Helen Stevens reports for Arts Thread at 100% Design, London.
Arts Thread feature link: http://blog.artsthread.com/2010/10/ldf-100-design-giles-miller-interview/
Giles Miller studied Furniture Design at Loughborough and continued studies at the Royal College of Art before graduating in 2009. Giles focus is based upon innovative surfaces for interior and architectural specification, offering personal and bespoke imagery and material for each individual commission. He experiments using unlikely 3D materials, such as metals, cardboard and interactive plastic.
During his education and since leaving university, Giles has already become a recognisable talent within the design world appealing to many well known brands and institutes including Stella McCartney Pop-Up Store, London Design Museum, Ecologist Magazine, Selfridges and Bombay Sapphire. Some of Giles’ designs have also gone into production with Italian brands, Dovetusai and the newly launched furniture giant Skitsch.
It seems you were very proactive and focused on being successful in your career from an early age, how did you start to begin putting your determination into practise?
I graduated from my BA in 2006 alongside 3 other students who I then collaborated with in the formation of Farm designs, a young British Design collective with a diverse range that worked well together. We joined forces to exhibit at shows and exhibitions and that was the catalyst for realising our potential commercially. Commission began to come in and then I showed on my own in the Milan furniture fair with a group called Hidden Art who were also instrumental in my development. It was these trade shows that really helped to push my work onto press and consumers alike.
Having studied furniture earlier on in your eduaction, what was it that moved you into surface design?
My cardboard work was picked up in 2008/09 by Stella McCartney's team and they commissioned me to create a wall covering for their shop in Paris. This job showed me the potential for my work as surfaces. I was still studying for my masters at the Royal College of Art at the time so I began to use my time there to develop new materials, and the consequences have lead to a first collection of surfaces that was launched during 100% design this year.
Would you say experimentation is quite a vital part of your process?
I believe experimentation is the only real path to true design originality. It’s very hard to avoid your mind becoming saturated by all the other work out there, and undertaking your own process and letting it drive itself in an experimental way is really the best way to find true innovation and originality.
Do you manufacture in the UK? How do you feel about keeping manufacturing in the UK for British design companies?
Retaining my manufacturing in the UK is currently a vital part of my philosophy and practice. Not only is it important to develop personal relationships with manufacturers, but it is hugely beneficial to the UK industries that designers try to retain business within the UK. I have had experience with working with overseas manufacturers recently having been forced by a client’s limited budget, but it was not a satisfying outcome for reasons that could have been avoided with UK production. That's my British industry plug!
Being a recognisable talent, do you find most trade comes to you or do you still have to work quite hard at promoting your business?
I don't think I'm widely recognised outside the design industry at all, but there is always an element of passed business or word of mouth which helps bring in work. That said, press is usually the key to new work, and other than the odd trade show I do not put too much into promotion. It rather diminishes the chance to design.
What would you say is the most exciting project you have worked on so far?
I'm afraid it’s hard to pin one project down, but over the last 3 months I have been fortunate enough to work on exciting projects with Bombay Sapphire, Stella McCartney and Selfridges in a rush of excitement that I hope will continue!
Do you have any quick advice for new design graduates hoping to set up their own business within industry?
I would say that despite my poor example, it’s worth getting some experience within a similar field to where you'd like to end up first. If, like me, you don't have the patience then get in touch with Hidden Art, show your work during the London Design Festival at the biggest trade show you can afford, and sort out some lovely photos of your work to send to press. Best of luck!