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Industrial Revolution

Poppin’s Jeff Miller finds design inspiration in unexpected, everyday places

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Industrial Revolution

Jeff Miller

JEFF MILLER’S a-ha moment came in the form of shampoo bottle caps and telephone housings. “I was always arts-oriented as a kid, though more interested in solving problems than making a statement,” says the vp of product design for modern office product design company Poppin (New York). “I thought I would have to be an architect or graphic designer, but I was fascinated with things, not buildings or print.”

Those aforementioned things – the way a shampoo bottle cap made from a single piece of plastic clicked open and shut, or the random, unsightly placement of screws and holes on the underside of a telephone – got the wheels spinning for what would eventually become Miller’s dream job. In 1990, he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in industrial design and launched a career that would span decades and involve work with an impressive collection of clients, including Apple, Bosch, Herman Miller, Motorola and Samsung.

At Poppin, he leads the team charged with creating functional and colorful office products, such as furniture solutions that are easily deployed around the office to give workers a respite from the noise and distraction sometimes found in open offices. Miller credits the likes of Poul Kjaerholm, Michele De Lucchi and Lievore Altherr Molina as some of his biggest design influences, though he notes that structures and forms of the built world around him constantly leave him inspired. “From disposable wrappings to sign posts to Siamese standpipes, there’s daily beauty to be abstracted and reinterpreted everywhere.”

As for what’s next, the company plans to move deeper into some of its more successful categories such as storage, seating, desking and writing and expand into others not yet explored, including tech and travel accessories. “We think of Poppin as a lifestyle brand for work – ‘workstyle.’ So there’s plenty of ground to cover.”

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