There’s a good chance that at some point over the past two decades, you’ve encountered the work of Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. If you’ve spent any time at all interacting with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — stepping into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, shopping online for some real-life Honeydukes sweets, or even just catching a glimpse of the magical Marauder’s Map while channel surfing on a lazy Sunday afternoon — that experience was directly influenced by this design duo.
Better known by the combined moniker “MinaLima,” Mina and Lima started working together back in 2001, when they were hired to design visual props for a Warner Bros. movie called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Using the term “visual props” may not convey quite how many now-iconic elements of the Harry Potter franchise the duo produced. MinaLima designed everything from the product packaging at Honeydukes and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to Dolores Umbridges’ many decrees, the “wanted” posters for Azkaban escapees, and the students’ textbooks. Some of their most iconic creations include the Hogwarts crest, the Marauder’s Map, Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter, and the pages of The Daily Prophet, which Lima cites as one of his favorite projects.
“I took that under my wing, and I was the chief editor of The Daily Prophet,” he jokes. But his work on the fictional Wizarding newspaper underscores the amount of detail and dedication that MinaLima put into creating the visual style of Harry’s world: You may not have seen this on screen, but the prop editions of The Daily Prophet had every section you would expect to find in a newspaper, including lottery information, horoscopes, and obituaries.
Now, more than 20 years later, the duo — along with the now-expanded MinaLima Studios team — continues to hold a pivotal role within the magical world that they quite literally helped shape.
Perhaps the biggest shift in MinaLima’s Harry Potter journey happened more than a decade after they first sat down to bring to life items like the Chocolate Frog box and Harry’s Hogwarts Express ticket. While MinaLima’s designs had been used on official Harry Potter merchandise for years, the duo was getting more and more requests for prints of their work. Not a replica of the Marauder’s Map, for example, but an official art print of the MinaLima design.
MinaLima was already offering limited-edition prints for some of their other work, so they reached out to the Warner Bros. team about doing something similar for their Wizarding World designs. They flew to Burbank, California, and were taken into a meeting room where they pitched their business plan and received enthusiastic approval within minutes.
Mina explains that, at the time, they didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into. They literally started creating the prints in a studio shed in her back garden because that was the space they had available.
“The plan was just to do the limited-edition art prints,” she recalls. “That was manageable because we could take orders and just print to order.” However, things didn’t go quite as planned.
While the duo’s merchandise offerings began with art prints, MinaLima soon realized that they needed to diversify their portfolio to make their products accessible and affordable for more Harry Potter fans. They expanded their offerings with stationery, cards, textiles, and home goods featuring their designs.
“We love collecting visual pieces anyway,” Mina says. “So we wanted to create pieces of work that were really special and had the production value that we would want if we were buying them ourselves.” This means not rushing the production or compromising the quality of MinaLima products for the sake of cutting costs or expediting timelines.
According to Mauricio Carneiro, an art director for MinaLima, this is what truly resonates with fans and makes MinaLima products stand out as uniquely authentic among other Wizarding World merchandise. “Here, the creator of the original film designs and the designer of the merchandise are one and the same,” he says. “Fans recognize that the merchandise is official and it is premium quality. They also know that the limited-edition prints are special and a valuable investment in art.”
Today, MinaLima offers more than 55 different products featuring their designs, and that number is still growing … as is their number of retail locations all over the world.
THE HOUSE (AND HOME) OF MINALIMA
House of MinaLima — a store-slash-gallery in London that exclusively offers MinaLima products — opened its doors back in 2016. The store was, almost laughably, originally conceived as a three-month pop-up. Today, not only is the store still open, but there is also an expansive MinaLima online shop, a pop-up House of MinaLima in South Korea, and permanent House of MinaLima retail experiences in Japan and within the Harry Potter Flagship Store in New York City.
One of MinaLima’s most recent Wizarding World endeavors, the New York City location is a miniature version of the London shop. When planning its interactive, flagship store that opened last June, Warner Bros. approached MinaLima about bringing House of MinaLima stateside. Mina and Lima were given total creative control over the space, located on the flagship’s lower level and housed in its own room, making it feel separate from the rest of the shopping experience.
