ason Miller is a Brooklyn-based designer and the founder of Roll & Hill, a high end contemporary lighting manufacturer that, besides producing his own designs, collaborates with independent designers to create a collection of beautiful a lighting fixtures.
Born in New York and raised in Darien, Connecticut, Jason’s suburban upbringing heavily influenced his early, more conceptual pieces
— duct-taped chairs and cracked vases, among them — and continues to inform the elegant, historically rich work that has become his signature, elevating everyday elements of the American culture
as well as integrating inspirations from his own background and memories.
Jason received an MFA in painting and spent time in both the art and advertising worlds, which partially explains why his works often blur the border between art and design, but he soon realized he preferred making things
to documenting them.
His designs still often reflect those early preoccupations, but each is a functional object, with a kind of beauty and wit. Today, Jason runs both Jason Miller Studio and Roll & Hill from his headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Your design works and exhibitions are all bordering on art. As a designer and an artist, how do you think these two worlds can complement each other and how do they do it in your work?
JM: At the end of the day art and design are both about making things. At their best both art and design say something about humanity. There is a lot in common.
You have often reinvented concepts and objects that are deeply American. Can you explain where this comes from and if there is an element of nostalgia?
:I don’t like to think of my work as nostalgic, but perhaps there is an element of that. What I am really trying to do it explore my culture and my history
. I have no interest in making things that don’t have a sense of cultural place.
You divide your time between your own projects at Miller Studio and your company Roll & Hill. How does this dual occupation respond to different creative needs?
: Nothing has done more to make me a better designer than running a manufacturing company. All designers should experience what is like to be on the other side of the process
. The only clash is time. Sometimes there is just not enough.
Which are the most interesting places in New York City from a designer's point of view?
JM: I think to be a good designer you need as many influences as you can get. Having a broad picture is important. That’s why its hard for me to say this is my favorite designer or artist or building. That said, right now I am interested in old interiors. Interiors before the 60s roughly. The amount of work that was put into the construction is virtually impossible replicate today. The price would be just too high. You just have to check out the bathrooms of Cipriani on 42nd street to know what I mean.