You don't often hear people put down Scandinavian design, but Jason Miller, founder of the cult lighting company Roll & Hill, thinks it can get, well, a little boring. Instead, he strives for a mix of aesthetics—a marriage of the traditional and the modern. It's a style that's made his company very successful, and now it's celebrating a landmark moment: Last week, after six years of operating out of a studio space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Miller opened Roll & Hill's very first showroom in the heart of Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood.
The three-floor space that was once the warehouse of a hi-fi store has been entirely transformed. Such details as dark-wood paneling, a lush purple rug, and crown molding warm up the interiors, creating a homey yet sophisticated environment.
Miller hopes the space will be able to put the designs into perspective, or what he calls "vignettes of context," for the customers. Lighting will be displayed alongside the company's first furniture collection—new chairs, cabinetry, and shelving designed by both Miller and Philippe Malouin. Table lamps and hanging fixtures by the 15 different independent designers who work with Roll & Hill, including Lindsey Adelman, Paul Loebach, and Bec Brittain, will help reflect the different viewpoints in the showroom's arrangement.
When asked what inspires Roll & Hill's eclectic, hand-crafted fixtures, Miller turns to one of his favorite periods: mid-century Italian. "There's an element of a traditional aesthetic and a new aesthetic mixed together," he says, referencing lighting made popular in the 1950s. "The Italians did fluorescents with traditional materials like brass. I think the juxtaposition of those two things is really interesting."
Roll & Hill designs, such as the new Formafantasma candle holders, are perfect examples of this aesthetic: "They reference the icon of a candlestick: The materials harken back to the old-school design, but you can't look at it and think it's not contemporary." says Miller. "It's this back and forth between the contemporary and the traditional."
Now, hear from four designers about what makes Roll & Hill's lighting so covetable.
"I collect (hoard? It's a fine line...) all sorts of things, but I abhor clutter. So, my solution is to give everything its own 'home.' Cache was conceived as a candle holder as well an elegant house for any candle accessories (lighter, matchsticks, etc.). But, really, you can put whatever you want in it." — James Killinger
"The Esper lamps take inspiration from chochins, the lanterns typically found outside sushi restaurants and late night hangs-outs in Japan. The three different forms are distortions of the iconic lanterns, with smooth and spartan shapes that look to the future while retaining the humility of centuries past. Scale-wise, the blown glass was a feat only made possible by artisans in Italy, but the seamless connection of all components is a testament to Roll & Hill's attention to detail." — designers Joseph Guerra and Sina Sohrab
Ladies & Gentlemen Studio
"Kazimir began as an exploration of complexity and simplicity. By layering the various textures and colors of three glass panes, the optical properties play off one another in unexpectedly complex ways that vary depending on the angle. This project is all about celebrating a simple material in a very elevated and refined way—Roll & Hill's high level of craft made it possible to realize the design." — designers Dylan Davis & Jean Lee
"The Demeter table light is a study in materiality and balance with disproportionate shades that act as counterweights to create a double sided task light. I see the designs as moving sculptures, requiring the user to 'activate' them or adjust them to a specific need, while at the same time satisfying a requirement for illumination." — Karl Zahn
Want to invest in a Roll & Hill design? Here are some of their more affordable pieces!
The Roll & Hill showroom is now open at 3 Mercer Street in Manhattan. For more information, see rollandhill.com.