Tucked away on the third floor of a sprawling waterfront building in Industry City, a team of 12 men and women assemble some of the design world’s most recognizable light fixtures by hand.
The modern fixtures, many by renowned Brooklyn-based lighting designers like Lindsey Adelman and Paul Loebach, will be made to order and shipped off to wealthy customers in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Middle East from Roll & Hill, a thriving lighting manufacturing company founded by Jason Miller in 2010.
Roll & Hill works with a carefully curated group of 19 designers to produce about 500 high-end light fixtures a year from 35 different product lines. Prices range from $50 for a candlestick to $25,000 for a chandelier, but the company mostly sells fixtures in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
“There are a lot of lighting companies out there and many of them produce relatively cheap things in Asia and then they put them in a warehouse and they distribute them. You can run a great lighting business doing that,” said Miller, Roll & Hill’s CEO and creative director. “We were trying to do something different. We wanted to be able to do interesting designs that may or may not sell by volumes and we also wanted to be able to customize things as interior designers would request them.”
Miller, an artist by training, was designing a variety of products for his eponymous design studio when his now-ubiquitous antler chandelier suddenly catapulted the lighting portion of his business.
“It just happened to be a light and people liked it and it kind of took off,” Miller said. “It was the things being self-produced but specifically the lights that were being self-produced that took off quicker than anything else, and that became a much larger portion of the business.”
That’s when Miller saw an opportunity to license and produce his own lighting designs and those of a few other up-and-coming designers. He started Roll & Hill from a space in Greenpoint, catering mainly to the design trade. About 80 percent of the customers are interior designers and architects, although anyone can buy Roll & Hill fixtures online or from the Manhattan showroom.
“We produce everything on demand and locally, so if a designer wants something in a different finish or a different size we can do that because we make it here,” Miller said.
The company now employs 62 people and occupies 40,000 square feet in Industry City, and it will expand again into a third office space next year. Miller scouts new designers and works with its current designers to turn their sketches and ideas into new products.
About half of his designers come from Brooklyn, where Miller is part of a flourishing lighting scene. They include Bec Brittain, Fort Standard, James Killinger, Jason Miller, Karl Zahn, Ladies & Gentleman Studio, Rich Brilliant Willing and Rosie Li.
Some, like Adelman, who also has a studio in Industry City, produce and sell other lines separate from Roll & Hill; other designers don’t produce on their own at all.
“What’s great about it for us is there are so many designers here and we all know each other and we all have a healthy amount of ego and therefore competition but in a good way,” Miller said. “We’re pushing each other to do more and better things. And that’s kind of fun. You see a good friend of yours doing something great and there’s an immediate feeling of ‘Oh, I’ve got to do something great’ and that can be kind of disheartening but most of the time it’s fun and energetic.”
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