QH QUESTIONABLES: Giles Miller
interview by Calum Donoghue, 30 September 2014
London design practice, Giles Miller Studio, has tailor-made innovative interiors for leading hotels, restaurants and department stores from the UK to Dubai. Each project is painstakingly created by hand in house at their Spitlefields studio.
Following a busy London Design Week showcasing work outside Shoreditch High Street Station, designer Giles Miller chats to QH about British design and going for gold.
You work features heavily in department store Level Shoe District in Dubai, and you recently completed surface designs for the bar-front at the Geales Restaurant in Dubai’s Le Royal Meridien Hotel, do you think the Middle East is a strong market for your work?
I do feel that it is a strong area for potential British design consumption - the UAE is interested in pushing creative boundaries both in their international development as a nation as well as in the individual artist, so they are certainly very open to our concepts and even to the price of some of our work!
Can you tell us more about your interest in using more eco-friendly materials? And do you find these more challenging to make look high value?
It was one of my personal goals when first getting to grips with my own design practice to try to beautify materials - I am interested in the manipulation of materials and in finding ways of creating intrigue in the mundane, and so for example corrugated cardboard was a great medium fro my work initially. I believe it is very important for designers to constantly question the value and validity of their output in the world, and in that sense to work with eco-credible materials is a big bonus.
Your commission for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew helps raise funds for the Breathing Planet Campaign, what was it about the project that interested you? Can you tell us more about the installation?
The installation at Kew was very different from our usual work - they approached us because of some interesting timber projects that we have recently completed, and the result was the use of around 10 different timbers in the piece. It was not our usual method but the result was fantastic, and I believe the campaign is going very well. Kew is a wonderful client to have worked with, and the gardens are incredibly inspiring, so I hope we continue to work with them.
You have mentioned previously that hotels are of particular interest to work with, what it is about those particular spaces that you find more enjoyable to work on?
The world seems to be becoming smaller every day in terms of the global connections that are so easily made, and hotels are a big part of the globalisation of the world. I spend a lot of time in them myself and so to be able to create pieces which are experienced by so many people throughout the year is a joy. Our work is about creating a sensory and evocative reaction in people - we want them to enjoy the experience of our work and so a hotel is the perfect place to find a constant audience.
London is a leading city for design and is where your studio is based, could you recommend your must see design destinations in the capital?
I always struggle to make suggestions to friends and visitors of London given that I have a terrible memory as well as the fact that I never really see the same place more than once - there is indeed so many lovely places to visit, especially at this time of year. For a stab at an answer, I would suggest a favourite restaurant - Bob Bob Riccard in Soho, a favourite gallery - the Hayward who always have great content, and a favourite park - Victoria Park where I used to run, and which I miss fondly.
If you could only choose one colour to use for the rest of your career what would it be and why?
I would be saddened to choose only one colour to use but equally it would suit our concept which involves creating tone in one colour by changing angles and using reflection - I'd have to go for Gold! I am a magpie to it's beauty and glamour!
Your work is showcased internationally, are there any cities in particular you are interested to work?
I am very interested in expanding our offerings overseas and I do see the export of British creativity as a primary goal for our studio. In particular we have been concentrating on our projects in Dubai, which I do very much enjoy. Attitudes towards our creative output vary across the world, and I do love the reaction we get in the Emirates. In terms of where next, we are beginning some efforts to take our work to India and I look forward to visiting next month to get things going in that region.