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Mnima is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of bespoke lighting and other well-considered objects helmed by founder and principal designer Steve Holzgraefe. Based in the Twin Cities, Mnima is centered at the confluence of concept, design and form. We spoke to Holzgraefe about his creative process, how his love for art influences his designs and more.

Photography by Jeff Cords

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Honestly, everywhere. After reviewing my sketchbook from earlier this year, I was apparently interested in how the form of a Kate Spade handbag might function as a light. Lately I’ve been obsessing over architecture in Brazil, including Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist masterpiece Palácio da Alvorada and more recent work from Marcio Kogan’s Studio MK27. My advice for anyone looking for inspiration is to be broadly curious and relentlessly attentive and to always have some means on your person to capture your ideas.

How would you describe the design style of Mnima?

Mnima can best be described as a minimalist ethos with a modernist vibe. The four design tenets included in Mnima’s messaging include mellow precision, subtle form, quiet detail and sublime restraint. These tenets do a great job of encapsulating what Mnima is all about.

Is there a specific moment throughout your career that directed your passion for design?

I think a big moment for me was moving to Minnesota in the late nineties and my subsequent exposure to all of the rich cultural opportunities that the Twin Cities affords. The move really launched my journey of exploring how a sense of place can influence and inform a body of work.

Who is the Mnima customer?

Mnima is for those who have an appreciation for clean lines, discreet and elegant interactions, and perhaps an affinity toward Scandinavian and Japanese culture. A piece from Mnima is for anyone who is looking for and will enjoy an object of long-lasting import.

How do you incorporate your love of art into your designs?

I’ll often remark that my artist friends consider me a designer and my designer friends label me an artist, making me neither fish nor fowl. That being said, I just keep on creating the work I’m driven to do and focus on creating pieces that will last a lifetime. I’ve found Israeli designer Ron Arad’s wandering career arc and diverse body of work to be both inspirational and aspirational.

What is your favorite part of your creative process?

The point at which I know a design is going to work but I’m not quite sure how.

Are there any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon?

In addition to the launch of our Exigen light earlier this year, there are several other new designs that will be debuting in September at the NY Luxury Design Fair. I’m very excited to be transitioning back to live events with the opportunity to meet with customers and buyers in person again. Follow Mnima on Instagram for the latest.

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