We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Miles J Rice ("MJR").
Rice & Rice Fine Furniture was founded by Miles Jason Rice with the vision to create timeless yet unexpected pieces of design furniture, created with honesty and appreciation for the material, the crafts and the design. Following in the footsteps of the artisan-craftsmen of the British isles, Miles is a self-taught furniture designer, whose mantra is: "You cannot teach passion." This allows Miles to take inspiration from traditional designs and manufacturing processes, whilst allowing him to push far beyond these to create his very own visual language. The first major series of works designed by Miles was a collection of coffee and dining tables design that is pushing the boundaries not only of craftsmanship but also of table design. This collection clearly shows the key sources of inspiration for Miles. He draws inspiration from the beauty and specific properties of the materials. Equally important as a source of inspiration is modern architecture and art, especially installations and sculptures that play with the characteristics of the materials. Thirdly, Miles is a strong admirer of craftsmanship, working with selected masters of their crafts to develop and produce his designs. These very different sources of inspiration create a fusion of craftsmanship, the beauty of the material and creativity. The unique design of the Sculptura dining table was recognized at the 2019 Best Of Year awards of the Interior Design magazine, one of the most prestigious awards in interior and furniture design, as an Honoree. Working with some of the best craftspeople in Europe, Rice & Rice Fine Furniture is pushing furniture design and manufacturing beyond what is common for their profession when working in wood, glass, brass, marble and other materials.
Miles J Rice Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Miles J Rice.
Designer Interview of Miles J Rice:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
MJR : As with some of the best furniture designers in the world, such as Joseph Walsh, Sam Maloof and James Krenow, I came in at a different angle as I never studied design. Like the aforementioned, I found my unique visual language by building until I discovered designs that were uniquely different from other furniture out there whilst having a common theme between them.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MJR : We started with a small design workshop in Luxembourg and an office in London. Our plans for 2020 are big. We are opening our own showroom with other featured craftspeople in historic premises dating back to the 14th century.
DI: What is "design" for you?
MJR : Beauty meets function.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MJR : I enjoy designing pieces that are sculptural yet timeless, that are becoming part of the owner's life. An important aspect of the design is also the craftsmanship of the finished piece. For me, standout design and superb craftsmanship need to go hand in hand.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MJR : One of my favourite designs is the Sculptura dining table as for me this was the breakthrough in finding my personal visual language. I am also working on some exciting new designs.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MJR : I designed a coffee table for an analogue music recording studio in Germany. It was important to capture the tradition and romance of analogue recording in the design.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MJR : My favourite material will always be high-quality hardwood. Timeless and classic.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
MJR : I usually design, pencil to paper, early in the morning. Long before the pencil touches the paper, I visualize my designs in my head, when sightseeing or on walks in nature.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MJR : I always first think about how the design will look in its surroundings. My vision is for my designs to be lived with, to fulfil their function and to stand proud amongst other objects of beauty.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MJR : This is very difficult to describe. It seems like the design ideas just come in my head like flashes of images.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MJR : Designs often go through various alterations until you get to the version that just works and no further alterations could make it better. When I can see my designs realized I feel a sense of achievement.
DI: What makes a design successful?
MJR : A design is successful when it stirs emotions, when it is possible to make and when it simply works as a piece of furniture.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MJR : For me, it is important to create timeless pieces of furniture, that become family heirloom. Family is the most important unit of society as it shapes us to who we are. I want my pieces of furniture to live with families across generations. This also benefits the environment as these pieces do not end up filling up landfills.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
MJR : New designs will come and go, but great designs will stay. I strongly believe that designers must be responsible for the longevity of their designs, that are not just following short-lived trends or need upgrading.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MJR : As I truly believe in making unique pieces of furniture, I try not to be inspired by new styles of furniture or trends. I do, however, like to be inspired by nature and modern art sculptures. I design sculptural pieces with great respect to the natural material, such as high-quality hardwood. This is also the reason why I do not use pre-fabricated pieces of laminated wood for my designs. The material and the craft become an integral part of the design.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
MJR : I would describe it as English modern style, very distinctly different and sculpturally contemporary.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MJR : The design process starts in my head, visualizing shapes and forms interacting with their surroundings. A very important part of this visualization is thinking of the use, of a specific surrounding for the design. Once I “dream up” a design that is both sitting proudly in its intended space and is unique and surprising, I start drawing pencil on paper. The next step is building models to finetune the designs.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MJR : My Bialetti Venus espresso maker, my watch collection, my vintage hand planes including one that had belonged to my grandad, a dining table I built myself and an heirloom chair handed down from my wife’s great grandparents.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MJR : Come in with a fresh view. Build and make until you find what works and identify your own style. Do not become influenced by trends.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MJR : There is always the worry if I will be able to come up with another great design. The positive aspect is the feeling of excitement when I spent many hours building a model, finish it, stand back and it just works.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MJR : Function, form, and beauty combined, realised at the highest quality craftsmanship.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
MJR : Be a dreamer, dream up what has not been created before.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MJR : I work all analogue, pencil on paper and building scale-size models out of wood using woodworking hand tools.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MJR : It can take from a month to several months. Sometimes I come back much later to rework what has not worked in the past.
DI: What was your most important job experience?
MJR : Being recognised on the world stage through awards and competitions. As a self-trained designer getting positive feedback from experts very early in my design career was such a great and encouraging experience.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MJR : I am working on some big plans including opening our own showrooms, launching an online magazine and working on some big collaborations with experts of other crafts.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MJR : I am currently working on a big collection of hand-sculpted gallery pieces.
DI: How can people contact you?
MJR : We are always open to new ideas. Just call.