Thursday 24th Nov 2016
Just in time for the release of Fantastic Beasts, graphic designers MinaLima have put on a brand new exhibition. So now you can gawk at and buy prints straight from 1920s wizarding New York.
There’s a ramshackle pink building known as House of MinaLima on Greek Street in Soho, London. If you walk through the maroon-painted doorway, past the Harry Potter paraphernalia and up some rickety, spiral stairs, you’ll arrive in a room on the first floor. It’s just been redecorated with 1920s-inspired wallpaper; the walls are lined with picture frames. This is where design geniuses Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima – together they are ‘MinaLima’ – have put the art from Fantastic Beasts on display.
There are wizarding newspapers, complete with headlines about Grindelwald; Wanted posters with mugshots of Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein; New York theatre advertisements and anti-magic propaganda posters.
It’s a bespoke treasure trove of Fantastic Beasts art and, like everything these two designers create, it’s captivating. Walking around the room is like wandering through J.K. Rowling’s imagination and it’s nothing short of glorious.
‘We wanted the room to feel cozy and rich, like it’s straight out of the 1920s and you might want to just come in and stay here,’ says Miraphora, looking around. It does, and you do.
When we speak, Miraphora and Eduardo are getting ready to open their doors at 12.01am, 18 November. Just after midnight, the public will be allowed to visit and – at exactly the same time as the movie plays at midnight screenings around the country – they can buy the original screenplay for the movie. The cover of that book, which is sitting in sealed boxes in the basement, was designed by MinaLima.
‘People have seen the cover on social media…’ says Miraphora.
‘But inside, it has lots of little illustrations that they haven’t seen. The idea was to bring the period to the design,’ adds Eduardo.
‘Good inspiration for tattoos in there!’ says Miraphora.
‘So those will be on sale from one minute past midnight,’ says Eduardo. ‘Then we are open 24 hours, from midnight to midnight! Who knows what will be happening at 5am?!’
The midnight launch isn’t the only thing Harry Potter fans will recognise. In fact, Miraphora and Eduardo are responsible for a number of the Easter eggs that tie Fantastic Beasts back to the Harry Potter films.
For a start, there’s a 1920s print for a perfume called Divine Magic – which Potter fans may have recognised from the background set dressing of Half-Blood Prince (2009). There’s even a bottle of Pumpkin Juice in Tina and Queenie's apartment.
‘It was like a client telling us they’re rebranding, but back in time. We’re retro-designing. We felt like we owed that familiarity to the fans,’ says Miraphora. ‘We’re the same people who worked on those films, and they’re the same fans who watched them. We felt that it was our responsibility to put a few things in… If there are opportunities for us to create those threads, it’s like a small gift for the audience.’
They also – and I love this about them – snuck in a few secrets of their own. Eduardo tells me, for example, that if you happen to know his family well and look closely enough at the copies of The New York Ghost or The Daily Prophet, you might recognize the names of his husband, sister, brother, and nephew in the bylines. Along with some headlines they wrote to amuse themselves: ‘Venomous Tentacular Traps Burglar in Tenement Robbery’; ‘Ginger Witch Chased’; ‘Splinched Finger Chaos at Charleston Chicken Factory.’
That’s what’s loveliest about MinaLima. Apart from their obvious and frankly astounding talent, they’re playful with this world and it’s infectious.
Get along to the Fantastic Beasts exhibition at 26 Greek St London, or peruse the prints here: