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Taschen unveils a limited edition series of Jorge Pardo's illusive Brussels Lamps
Brussels Lamps by Jorge Pardo
Video: Courtesy of Taschen

Taschen unveils a limited edition series of Jorge Pardo's illusive Brussels Lamps

The German publishing house reissues a set of five limited edition Brussels Lamps that interweave technology and craftsmanship.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Feb 02, 2023

The predisposition to categorise objects is embedded deeply in human nature—the brain’s innate panacea in response to the constant intake of voluminous amounts of data. The simplicity and organised structuring that these labels entail allow us to make sense of the world. Although we often rely on these categories to mould our perceptions, how often are they valid? This pigeonholing is conspicuous in the creative archives as well; painting and sculpture, design and architecture, technology and craft, all packed in separate boxes. What we fail to acknowledge are the covert spaces where the demarcations dissolve and the languages blithely melt into each other. In a structure where everything is expected to be either this or that, what if it is neither—or both?

The Cuban-American artist Jorge Pardo’s practice thrives in these spaces of concurrence. Best known for his ability to transform mundane household objects into compelling artworks, he frequently combines technology with artisanal craft yielding works that are a seamless synthesis of form and function. Continuing his association with German publishing house Taschen, Pardo breathes life into a product design of unique illumination and functionality: a reissued limited edition series of his light fixtures titled Brussels Lamps. Exclusive to Taschen and limited to five subtly varying designs, each in an edition of 100, these living pieces of art are available individually or as a complete set of five. The lamp designs that showcase signature motifs from the artist’s body of work are inspired by Mexican baskets and are intricately handcrafted—a determined labour of love. “Revolvable, suspendable, and arrestingly beautiful, the lamps are designed to illuminate in different directions, bringing light to life and adding new dimensions to the home,” quotes the publishing house’s official release.

Born in Cuba and now based in Mexico, Pardo’s oeuvre traverses sculpture, architecture, design and contemporary painting. His creations irreverently defy labels, trailing the intersections of fine art and design, functionality and art, and technology and craftsmanship. Characterised by a palette of vibrant colours, undulating forms, and a range of natural and artificial materials, Pardo's works encompass lighting design, furniture design, home interior design and larger-than-life fabrications. His houses have garnered most attention owing to the fluidity that characterises their rendezvous with art, sculpture and architecture in tandem. Familiar objects become eye-catching artworks; in the case of the Brussels Lamps, lamps shapeshift as sources of light and sculptural art. Having worked on both small and monumental scales, public spaces are Pardo’s canvases—and his lamps are a compact facsimile of his large-scale endeavours.

Pardo and Benedikt Taschen, a contemporary art collector and founder of the publishing house, have known each other for a long time and share an amicable relationship. The artist and Taschen’s association have produced many projects through the years, including the exuberantly colourful wall panels and luminaires in the Brussels store. “It started with the Brussels store where I designed the interiors and 21 lamps,” says Pardo in a conversation with Taschen, tracing back to his latest project’s conception. “The company already has a sector in it with the large books and things like that which would lend itself to additions in a different way, and we just started working on it together,” he adds.

The latest edition of lamps, which draws inspiration from the earlier models, began with Pardo’s time-tested creative process: translating his ideas and notions onto paper. Following the drawing stage, he begins to build the first prototype in his studio. The prototype goes through a process of rigorous evolutions—embodying as many reinventions as it takes to produce one that seizes Pardo’s fascination. “There are many layers of the material, there is a layer of colour and finish that gets applied and then it is assembled,’ explains Pardo. “When we arrive at something that seems to be working in an interesting way, we produce them all in the studio,” he adds. Each handcrafted lamp requires the 3D laser-cutting of 50 PETG plastic discs, shaped in ways to allow light to spill out in different directions. The discs are painted by hand before being stacked around the socket and bulb and are held together by three steel rods and over 150 aluminium fittings.

Shedding light on what best represents him in terms of the different things he is involved in, Pardo tells Taschen, “I would say not one, but more like the relationship between them all is what’s interesting to me. You know, it might be interesting the way a lamp influences a painting, a painting influences a building, and a drawing becomes a lamp.” The space where the seemingly-disparate spheres coexist and their differences begin to inform each other is where Pardo’s creative language thrives. His lamps are described as a “serendipitous meeting of technology and creativity,” a companionship often deemed strange—the rigid functionality and complexity of the one dissenting from the imaginative freedom of the other. The colourful sculptures animated with light, whether revealed in new dimensions as freestanding sculptures or suspended pendants, are emblematic of the magic that occurs when two divergent worlds collide.

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