MIRROR WATER: Can you tell us the story of your career as a designer? (If that’s not a huge question to start with!)
MANUELY AVILA: Initially I wanted to be a lawyer! I’m from Venezuela and in South America it can be quite traditional in the way that some people think of careers. I always liked design but my parents thought it would be best for me to have a more reliable career. So I started studying law and – surprise – I hated it! I decided to quit and switched to studying fashion design, but I still felt a bit lost and wasn’t sure if it was right for me. I liked the process of designing clothes, but I didn’t actually enjoy sewing or working with material. The speed of the machine made me anxious. Then some personal circumstances came up and I had to leave and move back to the island where I grew up.
MIRROR WATER: Before you worked at MIRROR WATER, had you ever designed physical products before?
MANUELY AVILA: Yes I had, but I never got to see them! This was when I was working for the design studio, so I was in Melbourne and the studio was in the US. I would make a design, the designer there would refine it and deliver it to the client. But now I have other design work that’s in stores and the MIRROR WATER products have been released, it never gets old me for to see things I’ve made in person, though I get very nervous before I see them!
MIRROR WATER: What was your vision for MIRROR WATER?
MANUELY AVILA: Estée (Founder and CEO) had a lot of sources of inspiration—all kinds of things, like art, architecture, photography—that resonated with her idea for the brand. I asked her a lot of questions to get insight into her mind and I used that to guide my research. I also added more things that made sense for the brand, so I looked at old packaging, old pieces of print and that was my inspiration for the signature font. I knew that things needed to feel connected and grounded and I wanted the design to be clean to complement the products. I had this idea of serenity.
MIRROR WATER: Do you recall a moment in your career where you had a creative breakthrough?
MANUELY AVILA: I never considered working on my own or that I could have the skill to create something from scratch by myself. I always thought I’d be working for someone else at a big studio. The realisation that I can make things with people all across the world was a big moment for me.
MIRROR WATER: What’s your favorite product from our range?
MANUELY AVILA: I love RUB Solid Balm. That’s my favourite for sure. It’s so multi-purpose and I have such dry skin, especially now that it’s starting to get colder in Melbourne. It smells amazing and – I’ve been meaning to tell Estée about this – but it actually takes me back to my childhood because the scent reminds me of a forest back home in Venezuela that I used to visit with my family.