It all began with a rug and a young maverick with a bit of wanderlust. Stephen Miller studied Arts & Humanities in college and might have become a professional photographer if it were not for a trek he took through Europe and North Africa. During his travels, Stephen discovered a passion for early tribal cultures and the hand-woven rugs that were so central to their way of life. He learned how each tribe raised sheep and hand-spun their wool. Like alchemists, they skillfully developed native plant dyes and wove rug designs on hand-made looms. Each rug design uniquely identified its maker’s tribe or region from others. Rugs were not only functional, but ceremonial, as well – often made for weddings, rites of passage and other ceremonial occasions and handed down from generation to generation.
A natural appreciation for cultural diversity led Stephen to a deeper exploration of hand-woven rugs from different eras and locales. He developed relationships with rug makers, dealers and importers from around the globe as he began to collect rugs and then established his own business in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1970s.
“The more I travel, the more I realize that a fine rug is like a window across time. It combines natural elements,human energy and history in an enduring art form.”
In 1991, he moved his business to Menlo Park, California, attracted by the multi-cultural and intellectual vitality and entrepreneurial spirit of the area. From day one, interior designers have appreciated Stephen Miller’s keen eye for design and workmanship characteristic of the finest rugs and his awareness of changing customer preferences in architecture, home furnishings and art.
Over the years, he has collected a rich variety of hand-woven vintage and antique Oriental and Persian rugs and developed a loyal clientele. His tendency to be an early adopter of innovative designs has helped make Stephen Miller Gallery one of Northern California’s most respected collections of contemporary rugs. As consumers discover the defining characteristics and lasting value of hand-woven rugs – even with more contemporary pieces – their appreciation grows for authenticity, quality and timeless appeal. Today, the gallery’s thriving custom-order business blends old world weaving techniques and the best of nature’s rug materials with new designs and colors that appeal to customers.