If there’s one thing we know for sure at KBDi, it’s that Members arrive in our unique niche from a variety of pathways.

We’ve learned that some of our best designers have landed in their roles after years – sometimes decades – of honing their skills in sometimes related or often way-off-field careers. Some of our most accomplished designers have pieced together a patchwork of skills and a lifetime of knowledge to get where they are today, and there’s a common thread amongst all of them: they all agree that design is indeed a journey of discovery, and lifelong learning is the key.

At a recent DesignBuild panel discussion, we heard the stories of a few of our long-time Members. We’ll be sharing their stories in a series of features, but here we’ll start with the founders and directors of Minosa.

The Makings of Minosa

Darren Genner and Simona Castagna need little introduction to the KBDi community. As co-Directors of the hugely successful Sydney design firm, Minosa, the powerhouse pair have a  passion for design and a folio of work that inspires us all.

Darren started in the industry as a fresh-faced teenager in the late eighties, after leaving school and receiving a stern paternal warning to find a job within six months or join the army. With little desire to ‘don the khaki greens, Darren took the first apprenticeship that came his way. In his wood machining trade, he turned out many, many kitchens before moving to bespoke joinery and beginning his love affair with making extraordinary things. Darren soon moved through the ranks to programming, project management, contract management and administering projects, and through seeing the work of other designers, developed a great curiosity for design.

Darren’s other half began her career with an interior design qualification from Melbourne’s RMIT. Simona Castagna soon learned that interior design jobs weren’t so easy to come by, and she spent many months working in a café while looking for her dream design position. While not her end goal, she took the opportunity to get her foot in the door with a job in a large Swedish retailer (you know the one – yellow and blue), where she was introduced to modular design and the art of customer relations. The critical skill of salesmanship was further enhanced in a Bang & Olufsen store, where Simona learned that you can’t sell a great design without the craft of selling (this is invaluable learning for all of us!), and in the Poliform kitchen divisions in Sydney and ACT.

When the pair eventually met (in a kitchen cabinet in said Poliform showroom – but that could be another story!), they took little time to realise their shared passion for design and combined skillsets could take them places. Together they founded Minosa, and the Australian design space is better for it. Their commitment to ongoing learning is undoubtedly an enormous testament to their success. Despite their experience and previous qualifications, both Darren and Simona saw great value in filling their knowledge gaps with a specialty qualification delivered by Designer Training Australia. This further education, combined with a life-long commitment to learning through travel and observation, continues to see them go places, and we love being alongside them on their journey.

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