|McKenna: My first job before I graduated from college (Industrial Design, University of Illinois, 1997) was for the German lighting designer Ingo Maurer. I studied abroad in England for a year and was casting about for an internship when I met Maurer and his crew at one of the Milan fairs. I started out there as an intern, and I really loved it. I learned German and ended up staying for about a year and a half. It was a very formative time for me.
I struck out on my own as an industrial designer about five years ago. On the whole, it has been a very positive experience. But there has been, as there is in every young designer’s life, some self-doubt. That’s what these kits are really about: They acknowledge my own desire to be one of the great designers, as ridiculous as that is. Actually, these
kits are a way for anybody and everybody to effectively become one of the great designers. You pick up the kit, pop out the pieces, put them together, and in less than a minute, you have “created” your very own instant design classic.
The Designer Emulation Kits are made out of green, printed circuit board, a product that basically controls our lives. It’s the same stuff that’s in your TV, your cell phone, your thermostat. Conceptually, it’s straightforward, but to get the tolerances right is actually a fairly difficult process. We’ve got the dimensions down to 2/1,000 of an inch, so they fit together properly.
The first designer we emulated was Ingo Maurer and the Lucellino. Then we went straight to Achille Castiglioni, who I think is probably the greatest of all time. In general, we tried to go for the most recognizable of all the lamps ever designed, like Castiglioni’s Arco, a ubiquitous symbol of good taste. After that was Richard Sapper and his Tizio lamp, which some people say is the greatest-selling lamp of all time. Number four was another Castiglioni, the Toio lamp, and my personal favorite. Our final one is a Philippe Starck design for Flos called Miss K.