Graphic Design Career Profile: Dan Simmons' Mimosa Creative

Graphic Design Career Profile: Dan Simmons' Mimosa Creative

Dan Simmons is the creative director and co-founder of Mimosa Creative, a boutique graphic design agency that's small but "big on ideas". Simmons started the agency three years ago with Ginny Tan, a fellow graduate of AUT's Bachelor of Art and Design.

Both had worked on freelance projects after graduating, and hoped that having their own small agency would allow them to continue to work closely with clients and see projects through from concept to final stage. "Plus we're just two people who love design and wanted to hang out, have fun creating stuff and maybe even get paid for it!"

The agency has since worked with a range of clients including Moet Hennessy NZ, Westpac, Rentokil Initial and Lion Nathan. The 27-year-old describes the agency's work as "eclectic and always driven by the concept", and last year their business card was selected to appear in the book 1000 More Graphic Elements. Simmons has now started developing "the first in what may be a series of typefaces inspired by K Rd and its surroundings" - an area that also happens to be one of his favourite things.

10 favourite things

Bow ties

I adore bow ties. My favourite is my "Bold and Beautiful" from Sydney label All Of Our Lives. They're a one-man band designing kooky, original bowties and they have super photography, graphic design and packaging too. "Bold and Beautiful" is a huge, floppy, black satin number with a plastic gold and black button. I saw a maroon version of this bowtie on a blog about two years ago and had to have it. When I went to Australia later that year it was my mission to find it, but in black. I wasn't even sure a black version existed or that there'd still be any around but one of the first stores I checked had just one left. I immediately snatched it. That made my trip.

Green fish

This green plastic fish is from my nana's home in New Plymouth. We used to go down there every year for Christmas and playing with it in the bath is one of my earliest memories. It's at least as old as me. It looks like something straight out of a Dr Seuss book and I've never seen any modern toy with so much personality. Even though he's just hollow plastic, it feels like a lot of thought has gone into developing this fish character. I think he's really cool.

K Rd

My favourite street in Auckland. I walk along it almost every day. The buildings are some of the most handsome in the city. The modernist 1967 Mazuran's Building is a favourite and of course St Kevin's Arcade. I think Ironbank is a great new addition. Some of the sex shop signage is very nice with some rad illustration work. Then there's the shopping, art, food and people. Everything is mixed in with just the right amount of grit and grime and I find it endlessly inspiring.

Wood Type 'M'

I found this at the amazing shop David Met Nicole in Sydney. They have huge bowls filled with these old wooden printers type blocks. I love typography and I'd have taken them all if I could but I settled on just one beautiful sans-serif M for mimosa. It's very tactile. You just have to pick it up and touch it. It sits on the desk in our studio and reminds Ginny and I to get away from the computer and make work in a more tangible way.

Heavy glass bowl

This was bought by my partner for $10 at the Aotea Markets. I've now claimed it and it sits on my bedside table. I'm generally not a fan of cut glass as a lot seems overly fussy, but this is different. It's thick and heavy, with large facets and has a very strong and graphic appeal. I find watching the shifting reflections and refracted light quite mesmerising.

Straits Chinese porcelain

Produced in China from around 1800 until the 1920s for the Straits Chinese in Southeast Asia. My partner is Straits Chinese but I really became interested in this stuff after a trip to Melaka and seeing the landscapes, buildings, colours and lifestyle that influenced these designs. We have a small collection of original pieces, all about 100 years old and a whole bunch of modern reproductions. The bright colours and busy patterns are pretty over the top and brash. I think that's what I like in them.

Split-flap displays

I only recently learned the name for these, I've always just referred to them as airport clackers. They're those signs that used to be in every airport and train station to announce arrivals and departures. As they change you get a rad clack clack clack sound that escalates into a loud roar as they all start going. They perfectly embody change, excitement and movement so seem just the thing for displaying travel information. Sadly they are almost all replaced by dull LCD screens today; I must find one for Mimosa's office before they become extinct.

Old espresso cup

I found this espresso cup at an antique shop in Westmere. Pale mint green with a fine gold trim, I like how the design and colour is quite understated. Its rounded-square form is quite unusual and the subtly curving handle adds an organic touch to the otherwise softened geometric form. The porcelain is so fine you can see right through it. They really have put a lot of attention into this little cup and saucer.

384 Match Boxes by Janet Lilo

It's hard to pick a favourite piece of art but this was given to me by the artist, one of my best friends, Janet Lilo, so I love it for sentimental as well as aesthetic reasons. It is made up of 384 old match boxes assembled together into a colour co-ordinated composition. I'm fascinated by collections of almost anything. Every box has a story to tell and even though I've had it for a few years now, I still seem to keep discovering new ones.

Osakazuki maple

I'm really not much of a garden person but my latest fixation is the osakazuki Japanese maple that I've just planted in my backyard. The leaves are just starting to turn from green to bright fiery red and I find myself constantly looking at it to check the progress. Since finding this tree I have become completely obsessed. I don't know what's happened to me. I've been spending every spare moment trawling the internet for information on its history and how to look after it. I'm now planning on planting another one to keep it company. Must find a way to channel this maple passion into a design project.

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Article By Zoe Walker. Published courtesy of The New England Herald

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