Interview: Milvia Hannah

We often talk to women who work in the design sector, and what consistently stands out is their passion for what they do.

Milvia Hannah is no exception. With a hugely successful business and a desire to not only produce outstanding work for her clients but also give back to the industry, Milvia is yet another accomplished woman who’s making her mark.

Read about what drives Milvia’s inspiration and keeps her passion alive, in our latest Industry Woman interview.

Please provide your name, job title and company name.

Milvia Hannah, CMKDNZ, CMBDNZ, Dip Kitchen Design
Design Director, German Kitchens Limited

How long have you spent in your current position?

29 years.

What job did you have before your current role?

I’ve always enjoyed the same career path, working in the Kitchen Design industry for seven years before establishing German Kitchens Limited.

To date, what has been your career highlight?

  • Having happy, satisfied clients, and to bring their dreams to reality.
  • Winning design awards and representing New Zealand design on the international stage.
  • Being respected by clients and my industry peers.
  • Being a NKBA tutor, educating and mentoring students. This allows me to give something back to the industry and brings so much personal satisfaction when students gain their Diploma in
  • Kitchen Design qualification.
  • To be proud of my career path, skills, and achievements.
  • Establishing a family business where my children now work alongside and will eventually take over and continue the legacy.

Who have you admired or learnt from the most in your career and why?

I relish the style and design ethics that bring so much creativity to important personal spaces and lifestyles; and enjoy the concepts, balance, symmetry, harmony, creativity, ideas and the vision and flair used to pull a scheme together. European designers and European styling and philosophy are also great sources of inspiration for me.

Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing when you were younger? If not, what type of job did you expect you would have?

My desire was to always work with people and to be creative within the design field. The difficulty was being able to recognise which design medium would allow me to channel my talents and interest to their full potential.

Securing a position within the kitchen design industry fulfilled the ability to achieve my desire, and in the process delivered so much more in so many ways – with many interesting and challenging avenues, relationships, and friendships along the way.

Working within the design Industry and with my professional career, my passion, enthusiasm, interest, and desire, have never waned as each job is so different. I relish the challenge it brings – it’s a perfect fit!

What do you think is the most important quality or skill you need to succeed in your current role?

  • To be professional and respectful to clients – their wants and needs.
  • Be respectful and professional to yourself!
  • Being creative and visionary, which means developing new ideas and solutions, and to imagine future possibilities – these are crucial skills!
  • To be a good people person, a good listener, have great attention to detail and be a multi-tasker. You also need to have a desire to learn and improve every day, as the design industry does not wait for anyone.

What’s one thing you hope to achieve this year, either at work or in your personal life?

I am very passionate about continuing with my profession and to bring life and pleasure to great designs and spaces for clients. This is an honour and a privilege and rewarding on a personal level.

I also hope to continue with my tutoring for the NKBA Diploma in Kitchen Design qualification and continue with having a position on the NKBA Executive Board, allowing me to have a voice for the Association.


Do you have any tips or advice for those just starting out in the industry?

  • Enrol in the NKBA education program and become qualified – this is a benefit to the designer that will be a respected and invaluable asset to their career.
  • Be proud of who you are, be professional in your choice of career path, and be the very best you can!
  • Value your skills, knowledge, and education.
  • Be prepared to continue to learn and upskill industry knowledge.
  • Stay up to date and in-tune with the ever-changing landscape.
  • And always allow time to stop, look back and appreciate your work and how far you have come.