Bright Lights


Four Brilliant Lighting Designers to Watch

By Anna Carnick

Lighting can alter a space’s entire character with—quite literally—the flip of a switch. From the curious to the inspiring, the minimalistic to the monolithic, and the animal-like to the otherworldly, the work of these four young, vanguard studios is setting the design world alight.  Read on to get to know some of today’s most luminary talents.

Naama Hofman

Edgy yet elegant, Israeli-born designer Naama Hofman’s lighting is all about clean lines and soft, intimate glows. She collaborates with local artisans in her hometown of Tel Aviv to fabricate every piece, often working with small LEDs, luxe metals, and glass. Describing her aesthetic, Hofman tells us, “There is a real beauty to something that is effortless, and I always try to get there.”

Her signature style is minimalistic chic, the result of a consistent, carefully considered process. As Hofman explains, “When I design, I always think: How I can use the least material? How can I use only what I need?”

We especially love the designer’s new, brass Tube Pendant Collection, which draws strong, almost calligraphic lines through the air. Describing these forms, Hofman says, “I wanted to create a [series of objects] that occupy more volume in a space. I saw the lines more like moving parts of the body. It's like standing on one leg and stretching your limbs in different directions.”

 

Nir Meiri

Another Tel Aviv native, designer Nir Meiri, has happily called the UK home for the past few years. Based in Central London, Meiri is known for experimentatal designs that test the boundaries of unconventional, often organic materials, resulting in pieces that pack a ton of personality—his Black Swan (2015) lamp, for example, looks like it might promenade out of the room at any moment. A floor lamp made of sand, you say? No problem. A table light composed of seaweed? But of course. What’s truly remarkable, however, is not just the exploratory nature of Meiri’s work; it’s the fact that he’s able to tame these often wild, raw materials into such graceful, beautifully composed forms. This unique talent has brought him increasing attention in recent years, earning him collaborations with world-class galleries such as Nilufar and Rossana Orlandi in Milan, Design Museum Holon and Tiroche Auction House in Israel, and Mint Gallery and 19 Greek Street in London.

When asked to describe the role that the natural world plays in his practice, he tells us: “From a very young age, I was drawn to nature and animals. I was always raising different kinds of animals, and, between the ages of 12 and 18, I volunteered at two different zoos in Israel. I was sure I would become a zoologist, in fact! So being who I am, as a designer/artist, it has always been quite instinctive for me to look around and absorb natural beauty—to look for plants for inspiration, to follow animals' movements and shapes—and then translate that into my objects.” 

Presently, Meiri’s working on a new furniture collection for Nilufar, as well as designing custom lighting for a new, London-based multipurpose arts and performance space. Later this year, he’ll launch a major solo show at Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art Gallery (OTCA) in London, timed in coordination with London Design Festival.  The theme? Objects that employ materials from the fishing industry. Naturally. Think scales, fish leathers, salt, and more. We’re definitely on the line for this one. 

 

OS ∆ OOS

Syzygy: Occultation Courtesy of Studio OS ∆ OOS Dutch duo Sophie Mensen and Oskar Peet, otherwise known as Studio OS ∆ OOS, specialize in gorgeous, idiosyncratic designs that seem not quite of this world. The Eindhoven-based studio makes conceptually driven pieces that walk a fine yet purposeful line between functional products and fine art objects. According to Mensen, “Throughout our process, from concept to the end result, we try to hone in on the essence of the object, meaning that every element [that ultimately remains must be] there for a reason. This often produces a minimalistic appearance, where sometimes the object might look like an autonomous, purely artistic [piece]. But when investigating further, the user sees the capabilities of the object. Our work always has a functionality to it; in that way we know we are not artists—though it’s nice to be mistaken for one from time to time.”

The sculptural, hyperphysical Syzygy (pronounced sĭz-ĭ-jē) collection exemplifies this marriage of art and design perfectly. Inspired by the astronomical phenomenon of the same name—wherein three celestial bodies are configured in a straight line (as in a solar or lunar eclipse)—the series’ super-striking concrete and glass lamps are appreciable as wholly resolved objects, appearing at once ancient and futuristic. Mimicking the sun, a constant light source we only see only part of the time, they feature adjustable, light-filtering discs that can be rotated in various combinations—sometimes fully, partially, or not at all blocking the lamps’ light—to mimic the effects of a syzygy.

Mensen and Peet, who first met as students at the Design Academy Eindhoven, tell us they take great care in choosing what to put out into the world. As Mensen explains, “We keep working and reworking a project until we feel it communicates on a number of levels. With the endless amount of work being produced today, we feel we need to find as many reasons as possible for a project’s existence. The last thing we want to do is just make a project for the sake of making a new project.”

  

Arnout Meijer

For his part, Dutchman Arnout Meijer is driven by two constant themes: light and perception. “I'm fascinated by our perception,” he says, “since the way we [make sense of] the world around us defines the reality we live in. Undeniably, our most dominant perceptive faculty is our vision, which depends entirely on the presence of light.”

The complexities of these two threads are a source of constant research for Meijer, who works within a wide range of disciplines, including product design, art, public sculpture, architectural interventions, interiors, and writing. Across the board, he says, “I try to reveal the hidden systems that control our ways of seeing and to question the value of perception. I see this relation between reality and illusion in vision and culture as the basis of my artistic practice.” He cites inspirations ranging from Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan and Dutch astronomer Marcel Minnaert to an ever-growing collection of light-bending plastics, glass, lenses, light sources, and electronics, as well as a recent interest in the impact that the movement of celestial bodies have on our view of the world. 

Arnout Meijer's One Point Perspective collection Photo courtesy of Arnout Meijer Studio

Not surprisingly, his object designs toy with our senses, often encouraging careful examination of what we see before us. Meijer’s breakout project, the sculptural light series Thanks for the Sun (2013), features color-changing LEDS that emit a range of warm and cool light—as do the wonderful follow-ups Thanks for the Planets (2014) and Thanks for the Sky (2015). His Every Light (2015) and One Point Perspective series (2016) both consist of objects encapsulating various light shapes that change depending on your position relevant to them. Describing the latter, Meijer puts it this way: “Everything is centered in the eye of the spectator. No two sights are the same; you are the vanishing point of your own perspective.”

Asked just what it is about light as a medium that so moves him, Meijer opines: “Light has a strong influence over our state of mind, through natural light during the day and artificial light at night. It is an omnipresent, intangible material, extremely dynamic and, unlike any other sculptural medium, constantly in motion. Its effects are both seductive and confusing. Without light there are no telescopes, microscopes, photographs, films, television, satellites, screens, video, and big data.” He concludes, “It may be the most widespread medium for communication on earth.” 

  • Text by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.

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