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Meet Hannah Miller of HRM Design in Silverlake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Miller.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Hannah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was lucky enough to have been raised in a family of creatives: architects, carpenters, sculptures, glass blowers, authors, and musicians. My family offered an amazing, supportive platform, allowing me to truly discover my love of design. At the age of 6, after experiencing a house my uncle had designed and my dad built, was the first time I expressed my interest in architecture. I spent most of my childhood sketching and building scale houses, and later taught myself my first 3D modeling program, Sketchup, and was finally able to design my first home. After graduating high school, I went straight into the Cal Poly Pomona architecture program. I explored all types of design strategies and carefully crafted my own architectural language. I also spent a year traveling Europe, visiting all the incredible architectural monuments I could only dream about in my textbooks. After 5 years of intense schooling, which pushed me beyond my psychological and physical limits, I graduated with a professional degree in architecture.

I entered the workforce with a few years experience from interning and went straight into a great firm, JZMK Partners, as a designer. I worked directly with a few amazing designers who allowed me to actually have a role in the design process. I was their sole graphics producer for all of the projects in the design stage. I then decided to take the risk of quitting my job and entering the world of independent contracting.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
HELL NO.

Five years of architecture school made me question everything. If it was worth it; if I really loved the design that much; if I was good enough to even be an architect. 5 straight days of no sleep in order to finish my senior project was the most intense position I’ve ever in, but I am so glad I didn’t give up.

And quitting my job to become an independent contractor was definitely a struggle. Going from a steady paycheck with full benefits and vacation days to a life of total instability was a shock. Some weeks I’d have multiple projects to juggle, and others I’d be lucky if I had one. Living paycheck to paycheck can be rough when the paychecks aren’t always coming on time. I went a whole week living on a carton of eggs just praying my next check would come in the mail on time. I’ve learned how to manage my finances much better now to prepare for the slow patches of work, which are thankfully coming less frequently now. Again, glad I didn’t give up when times got hard because things only seemed to get better from there!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with HRM Design – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My main focuses are architecture, space planning, virtual reality, art installation, and festival design. I design, render, project manage and personally build various project types.

My love for architecture was stemmed from exploring the houses my uncle designed, so my main focus has been on residential projects. Currently, I help refine designs and curate virtual experiences for housing projects. This led me to explore new platforms of presentation, and here I found my love of virtual reality. Bringing a 2D drawing to life in a 3D model is a great way to understand a design, but navigating the spaces in virtual reality is breathtaking. I partnered up with a friend, Mark Giles – the VR expert, and we began exploring the possibilities of this new reality. From allowing clients to walk through their unbuilt houses to internet users navigating a gallery full of real artwork they can purchase, he and I worked together to create a seamless virtual experience while testing the capabilities of the program. I’ve also begun exploring 3D printing projects for myself and clients and even produced a bronze cast plack outside of Great White Cafe in Venice.

I also began branching out of the typical boundaries of architecture and started project managing small remodels and art installation. Leading a team of multiple professionals, I was responsible for fully realizing the client’s idea in a reasonable fashion. My favorite project was an installation for the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery for the artist Mary Corse. Working with Hughes Umbanhowar Architects, a cold room specialist, a contractor, the gallery and the artist, we managed to create something beautiful. A simple, sleek, white box, held at a temperature of 30 degrees, created the perfect space frozen in time for one to fully embrace her Telsa coil lit glowing artwork hung inside.

I also offer stage layout consulting and rendering for concerts and festivals. For my primary client, The Marketing Factory, I build their designs in 3D, assist in the concept imagery, and the fine tuning the design and space. I work directly with the production manager and designer to create the most efficient layout and most aesthetically appealing stage.

I’ve also had the unique opportunity to merge my love of music and design by creating something I would have never dreamed of: a music festival. My music and arts collective, Jackson Collective, puts on a bi-annual festival in the desert called: Jackson Tree. My role as a designer is to help curate a special experience for every visitor. I do the larger scale spacial planning, organizing a layout that embraces all the unique activities we offer on site. From creating the campgrounds, the stage and dance floor, a shaded chill area for yoga and ted talks, a casino and an instrumental jam area, every small landmark is placed with intention. I also lead the build team, where we’ve crafted stages, geodesic domes and shade structures all on a tight budget. I’ve been lucky enough to see several of my designs come to life thanks to a team of dedicated creatives and countless hours of labor. Outside of my festival, I offer consulting services helping other collectives create their own designs, and occasionally build some myself. Last year, I built the effigy for the Big Fire Comedy Festival and watched as it sequentially followed my specific burn path until lighting off the fireworks hidden inside.

I’m most proud of the diverse range of projects I’ve been able to work on, which has given me unique experience outside of the typical architecture world. I am lucky enough to explore new ideas, build my own designs, and push the boundaries of architecture. I believe my curiosity and drive sets me apart from others. Because I never gave up on finding my true passion for design, I discovered new opportunities I would have never imagined before becoming an independent contractor.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My future is set on moving home and apprenticing under my uncle, the original designer who inspired my love in architecture. I plan on continuing part-time as an independent contractor working on festival design while studying to pass the 6 architecture license tests. My hope is to work under him to learn everything I can and, eventually, begin building my own houses as a licensed architect.

I also plan on continuing with Jackson Collective throwing our festival for as long as I can as well. I hope to keep building bigger and more exciting structures out in the desert as we continue to grow.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mark Giles, Eric Miller Architects, Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery, Conner Lee Photography

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