Image: Mexy Xavier; Light painting: Neha Mithbawkar & Arpit Jain; Outfit: Bodice
Aashti Miller | 29
Founder, MillerInk S
ince her childhood, Aashti Miller was surrounded by positive, creative influences. Born to a fine artist mother and an architect father, she was exposed to creativity from a young age and museum visits during vacations were par for the course. “Being in that environment with inspiration all around gave me a critical eye from a really young age,” she says. Seeing her father build a successful architecture practice from scratch made her appreciate the value of hard work and perseverance.
Miller, 29, a Cornell graduate, is a Mumbai-based architect who founded her design practice, MillerInk, with the aim of uniting her professional career as an architect with her passion for illustration and graphic design. Miller’s commitment to blending these two seemingly disparate fields has, over the years, helped her develop a unique style—that combines constructed and painted elements, digital and analogue techniques in addition to being two and three dimensional.
This has led to unique global and local collaborations with brands such as Michael Kors, Cred, St+art India Foundation. She also designed unique medals for the four marathons in India in 2020, in collaboration with Procam International.
In one of her latest works for Art & Found, who approached her on behalf of fintech company Cred to be an artist for the brand’s Money Art series, her design reimagines a new world unified by a single digital currency. “The artwork comprises 14 layers, each one illustrating elements from different world currencies. They are composed and superimposed together to create something entirely new that’s representative of every geography,” says Miller.
Also read: Rithika Pandey: Imagining a much-more integrated world
Her illustration work has impacted the public realm through murals painted in Delhi and Chennai for the Goethe Institute, as well as in Birmingham, UK, for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Giulia Ambrogi, co-founder and curator of St+art India Foundation, discovered Miller’s work thanks to a call out for a project in collaboration with Goethe Institute, where she was seeking young illustrators.
“Aashti Miller’s language was fresh and direct, inspired by architecture in its precision and compositional aesthetic,” she says. “I felt there was a great potential for her work to inhabit the large canvases offered by the most diverse city’s surfaces.”
Talking of how she approaches her work, Miller says she follows the philosophy of ‘more is better’. “I consider myself a maximalist. I like to add as many details as possible so that people always find something new each time they look at my work. This is also a reflection of how my mind works. At any time, I always have a million ideas swirling in my head, which manifest in everything I work on. It’s my version of organised chaos,” she adds. View the full list of Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023 here
Miller considers anxiety her biggest challenge. “I’ve always had it but channelling it into work is how I manage it. I work all the time to keep up both parts of my life—architecture and graphic design. Because if I didn’t, the anxiety would probably get to me.”
“It’s also led to an obsessiveness with detail in my work that I have come to think of as my ‘style’, so I’m not sure what my work would look like without it,” she thinks aloud.
“It is amazing how Aashti’s mind can sort and organise while simultaneously also shuffle and blend ideas and disciplines,” says Anthony Markese, principal at Pickard Chilton, an architecture firm based in Connecticut, recognised internationally for design excellence. Miller has worked with Markese on a variety of projects ranging from large urban masterplans to individual spaces.
“Aashti’s gift has always been her ability to absorb, filter and incorporate a full spectrum of visual and cultural influences in her work. Engineering, architecture, sculpture, and painting, viewed through the bi-focal lens of her home in India and her adopted home in the US, coalesce to create compelling spaces, images, and stories,” he says.
(This story appears in the 10 February, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)