#011 - Chiara Mensa

With Oz and Subi

Profile image of Chiara Mensa

Chiara is a Senior UX and UI designer for DrawHistory, with a background in Architecture. She’s also an enthusiastic animal welfare rights supporter. Chiara is based in Perth, Australia.

Andy: Let’s do the important intro first. What pet have you brought along with you today?

Chiara Mensa: Hi Andy, today I’ve got with me two fur balls: Oz the Kelpie X and Subi the tabby cat. They’re both rescues (#adoptdontshop) coming from local shelters – a big shout out to all the wonderful people at Cat Haven and DogRefugeHome going above and beyond for their guests and making adoptions across Western Australia possible, respect. I guess you can say my husband and I are not ready for kids but have found alternative ways to fill our house and hearts 🙂

A Kelpie X dog is cuddled by its female owner
Chiara and Oz by the sea

Andy: Ok, I think my heart just burst. Those are very good cat and dog pairing. In fact, a Developurrs first! I have lots of questions—as you can imagine—but the first one has to be: do they get along with each other?

Chiara Mensa: Yes, yes they do!

We’ve had Subi for a year before we had Oz joining the family. The beginning was a bit tricky as we wanted to be overly cautious with introducing them to each other so lots of evenings watching Netflix with one of us on the couch with doggo and the other perched on the stairs with kitty - Netflix and chill: you’re doing it wrong :-P. We even went to the extent of buying a baby gate to ensure a gradual introduction, but Subi had other plans: after about a month she decided Oz was cool and she just jump through the gate, run up to him and did a little play pose in front of his nose and.... the rest is history! They now routinely sleep together, prance around the yard and invade our personal space as a team whenever we are attempting to eat a meal.

A cat looking incredibly comfortable sleeping
Subi getting their sleep on

Andy: Oh my. That’s so good to hear. I like how they collaborate to steal food. It’s admirable.

So since they’ve been best pals with each other, what’s the worst mischief they’ve gotten up to?

Chiara Mensa: Mmmmm...That would probably have to be the time they were left in the yard together for a couple of hours while we were running errands and they teamed up to dig out 2/3 of our vegetable patch. Suffice to say this year’s harvest has not been our best :) After this little stunt of theirs we converted the patch into a little zen garden with large pebble: neither of them was impressed, they really love to dig 🙂

A Kelpie X dog in some long grass
Oz in the long grass

Andy: Holy moly! I was thinking some low grade mischief, but these two are pros!

So, speaking of digging, let’s dig into what you do on the web and what makes you tick. Do you want to tell us all about what you do?

Chiara Mensa: Sure thing!

These days you can find me working as a Senior UX/UI Designer for DrawHistory, a strategic design agency amplifying the impact of change-makers. My main focus is to collaborate with our clients to help them tell their stories online, deep diving into things like user experience and digital design. I most certainly also have a soft spot for creating smart brands, quirky illustrations and the occasional print piece. Even if my background is in Architecture, I really feel my true calling was design all along and I do not exclude finally managing to turn the dream of learning how to code into a reality. Just a couple of weeks ago I took part in Girls Who Code workshop organised by Perth Web Girls and loved every minute of it!

Talking dreams and bucket lists, another big goal of mine would be to specialise in digital and service design for animal welfare and environmental causes. It would be amazing to be able to marry these two big passions of mine—I should probably make it my 2019 new year’s resolution!

Andy: I’m very interested in learning more about your architectural background. Did you start off as an architect?

Focusing on environmental causes and animal welfare is very admirable. Both are things I care a lot about, personally.

A Tabbie cat with their female owner behind them
Chiara and Subi. Subi being a typical cat, playing it cool.

Chiara Mensa: I did indeed go to Architecture school at La Sapienza University of Rome and, while I never practiced, I did complete internship programs in Italy and the USA. You can have a look at some of my uni work over here.

Fresh out of high school it felt like a worthy career choice with a fair bit of alignment to my interests in drawing and creativity so I signed up without too much reflection. However, by the time I graduated after 7-years of hard work and countless all-nighters, I had to be honest with myself and I admit I could not see myself working as an Architect for the next 40 years. I felt I was lacking the intense gut connection with the craft that’s needed to truly excel at moulding meaningful spaces. It was a scary decision to just turn my back on all my formal training and reinvent myself as a Designer, but luckily I found a good portion of my skill set to be transferable to the design industry (nice read on this over here) and well... the rest is history! :)

I’ve honestly never looked back and I’ve found a lot of fulfilment in my design career to date so I would like to encourage anyone who is having second thoughts about their career choice to be brave and explore. Pivoting to a whole new sector is not only possible but it can be incredibly rewarding!

Andy: That’s so interesting to hear and I must say, those renders are stunning. So many of us in the web come from different backgrounds and the transferrable skills that we all bring in can only be a benefit to the community as a whole, in my opinion.

Chiara, I think we’ve covered everything, so let’s wrap up. Can you tell us all where we can find you on the web and how we can support your work?

Chiara Mensa: Yay! It’s been a pleasure talking to you Andy, thanks so much for having the three of us on Developurrs - for anyone who wants to keep up with our adventures Down Under you can follow our Instagram 🙂

Now, to answer your final question, my home on the web is my personal website chiaramensa.com, although I am guilty of not having updated in a while which is something I look forward to fix during this upcoming Xmas break — you should hold me accountable if I don’t! :P Another great place to keep up with my latest projects and WIP is Dribbble and my dedicated Pinterest board. Talking about Pinterest, I find it to be a great platform to create visual libraries of inspiration snippets and design patterns which come in handy as reference for digital, editorial and brand design - you can view all the boards I curate over here. A final mention goes to my T-shirt designs on Cotton Bureau (I’ve got more in the pipeline, stay tuned!) and my stock photos on Twenty20.com.