Thinking September 8, 2017

Influences: Chris Miller

chris miller
Chris Miller
Creative Director
people of influence

In this series we speak to our team, partners and friends to find out the books, the people and all the other things that inspire and influence them.

Creative Director Chris Miller leads our product design and experiential spaces teams. In a few weeks, he will step on stage at the Frontiers Conference 2017 Milano for a discussion with Federico Ferretti, Founder and Head of Design Innovation Center of Midea. Their topic of conversation will be design for connected objects. Product design is entwined with the immaterial manifestation of the objects, aesthetics on one side and digital on the other. How do we design for a connected world? Read more about the Frontiers Conference here, and scroll down for Chris’s recommendations.


Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindström

The most important part of our work is gaining significant insights. This book shows that empathy is much more important than large amounts of data, charts and projections.

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

I would recommend this one to everyone. It’s a very readable book that explains in simple terms how the geographical features of the globe define how world leaders act today. It is not that related to design, but it gives a much better understanding of the world we live in today.

From The Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium by William Dalrymple

I’m not sure this can be called an influence, but it’s a fascinating book that shows how there is a much more direct link between what we consider history and how the world is today. The author travels through Turkey and the Middle East, retracing the steps of sixth-century monk John Moschos, who wrote a book describing his tour of the Christian world – today’s Middle East – in search of the holiest places and people. Dalrymple visits the same sites and compares what Moschos saw 1,500 years ago with the situation today.

Culture Series by Iain M Banks​

What will a future with humans and AI Robots living together as equals look like? A future where everyone’s position and health are constantly monitored by a centralized, super-intelligent AI? Where people can live effectively for ever, and no one has to work as everything is provided (although some people work for the experience)? These books will give you a pretty good idea. The real value is in how the Culture (the future evolution of humankind) interacts with other civilizations in the galaxy – in a way that is eerily reflected in today’s war of civilizations. Written 30 years ago, the series still seems incredibly prescient today, which is the hallmark of all good science fiction. On a side note, as a posthumous tribute to Iain Banks, aerospace manufacturer SpaceX named two of its autonomous spaceport drone ships after sentient star ships Just Read the Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You which first appeared in the novel ​The Player of Games.


In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg

The format of this BBC Radio 4 podcast is incredibly simple – get three academics around a table to discuss a subject for 45 minutes. From Babylon to Kepler, from Zeno’s Paradoxes to Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, the subjects have an extremely wide range covering history, philosophy, science… everything. And the discussions are always recorded live!

The innovation Ramble

This podcast ran until 2015, so it is perhaps not entirely up to date, and it seems like they are not recording any more. In any case, the two presenters discuss innovations around various subjects. Innovation is often linked to technology, though the podcast is not limited to just that.

50 Things that Made the Modern Economy

In this BBC World Service podcast, the journalist and the author of The Undercover Economist ​tells fascinating stories of 50 inventions, ideas and innovations that have helped create the economic world.


Gino Colombini

An industrial designer and architect, who worked as the technical director of Kartell from 1953 to 1960, Colombini used plastic in new, innovative ways to create products that are deceptively simple. He experimented with the possibilities of the material and revolutionized small, reasonably priced everyday objects, turning them from drab and ​colorless into colorful and modern. He won five Compasso d’Oro awards between 1955 and 1960.

Joe Colombo

Joe Colombo was an Italian industrial designer. I remember visiting the exhibition of his work, and it reminded me of why I became a designer. Simple, fun, creative takes on everyday objects.