Jason Miller talks customized modern lighting capabilities, and turning taylor-made lighting into an art form with his lighting company, Roll & Hill.
Jason Miller founded the New York City-based lighting company Roll & Hill with the intention of making every piece on demand. His Brooklyn showroom is stocked with all manner of knobs, bulbs, and wires that come together in high-style fixtures such as the Agnes Chandelier and the Excel Sconce. Working with independent designers, nearly all of the lighting is customizable. We spoke with Miller about some of Roll & Hill’s more commonly customized pieces, and why he intentionally opts for designs with flexibility.
How do you operate so almost anything can be altered to the client’s specifications?
Jason Miller: We’re a manufacturing company so we license the designs from designers I believe in, and then exclusively produce them. We make 95% of our pieces on demand, which means that we don’t put anything together until the client is ready. And since we make things one at a time, we have the flexibility to customize almost anything. In the end, I’d say about a quarter of what we send out the door has been customized in some fashion. The system really works for our clients and us.
When you customize a piece, do you work directly with the interior designer?
JM: Yes. The process begins with them telling us what they want and showing us the space, and then we do a CAD design to present how it could work. Then we tweak from there. An example would be the Agnes Chandelier, which we customize all the time. Usually they want it to be bigger. For a residence by D’Apostrophe Design in New York, the designer wanted a 22-light configuration to fill a double-height space with a mezzanine overlooking it. In the end, I think it looks great.
Are there ways you could customize the Agnes other than making it bigger?
JM: Sure. We made a custom Agnes “swarm” in copper with cut-glass diffusers. Lindsey Adams Adelman, the Agnes designer, did it for an exhibition as a way of showing off the possibilities of the fixture. She sold it to a client of hers, but we can also take it apart and reuse the pieces. We’ve actually had a lot of people come to us and say that they’d moved, so could we change the size or hanging height to accommodate the new space, and we do that, as well.
Do you have other pieces you personalize a lot?
JM: The Rudi was designed to be a single loop, but we get a lot of requests for clusters from interior designers. We also do versions where the loops are joined together like chains. We’ve done different-sized loops and we’ve done them taller and shorter and fatter.
We can also change the canopy to match the room, which requires extra design and engineering. For instance, in a Paris residence, we did three loops of the Rudi and changed the canopy from round to square to match the room. Graphically, Rudi’s modern look was a nice counterpoint to the traditional detailing there, like the moldings. I also think it works well with high ceilings because it’s oriented vertically.
What about custom finishes?
JM: We do a lot of custom finishes. With the Halo chandelier, for instance, we have often done different finishes, including a custom gray for a home in the British Virgin Islands. The room is all dark wood and pale grays and having the polished gray toned down the Halo a little bit to go with the simplicity of this Caribbean home.
Have you ever had a particularly tricky space that required customization?
JM: We were doing an apartment in Manhattan that had a concrete ceiling with no outlets. We devised a Mini Endless pendant that plugs into the outlet and crawls up the ceiling. That was completely customized. I am the designer of this piece, and I knew I had to start on the wall and somehow get light into the room, so that defined what we were going to do. I chose a snaking shape, because I thought it would look better than a standard rectilinear one.
What about in a commercial setting?
JM: We have done lots of horizontal tubes of the Endless, but for a restaurant in Los Angeles called Hostaria del Piccolo, we made one that was 100 feet long. The chef and owner found our lights online and they were interested in having a single piece that would weave through the entire space. I think it was around 72 pieces. It feels warm in a slightly industrial the space. It’s a good fit.
Do you customize any of your smaller pieces, like the sconces?
JM: For a Brooklyn residence, the interior designer wanted gold plating for the metal pieces of the Counterweight and she wanted the marble backplate to match to the rest of the marble in the bathroom. That was quite a lot: we sourced the marble, had the backplate custom-made, and did it in gold. It’s subtle and doesn’t look flashy. I like the way it blends into the room.
How long does customization take?
JM: When we do something custom, we ask for a 16-week lead time. Normally it would be eight weeks. But that’s because we only stock the standard parts. We’re happy to do this and we actually use customizability as criteria when we’re picking designs. Having the design be flexible helps us in a lot of ways, and customization is one of them.
For more customized modern lighting ideas, shop all Roll & Hill.
The most difficult part of Jennie's role as Merchandise Manager for YLighting is deciding exactly which pendant she loves the most for her mid-century Oakland condo. When not making design decisions she and her 3 year old son compose songs to sing to the family's new baby.