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Follow the Light: feel the ‘Intensity’ of lights at Milan Design Week 2023
Tempo by Kate Greenberg at Alcova
Image: Sahra Jajarmikhayat

Follow the Light: feel the ‘Intensity’ of lights at Milan Design Week 2023

Ahead of Salone del Mobile 2023, STIR curates a list of showcases, installations, and talks that integrate sustainability and other crucial messaging in the medium of light.  

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Apr 16, 2023

Analogous to almost all man-made inventions that were initially built to serve a function, and later evolved into objects that could alternatively encapsulate the artistic imagination of their creators, lights and lamps, too, have begun to serve as vessels that can hold the visceral imaginations of those who conceive them. To platform these creative digressions is, hence, just as imperative as the acknowledgement of quirky and deviant furniture design, nonsensical, yet instinctually driven products, and sustainable projects. While the immateriality of light may sometimes hide its inconspicuous impact on the environment, the recent surge in conversations around sustainability have revealed that the capacity of the lighting design industry in contaminating the environment is significant. Hence, a necessity emerges, for designs that are more consciously conceptualised, and that emit, apart from light, a thoughtful message, pertaining to sustainable practices, but also concerning other essential extant issues.

Ahead of the upcoming Salone del Mobile.Milano, and its accompanying lighting biennial Euroluce, STIR curates a series of products, exhibitions, installations, and talks—scheduled to go on stage during the design week—that effuse sustainable innovations and inventive ideas pertaining to lighting design, and that inspire the audience to view the creative field through an alternate lens.

ALE.01 Light by Hassell for Artemide

ALE.01 (Adaptive Lighting Experience) is a suspended lamp created by Australia-based design practice Hassell, for Italian light manufacturer Artemide. The lamp is Hassell’s first attempt at product design, and akin to their other ventures, is a novel and sustainable attempt at innovation. Set to be unveiled at Salone del Mobile this year, the lamp, crafted using recycled and recyclable materials, follows and promotes circular design. The shell of the lamp is made using a biocomposite material that contains 30 per cent natural wood fibres that are mixed with recycled polymers. The lamp design utilises materials such as FSC-certified wood waste acquired from the production of bottle stoppers manufactured for the spirits industry.

The ALE.01 lamp is built to adjust to different lighting requirements at different times of the day. It uses two different light emissions and provides several options to adjust the brightness and luminosity of the luminaire. “With the support of Artemide’s experience, we designed the geometry of each optical emission to achieve almost zero glaring effect. Creating the right curve of the body was crucial to achieve a perfect lighting diffusion and the right amount of LED for the best lighting performance, not wasting energy while enhancing wellbeing,” says Federico Venier, associate at Hassell and project leader for ALE.01. The design of the lamp also shields the light sources at certain angles to ensure a glare-free illumination.

Constellations by Beppe Finessi and Formafantasma

Constellations is one of the multidisciplinary exhibitions, which is spread along the distribution path of the four pavilions at Euroluce. Segregated into seven different exhibition spaces, the entire region at Euroluce will be unified by a distinct architectural language. The exhibition, designed by Formafantasma, comprises the showcase of lighting objects, curated by Beppe Finessi. The exhibition will be housed within a modular display system devised by Formafantasma. Made using wood and paper, the light display system can be reused and recycled after the fair. Each of the components making up the modular system can be disassembled. Housed within this consciously designed space are lamps and luminaires by the likes of Aldo Mondino, François Morellet, Keith Sonnier, Andrea Bowers, Sislej Xhafa, Corrado Levi, Nanda Vigo, Mathieu Mercier, Duccio Maria Gambi and Valentin Ruhry, among others.

Enlightenment by Ron Gilad + Nemo

Enlightenment, a special project by artist and designer Ron Gilad, will be presented by Nemo Lighting in Milan, Italy. The project is an attempt at narrating the paradoxical experience of light. The display will include previously unseen works and installations that bear the capacity of engaging the audience through stimulating interactions that may change the conventional idea of lighting and lamps. The installation aims to raise the question: 'What are we talking about when we talk about light?' The exhibition will serve as a marker of change—in conventional conversations surrounding light. “The installation offers a dynamic experience resulting from a dialogue between the light, the object and the performer. It aims to playfully subvert our everyday perceptions of light, form and space, using movement, time and irony, in order to challenge our preconceptions and open new ways of seeing light objects,” shares Ron Gilad. “Through the use of various techniques, such as reflection, refraction, diffusion, colour, sound and video, the behaviour of light is choreographed and manipulated, questioning the relationship between the light source and the space it occupies”, he adds.