“It’s our embassy in New York,” Mina says. “I think it was very important from a brand point of view as well that people would feel that — while the rest of the store has its own language and personality and everything — the minute you step over the threshold, you know you’re in a different thing. And if you know the brand, you know that you’re sort of climbing into our heads.”
Setting up this smaller version of House of MinaLima wasn’t without its challenges. Mina and Lima had to coordinate the design from more than 3,000 miles away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, most of the setup took place over FaceTime calls. However, Mina says that the new location has helped expand MinaLima’s American fanbase at a time when — again, due to the ongoing pandemic — international fans couldn’t travel to visit the House of MinaLima in London.
“Next time you go [to the New York shop], don’t judge if the shelves are a bit empty,” Mina adds. “Because that’s what’s happened. We can’t get the stuff on the shelves quick enough. So that’s been enchanting, but frustrating.”
A NEW TAKE ON THE CLASSICS
If multiple stores, ongoing work with the Fantastic Beasts movies, and MinaLima Studio’s expansive portfolio of non-Wizarding World work weren’t enough, MinaLima has also started producing illustrated editions of the Harry Potter book series. So far, they have completed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (published in 2016) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (published last year), both infused with colorful illustrations and intricate pop-out elements. MinaLima had started working with Harper Collins on a series of illustrated fairytales and classics back in 2013, which became the springboard for MinaLima’s Harry Potter editions.
Mina and Lima agree that the illustrated books come with their own set of joys and challenges. For one, the designers have to put aside all of the visuals that they have worked on for two decades. “There are things that have become iconic in our heads that we’re like, oh, we just need to delete that,” Mina says. “Because, A, it’s not a Warner Bros. production. And, B, it is a new work.”
As Lima explains, they also had to think about many elements of worldbuilding beyond visual props, including casting, sets, and costumes. But starting over within the Wizarding World gave MinaLima a lot of artistic freedom.
They took the opportunity to visually represent characters and moments that didn’t make it into the movies. They were also able to create an even more fantastical version of Harry’s world, as none of their creations had to become physical props on a movie set. Overall, working on these editions of the books has created something of a full-circle moment for MinaLima and their journey with Harry Potter, Carneiro says.
“The artwork you see on a wallpaper or a print by MinaLima was also created by MinaLima for the film you love — the film that you love because you love reading the book. Well, now you have both films and books featuring designs by MinaLima.”
Truly, it’s somewhat mind-boggling to consider how MinaLima’s designs have become cemented into pop culture, helping shape one of the largest fandoms of all time. In many ways, the designs have taken on a life of their own, beyond MinaLima, which can be interesting for the designers to navigate. For Mina, the absolute culmination of this love from fans has been seeing MinaLima designs as tattoos. “You’re like no no no, that was really intended just for the film,” she says.
For Lima, it may be best illustrated by his reluctance to answer the question, “Which design would you redo, if given the chance?” He was asked the same thing once at a fan event and answered honestly: the pumpkin juice logo. He recalls that the audience reacted with absolute silence, and many fans came up to him after, showing genuine concern — “Why don’t you like the pumpkin juice? You shouldn’t say that, we all adore the pumpkin juice!” Lima did, however, get to design a new version of the pumpkin juice packaging for the Fantastic Beasts movies.
“At the same time, it’s a fantastic feeling to know that people really, really absolutely adore and love and appreciate all of those props,” Lima says. “At the time, we were just given a list of props that we needed to do and design. We were not thinking that things were going to become so known that people would love and adore and appreciate them. The fans always come to us and say, ‘Oh my god, the Marauder’s Map is exactly how I imagined,’ and that is impossible.”
“But it doesn’t matter,” Mina interjects.
“But it doesn’t matter,” Lima agrees. “Because now, if you think about the Marauder’s Map or The Daily Prophet, it is the props that we created. It’s a very cool feeling.”
This article was originally published in Issue No. 12 of the Pop Insider. Click here to read the full issue!