job.”

Siren was established six years ago and “We’ve grown up to 12 staff now, which is enough,” she says. Certainly enough for now because, as Mia adds, she has two small children keeping her busy. It hasn’t stopped her from achieving professionally though – in 2010 she was named the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) Businesswoman of the Year.

Mia Feasy and Zip

Mia and her husband share an inner-city apartment and life’s been made a little easier thanks to a certain piece of kitchen equipment she discovered in her professional life – the Zip HydroTap. Mia was already an unabashed fan having specified them in “Pretty much every office we design,” she says.

“They’re functional, compact, there’s lots of different options; they’re brilliant.”
At home Mia admits to loving a regular and restorative cup of tea, but the couple are also bottle-feeding a baby – which ties up the use of the kettle. As she explains: “You can’t boil the kettle because you need the sterile water ready [to mix up the baby formula]. It’s awesome because it means I can always have a cup of tea and there is always sterile water for the baby [that’s ready cooled in the kettle].” Her husband meanwhile likes to drink cold water, so the unit’s chilled/filtered water function means there’s more room in their apartment’s small fridge. “It’s a big thing,” she laughs, “I was so excited about the Zip in my house!”

“They work really well, they’re functional, they’re compact, there’s lots of different options; they’re brilliant. As far as I’m concerned it’s an essential item in an office now. I wouldn’t even think of designing an office without one.”

Nor, it seems, would she now ever consider doing without one in her own home.

"Article taken from Boiling Point issue no. 18, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific."