alt tag

Playing Outside the Box

Creative License -“Playing Outside the Box”- Artist and Designer Marissa Frandsen
By Allison Parker


Whimsy is a word that comes to mind when thinking of my meeting with Marissa 'Mia' Frandsen, founder of Mia Malcolm Studio. An established designer of home interiors and furniture as well as a creator of Fine Art canvas paintings, she is unencumbered with traditional decorating genres. She focuses on first making a relationship with the heart of a person when meeting them. She feels that working with anyone as their designer is a special relationship. “ It is about them, not me, their dreams, their day to day like a friendship or a marriage.” Getting to the soul of a relationship is where Mia sees a free range of possibilities of design that will encompass everything that her meeting with client inspires.
Having grown up in California with a father who was a contractor and a mother who was a designer, Mia felt an innate sense of craftmanship. She remembers creating her own items was so fulfilling as a child in a time when so many people were so brand focused. She shares “I feel it is amazing to see a change from wanting cookie cutter brand items to a want for more individualized tasteful pieces.” Having this sense of ownership to creating projects and art, Mia worked first painting murals. As a young, newly married mom, Mia had a secondary need to share her creativity. She had a small child who was ill at the time and in need of pricey medication. Her beautiful art murals in a way were a labor of love to be able to provide the necessities to keep her young child healthy and overcome the illness. Presently, her son is thriving and so is her creativity. Mia proudly and almost tearfully shares “I’m not one to be negative or hide in a corner. I’m going to fight to make things work out, and I will not give up or give in to any negative situation.”
Her continuing movement forward with her art led her to a chance meeting with a vendor who recommended she help with a mural project for a larger home. It turned out the owner of the home was the now late Ron Simek also the founder /owner of Tombstone Pizza! As a young, budding artist, this amazing referral resulted in her first major contract for $70,000!! From then, her work flourished as she worked with such famous clients as one of the owners (shared ownership) of the Phoenix Suns as well as the producer of Happy Gilmore among others. Mia has also had her moment in the spotlight as a TV host for The Design Network show titled UpCycled. She loved having the opportunity to host a show and loves the theme and inspiration of The Design Network.
Being exposed to so many different outlets as a designer, Mia shares “So many designers are taught or feel they need to know their specific mark. I want to be that designer who doesn’t want to have a uniform mark, but rather work individually to create a unique ‘mark’ with each client. People bring me their dreams, ideas, folly in bits and pieces from magazine tear outs, fabric swatches, etc. I feel I can use their uniqueness and be the vessel to bring it all to life in the design I create for them.” Mia gives an example of how she listens to the heart of a person when she goes forward with a design. “I had a client who was a physician and she wanted a fun, happy spot to come home to. She loved a dusty blue, bright pinks and leopard prints and the like but also in her home had simple clean, crisp cool and warm white linens and the like.” Working within the pulse of the customer is the key to a result that is individualized yet classic in its own right. In contrast, I worked on the first deeded property in Rancho Mirage California, a historic property with early California mission architecture. Mia notes “When looking at my portfolio, you will see one consistent thread, it is about the client, and the properties story not my brand, or you could say that is my brand.” The end result is a satisfied customer who sees the final culmination of a mixture of feelings, wants, and different mediums all merged together for one unified unique result. Mia is self-taught which allows her the limitless boundaries to absorb all of the customers input. So many of her customers have become ingrained in her life and she in theirs that she feels each encounter is where she is meant to be.
A serendipity with the universe as well as thoughtful prayer led Mia and family to North Carolina. Having visited the manufacturing plant where her sketched up furniture designs where being bench made for her California clients,it was clear to Mia that her and family could transition and make it home. Mia recollects “I grew up playing in the backyard, having fun with nature not having a TV so the chance to be back to basics is an opportunity to utilize the playful outdoor spirit that is untapped and uninhibited in creative pursuit.” The family’s journey to North Carolina resulted in a canvas painting series called ‘Rivers and Roads’. Mia says “It is a reflection of the views and impressions of the journey here both from the air and the ground. “
Her self-inspired work often takes root from a memory or a discovery within herself or family. One of her favorite series is named "SHE". Within it, there is a piece, “She is Hope”, inspired by uncovering that her great grandmother owned a dress shop in Los Angeles. Mia shares “She sketched the thought, designed the patterns, and sewed them up. Most of all, her bravery as a woman in that era to own her own business, and focus on supporting other working woman, that story inspired me, she was fearless in her pursuit that catered to dresses for working women.” How intriguing to learn this about an ancestor and how design sense can transcend the generations. She recalls “As a child, my room was decorated in cabbage roses and stripes on everything -curtains, bedspreads, carpets. The bloom is a symbol to me to GROW to LIVE and always be moving forward. This is the inspiration for the bloom series. “
The Bloom series is carried by three art galleries as well as Mia has pieces available at Ballard and Neiman Marcus. Her work showing at Highpoint Market allowed exposure for this works and discovery for her customers to find them in local vendors. Her background with construction and design in the family allows her to utilize hardy, quality woods and metals yet offer rounded edges and softer colors and fabrics. The result is a timeless piece of quintessential beauty and function with her Heirloom line.
Mia’s never-ending creativity is a bloom in process. It is going to be a beautiful vision to watch as she unveils new and exciting projects to enchant the art world as well as in her own words “to be a servant and a vessel for her customer’s vision.”

Luxe Lifestyle Magazine

PO Box 79322
Charlotte, NC 28271