Giles Miller is a self-confessed fidget. Having skipped from Business management to Furniture Design as a student he’s always been happiest when playing materials, working out how to make sure his products feel resolved and complete. This genuine passion for his tangible tools leaves him with a free-source mentality, and encourages others to find their own uses and applications for his creations. We took Giles to one side to get to the bottom of what is a very intriguing practice.
Hey Giles, you’ve got a really interesting body of work, can you tell us where you started and how you got to designing products?
I grew up on the south coast and from a young age was always interested in boats and particularly the bigger ones with their efficiently designed interior spaces, but it did take a little while for me to realise that this interest would end up the basis for a career.
I finally moved from an awful business management course in Nottingham to studying Furniture Design in Loughborough and my interest was further enthused by a fantastic group of colleagues who slowly persuaded me to give up the student lifestyle and begin a life of all day and night, every day and night, studio existence.
Why do you think you’re so fascinated by materials?
I suppose individuals have their own methods ingrained, and I have always been a fidget. I think playing with materials and in particular trying to exploit their properties has been a growing interest for me, and now I realise that material development leaves space for others to apply my work in their own chosen format.
Designing materials and surfaces always leads to resolved products, because as these materials develop clear ways of using them, or even showing them off, become apparent. I like the idea that someone will take a material I’ve worked in and put their own pattern into it, or use it to elaborate on their own creations.
You studied on the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art, headed up by Ron Arad. The course has produced so many fantastic alumni – who on the course really stood out for you while you were studying?
I remember calling Max Lamb out of the blue not long after he had graduated, and we ended up meeting in a pub in Clerkenwell where I grilled him on his work and his RCA experience for hours (this was pre-application for me). It’s not hard to chat to Max for hours, and you don’t have to do much chatting yourself, but he’s a delightful guy and I have always loved the way he creates his own processes. That for me is a higher level of design, and process is a fascination for me, especially when designers can develop their own production systems.
I suppose it’s easier for me to mention alumni with whom I’m familiar, but I do find Studio Glithero’s work intriguing for the same reasons. Tim and Sarah’s work centres around processes that they create and the result is always beautiful as well as totally original. It’s nice now to be at least touching the boundaries of Max and Glithero’s work through Gallery Fumi, who have worked with us all.
You’re also part of Farm – can you tell us a little about how that works?
My collective, Farm was the result of efforts by myself and 3 colleagues from Loughborough to maintain momentum in the jump from design student to design professional. It’s a great way for us to show work together and we have had collective commissions from the likes of the Design Museum, where we recently built a factory under their stairs as well as a stand for their show during Clerkenwell Design Week.
The Farmers are a group of very individual designers who are disparate in terms of their design direction, but we have a totally paralleled appreciation of design and are consistently involved in the critiquing and development of each others work, however individual the project. The diversity of our work has always had intriguing results when we’ve come together for shows and projects and we will continue to do so, but currently I am working hard on the development of my own areas of interest.
What can we expect to see next from Giles?
I’m currently working on projects with Selfridges, Stella McCartney and Bombay Sapphire for whom I’m creating some pulp Martini glasses and a cardboard bar for the V&A lates next month. It’s a scary and exciting project! I’m also developing new products with the Italian brand Skitsch and Lebanese duo Bokja.
As time goes on I think I will be concentrating on my surfaces and materials, and hopefully I’ll be staging a launch for that side of the work as a separate element during London Design Week in September. Hmmm… fingers crossed!