The Following Interview is courtesy of Martin Brudzniki Design Studio.
TALKING TO: KIT MILES
The fact Kit Miles is still considered a ‘rising star’ despite his work being featured across the pages of World of Interiors, The Financial Times and Elle Decor Italia goes to show just how far this British designer will go.
A recent graduate from the RCA’s Textile Design Course, whose alumni include Alice Temperley, Zandra Rhodes and Lucienne Day, Kit Miles established his eponymous label in 2011 and has since gone on to work with leading architects and designers around the world.
Ahead of a staggering seven events for London Design Festival, including an integral role in the Dulux – Colour Futures at Somerset House and Design Junctions’ A Childs’s Dream, we caught up with Kit for the blog.
MBDS: Tell us about your background, how did you become a textile designer?
KM: I left university with my MA in textile design from the Royal College of Art in 2011. This was the end of seven years training specifically in textile design.
What made you set up your own studio?
It was two things, I have a lot of energy and drive but also, at the time, my portfolio was considered avant-garde. People used to ask me to tone myself down which felt like creative censorship, something I’m not interested in…so I decided to jump into starting my own design business and have never looked back!
I learnt about the business not knowing much about how to run and build a company, but what I did have was seven years of textiles training and unlimited supplies of ambition and devotion. As a result, we are now in a really great position.
How would you describe what you do?
We design and produce exquisite textiles and wall coverings. Everything is drawn in-house making us truly a design and craft-led brand. I see drawing as a way you can distil and render imagination into ideas with clarity and directness, I think it’s that which gives us our strength. We are all about creativity, critical thinking and craft. Our designs have power and seek to tell a new narrative and we do that through colour, imagery and scale. Creating a sense of place and identity within an environment is increasingly important in a homogenous world. That’s where I step in.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think inspiration is a synthesis, an attitude. You create your own lens, through training and experience to give you a view and that is made up of some core components which, I believe, make you decide what is valid and non-valid input specific to the goals of a project. Once those fundamentals gain equilibrium, visual tricks can be cleverly combined to create newness. Keeping an open mind is increasingly important.
When I work I really like to uncover tensions between different elements and design narratives. Sometimes it’s interesting to force things together that don’t usually fit and then see how one can develop them. It means I’m always looking for interesting proximities.
You’re renowned for your dynamic use of colour and attention to detail, what do you look for when creating a pattern?
For me, it’s simple. Does the artwork on the table communicate or add something new to the dialogue within the ecosystem we have carefully built? How does it expand upon and unpack our core ethos in new ways? One of the things that defines us as a design house is colliding historical references with the future, We use theatrical devices to evoke themes and explore exciting ideas. In the end, I have just got to love it.
When you sit down to create your next design, where do you begin? Do you have a creative process?
It depends if it is a short project or if it is a long lead project. Ideally, I have time enough to have thoroughly researched, create drawings in my sketchbooks, take photographs, re-draw ideas and then go on drawing thumbnails. Here, I start to distil the overall flow of the collection and then start to sample what the effects will look like in final print quality.
Do you see a way in which the patterns from our everyday lives translate aesthetically into the visual patterns you create?
The unwritten vocabulary or ornament is everywhere. It’s a visual language which guides us through space. It tells us so much about who we are, our aspirations and our pasts and, surprisingly, it’s a dialect which people can at times be afraid of somehow, or even intimidated by it. My job is to create output which has meaning in people’s lives and which reveals newness. The world is full of texture and pattern. I cannot help but think about design and visual opportunities constantly.
Have you collaborated creatively with any other companies? If so, how? If not, would you like to?
We have just completed our second collaboration with Osborne and Little and have some very exciting projects happening in Asia. The retail side of our business is growing and our interior design clients are from all over the world! I would love to collaborate with Moooi as our outlook has such a great crossover. The Rug Company are fantastic, we are on the same page in so many respects, and it would be great to do a collaboration with them. Mint is a regular client and has been very supportive right from the start. The perfect relationship comes when you bring together business, creativity and risk-taking.
You work in a variety of mediums from wallpaper to fabric cushions and furniture – do you have a favourite or preference?
Textiles are my core but I would be comfortably-uncomfortable designing lighting as well as furniture. It is part of my long-term plan to grow the brand into furniture. Print is always seen as flat but I constantly think in three dimensions. I have long been attracted to working with the moving image, it would be very interesting to see how this can engage with space and materials, particularly with my striking visuals. Designing a marble floor or carpet for a casino would be great too.
What has been your career highlight so far and how did it happen?
Fortnum and Mason has made contact with us recently and it all happened through Twitter initially which was interesting. I’m always taking advantage of social networks to boost our outreach and I’m always delighted and surprised by the wonderful things that come from it. My career highlight so far? This interview and welcoming the next challenge.
What’s next for you?
We just finished work with The Groucho Club in Soho and are looking forward to working on some big commercial projects in Asia. We are always pushing our practise with our interior design and architect customers and can’t wait to unpack our creative output in new and innovative ways. This is, of course, just the start.
This month is the London Design Festival and we have an unprecedented number of events planned – seven in total. It’s our largest event yet and I can’t wait to get it all underway.