Landing in Melbourne after working on prestigious public and commercial projects in Hong Kong, New Zealand-born designer Luke Mills brings a unique outlook to his craft.
The designer grew up in the small, South Island coastal city of Nelson, where he spent his days tinkering, painting and exploring outdoors, and later found Industrial Design studies to be a natural fit at university. As a graduate, Luke freelanced, creating custom furniture designs for clients, before an exciting opportunity to work abroad arose.
For two years in Hong Kong, Luke worked with national museums and high-end companies on exhibition spaces. ‘I spent a lot of my spare time in Hong Kong prototyping furniture and lighting designs, so when we landed in Melbourne in 2015, I was dead keen to pursue this path,’ adds Luke.
Earlier this year, the designer launched his creative brand, Lumil, focusing on material exploration and customisation. His Raw Series arose from ambitions to create a clean lighting design that could be presented in an array of materials – from traditional turned timber, to more experimental pieces focusing on renewable materials.
Another standout, the Hat Pendants, meld Luke’s artistic flair with his manufacturing acumen, including skills he learned though taking ceramics night classes in HK. ‘I wanted these designs to find a balance between art and function,’ he explains. ‘In the end this was achieved through the materiality: the spun aluminium shades come in modest colours, and act as a sort of canvas for the ceramic “hats”.’
Luke’s aware of his tendency to try to do everything himself, yet his time in HK instilled the value of outsourcing and working with experts in their respective fields. ‘Melbourne has been amazing in this regard, there is a strong under current of traditional manufacturing and locally-made design; this has really allowed me to explore areas outside of my own capabilities and begin to develop interesting material combinations and forms,’ tells the designer. His favourite part of the design process is hands-down discovering new ‘treasure troves of inspiration and manufacturing knowledge’ throughout Victoria. ‘I turn into a kid in candy store!’ he jokes!
Luke Mills’ pendant lights are available from the Lumil website, here. His other furniture and custom designs, including collaborations with local designers such as Life Space Journey, can be browsed here.