Q&A with Kit Miles, of Kit Miles Studio

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BHN spoke to Kit Miles, founder of Kit Miles Studio, about its collaboration with Minotti London and the future of hotel textile design.

How did you get into hospitality?

"I came from the Royal College of Art, and my professors recommended I looked into hospitality and boutique hotels. I was then given £500 by my grandma to take part in the 100% Design event, and that's when I got my first few clients."

"You've got to be tough to survive. If you come to the table without a purpose, it shows. And that's a healthy filter, as it makes the industry meaningful. If you've really got it buzzing through the centre of you, then you can use that to empower other people, and that's how I see the system."

"Hospitality suited me as a person, because I love the larger than life in this world. Hospitality gives the designers an opportunity to create something that leaves a deep impression on someone. You can be more experimental and innovative with testing an interior's concept."

How did the collaboration with Minotti London come about?

"When I was very young, about 10, I remember delivering Minotti furniture with my father who worked in luxury haulage. As a young kid I would place the furniture (although not officially) in the final stages of a project. The quality and fidelity of these interiors were staggering, and Minotti has therefore been present in my consciousness for a very long time."

"In the last six months I was introduced to Anke Summerhill, who runs the Minotti showroom here in London. I showed her my collection, and I think my early childhood exposure had somehow informed this taste level - it all folded in. My patterns are combined in a sophisticated way with modernist architectural details that seems very relevant to the Minotti style."

"Despite the manifest difference - we have motifs and patterns, and then we have furniture - they complement each other really well. They're not jostling for position - they both have a really clear point of view. And they both must have gone through a very rigorous design process to give them that clarity."

You've touched upon the modern aspects of Minotti, yet some of your designs are inspired by the classical. How does the traditional inform the future of design?

"I don't see it as traditional. Tradition is tied up with habit and I don't want to be involved with that. I like to look really deeply into our human history because it forms continuity in our existence. I think it's important because we need this as guidance - to know where we've come from, and to help us to figure out where we're going. We all have a shared history and it's important to connect with that. It makes design full of soul."

"It's also about collaboration. I've managed to build this cache of designs which me and my studio are incredibly proud of. How I see it, at this moment in time, is that we've developed a palette for interior designers to draw from, and we're now giving them the baton of creativity."

"When I started, there was a real lack of opinion on the market. It seemed that no risks were being taken. Understandably it was the recession - big businesses can't think and behave in the way a startup can - yet there was amazing opportunity to develop a new way of approaching things. We came in with imagination and colour, with damasks made of stripes, and birds with jewellery in their beaks, or oversized geometrics. Since then, I've noticed that people are more brave and embracing their authentic selves."

"We're not a trend-led company, and cultures change because people are becoming less satisfied with being told what to do or how to think. It's a decade of self-empowerment, and we've moved into a space where I believe smaller collections will be launched in limited runs more regularly throughout the year - we will essentially create a small amount of stock that becomes highly specialised."

How do your designs speak to the boutique sector?

"Our designs have a very strong and unique identity, and where it comes to hotels there's an imperative to somehow have these environments live within guests long after they've gone."

"Our design language is quite potent and it resonates deeply in the heart of people because of its artistry and its bravery and unabashed creativity. And this serves the hotel sector really well because it's not purely about novelty any more - it's about meaning. And the meaning we transmit sings within the rooms as well as the people inside that room… it forges a memory."

"We take our testing very seriously - our flame retardant testing, our fabric rub counts - we're very developed on that side. Emotionally, we've understood deeply what it means to enter this environment, and from a technical standpoint we understand the unique pressures and needs of the designers. When all that's out the way, we can all have fun and create wonder."

Tell us about your collection on display in the Minotti London showroom.

"The great thing about our collection is that every design asks you to look more closely. The Emperor Damask is one of our more neutral designs, and its made of coils of stripes which are then twisted and pulled into a shape of a damask. I see this design as completely reinventing the stripe. In fact, I see my work as inspecting the fundamental forms of pattern. As a whole, it is steeped in the understanding of textiles and its continuity in history, which we want to push into the future. We have one foot in the familiar and one foot outside."

"We have the Stairway to Utopia, where essentially I wanted to break the diamond pattern so it wasn't so regimented. That way, the asymmetry brings something more humane to our walls - there's imperfections which I think we need to embrace more in design and bring to the front. For a relatively small investment, you can bring so much value to a project by elevating the taste level of walls with artful patterns that are led by imagination."

"The Diagonal Gradient is a thorough investigation into the proximity of colour and hue to create a pattern. The pattern is therefore born out of colour adjacencies only, and creates this wonderful geometric effect. We get this fabric woven and then printed in an Italian mill in Florence, and the soft pile is achieved from splitting the velvet with a blade as it comes off the loom. We're working on a few hotel projects with this fabric at the moment because it's so iconic, and because the colours are warm and romantic. It's ideal for pairing with our plain wallpapers which are designed specifically for the trade."

Given the complexity of your work, what research is necessary to inform design and production?

"My research is not so structured in that way. It has to be fun and it has to be informed, but it's about developing instincts. When it comes to suppliers, we take a factory under our wing and show them our way. We set the bar with production and fabrication as high as our client's demand, if not higher. Ultimately it's with the shared aim of creating our best work that not only serves our client, but surprises them."

What's your vision for the future?

"I'm open to anything at this point; as long as it's about creating meaningful and wonderful spaces, then all is invited. I would love to partner with a hotel group later down the line and maybe create a Kit Miles hotel. We're truly not biased, yet we're looking for designers with a shared vision. In terms of upcoming hotel projects, we'd have to take a flight to America and the Far East."

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