Tempo by Kate Greenberg

American designer Kate Greenberg's Tempo is an immersive showcase to be presented at Alcova during the design festival. The exposition, comprising Greenberg's installations, Felled Sky, Radiator and Milk Bench, are reinterpretations of home apparatus. Each object in the collection aims to elicit unexpected sensations. Tempo is envisioned as an installation that mimics the indoor objects of the near future. Greenberg imagines dynamic objects that mirror the tempo and temperament of Earth. While Felled Sky is an overhead lighting sculpture crafted using aluminium and glass, Radiator is a wall-hugging apparatus that emits red atmospheric light, infusing the surrounding space with a sensation of warmth, and Milk Bench, crafted out of aluminium and latex, is both a seating furniture and a sound dampener.

In using luminosity as the protagonist of the exposition, Greenberg harnesses the provisions of lighting design to convey the natural processes of diurnal routines. This serves as an example of the potential of light in serving not only as a tool to illuminate spaces but also as an integral part of furniture and sculptural pieces. “The transition from our survival among nature to domestic, interior lives happened gradually over hundreds of thousands of years; as a result, we have accepted our furniture for what it is and what it does for us. However, there is value in pausing and questioning whether there is an alternative furniture for some unacknowledged needs or even one that does not abide by humans at all. Tempo seeks to encourage visitors to consider the manipulation of materials and emblems that inform their understanding of the space and to question the significance of the industrially-designed objects that surround us in our homes and daily life. ,” shares Greenberg.

Talks at Euroluce

While exhibitions and displays of products and ideas pertaining to innovative thought in the realm of lighting design serve as means for engaging all the senses, and beckoning myriad points of view, talks and discussions, albeit more theoretical, help take these ideas and thoughts to the next level—where pragmatic solutions and tangible processes can be discussed. These discussions help us understand the possibility of integrating lighting design in arenas of planning, design and architecture. In lieu of this thought, we enlist four talks—curated by Annalisa Rosso, editorial director of Salone del Mobile—that ponder on lights, their design, and the practice of lighting design.

A Conversation with Snøhetta: Continuous State of Reinvention

The talk, moderated by freelance journalist, design critic and creative strategy consultant Anne-France Berthelon, will platform Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founder of Snøhetta and Marius Myking, founder and director of Product Design at Snøhetta. Scheduled to be held on April 21, 2023, the talk, circling around the topic Continuous State of Reinvention, will witness a discussion on Snøhetta’s approach in design, as well as their plans of harnessing lighting as a design tool and a means for propagating awareness pertaining to sustainability.

A Conversation with Shigeru Ban: Balancing Architectural Works and Social Contributions

The conversation with Shigeru Ban will pivot on the topic of Balancing Architectural Works and Social Contributions. Moderated by Yoko Choy, China Editor, Wallpaper*, the talk will witness the renowned Japanese architect and former Pritzker Prize winner, discuss his social and environmental commitments, his reflections on the integration of light in design, as well as the usage of inexpensive and sustainable materials such as cardboard and bamboo, in his practice. The talk, to be held on April 19, will also explore the potential of wood in architecture, as well as the future of architecture at the intersection of sustainability, lighting design, and innovation.

A Conversation with Nao Tamura: Interconnection

This talk with Japanese designer Nao Tamura, moderated by Felix Burrichter, creative director, PIN–UP, scheduled to be held on April 20, 2023, aims to discuss the multidisciplinary nature of Tamura’s work. The designer’s balanced integration of environmentally sound mechanisms, traditional workmanship techniques, innovative technologies, and a parallel interest in lighting is worthy of pondering upon, and hence this talk at the design festival. During the talk, her project’s underlying motives and their sustainable nature will be pondered upon at length.

A Conversation with MAD Architects: Be the MAD, be the LIGHT

The conversation with Andrea D'Antrassi, Associate Partner at MAD Architects, titled Be the MAD, Be the LIGHT, aims to bring to the forefront the relationship between light and architecture. Just like light is essential for activating the photosynthesis process, for MAD Architects, light is a vital element in their design philosophy. It is this integral element in their practice that will be extensively explored on April 22, 2023, at the fairgrounds, under the moderation of Amit Gupta, founder and editor-in-chief, STIR, and Samta Nadeem, curatorial director, STIR.

STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2023 showcases the best exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands, and special projects to look out for. Explore Euroluce 2023 and all the design districts—5Vie Art and Design, Brera Design District, Fuorisalone, Isola Design District, Tortona District, and Milano Design District—with us.

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