Stepping into the Light

Like actors who can never shake a great role, some designers are forever defined by the success of a popular product. For the designer Jason Miller, it’s his ceramic Superordinate Antler lamp, which was released seven years ago and is still his best seller. Rather than fight the fact, Miller is parlaying it into a new lighting company, Roll & Hill, which has its launch at ICFF this month.

“I started to realize that lighting is something people are willing to pay a little more for,” Miller says. “They want the design behind it. They want it to feel special.” The core pieces in the debut collection range from $2,000 to $8,000—certainly more than, say, Ikea’s $70 Italian knockoff, Kulla, now gracing living rooms everywhere, or even Ingo Maurer’s Zettel’z, a fanciful chandelier made of love notes that costs around $1,200. In addition to Miller’s own designs, the collection includes works by Lindsey Adelman, Sarah Cihat and Michael Miller, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Paul Loebach, Partners & Spade, and Rich Brilliant Willing, all of which will be assembled in Brooklyn and carried by a network of some 50 shops worldwide. Design Within Reach began selling Miller’s Superordinate Antler (3) and Modo lamps (2) and Adelman’s Agnes candelabra last month.

“I love selling pieces by Charles and Ray Eames, but people know about them already,” says John Edelman, DWR’s new CEO. “Design Within Reach is supposed to bring designs that are currently inaccessible to the average American and make them accessible. Otherwise they will die in obscurity. The second I got this job, I reached out to Jason.”

For his part, Miller aims to appeal to the American market. “The essential thing people ask is, ‘Why do Americans not buy design?’” Miller says. “We tend to think that’s the wrong question. They are buying it; they’re just buying it in a differ-ent way. We have just as much furniture in our houses as Europeans do. Maybe Americans just want something else.”

Just what is it we want? “Comfort plays into it a lot,” Miller says. “I don’t think Americans deal with severe abstraction very well. They like a certain amount of ease.”

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