Keith Miller - Missionary Man


Before I went off to college I thought I should be a missionary to Africa. Coming from a family and subculture of people committed to the underserved it seemed the logical step for me. Go to Africa and build huts for the homeless there. … ever felt an idea seeming absolutely right in the context of culture running like fingernails on a chalkboard against the grain of your soul? I didn’t have to visit Africa to realize very quickly there are uniquely gifted people cut from that cloth, and I was not one of them. I’m wildly energetic and very comfortable taking risks, so you’d think I'd be a missionary man, I’d have equipment for an adventurous life on the savannah. But I have a confession: I love clean hands and tidy rooms. I thrive in lush surroundings where nature and architecture collide in celebration of each other. I can’t help myself but to think up transcendent spaces filled with the splendor of whatever type of beauty suits the situation. And no matter where I travel on earth, I feel most at home, well … here at home - in the grandiose and broken USA. I am a melting pot Euro-mut American from the middle of this fine country living out loud the passions that bring people to life in their personal surroundings.


As often as I question the validity of my calling to orchestrate the design and execution of enlivening interior environments, I am equally reminded of the homeless I am housing. People with purpose running extraordinary lives filled with duties lost in the details of daily management seeking solace in insufficient spaces that sap the life right out of them. People who are charged with constructing systems and services that support families, communities, and nations. People with conviction to work out the troubles around them, overcoming great odds to enjoy profound success in their accomplishments. I have seen the exhaustion associated with that level of responsibility, and have found my life’s purpose in accommodating these remarkable people with the gifts I’ve been given that make meting out life and work on this harsh ball of water and clay a little easier to wake up to every day.


There's another population of people I've discovered I support with the work I employ. As an American growing up in the late 20th century, my eyes for people in need were always focused on communities in other countries. There was something satisfying to me then about having the means and wherewithal to hop over to someone else’s universe and change it for the better. What I overlooked in all those years are the exceptional artisans and craftsman in my own backyard who often take on any number of odd jobs to keep committed to their passion for fine work in art and design. Until I started designing fine custom furnishings for some of my clients, I had no idea how many brilliant minds have to come together to pull off something stunning and impeccable for the application requiring its use. When a client steps up to the plate to allow a community of craftsman to build them something truly wonderful, I watch with awe while I work with these individuals the mystery of nurturing an idea to its fullest potential as a real object in a harmonious setting – its purpose to garner daily delight from its observers – spirits now lifted to take on the day. That’s the type of mission I’m designed to man.