Not too many would decorate their home with an octopus. But JÃ¼rgen Reichert didn’t strive for mass-market success when he designed the Octopuslucidus “light creature” in “Euro Flash” (December 2005, pages 122-137). A quick chat with the German sculptor reveals only a passion to share his imaginative artistry with others—the most adventurous of whom might be tempted to bring his “rubbery, tactile companions” home.
Reichert considers illumination essential to the form and substance of his work. And he was far from alone at fall’s European shows. During my trip to Frankfurt, Germany’s Tendence Lifestyle market, I was struck by how many of the exhibitors that show organizer Messe Frankfurt highlighted as “avant-garde” worked with light.
Just one of the 40 young designers whose progressive product concepts gained them entry into the event’s Talents exhibit, Reichert found intriguing bedfellows in flashlights with decorative glass shades, trompe l’oeil wall spots and a host of other novelties. But two of the show’s other sectors made an even stronger case for the vast potential of light as art.
The Beatles and Jude Law would have been quite enough to tie my heart to British imports, but super cool lighting innovations absolutely dominated the British European Design Group section. Promising models offered pragmatic solutions and ultramodern materials and form. Several pieces were conveniently compact for shipping. One shade inverted with a simple pull, another breathed, thanks to a hidden motor.
This new British Invasion carried on at the off-site sideshow Designersblock. Organized by a London-based duo, the traveling market alternative provides a promotional platform for recent graduates and other fresh talent. The Tendence edition drew attendees into a free-form atmosphere where they encountered such irreverent ideas as glass lamps blown to mimic faucets, lamps clad in a heat-sensitive material that changes color and LED lights disguised as ordinary bulbs wrapped in fabric and gleaming with an electro-luminescent blue “filament.”
OK, so these things will never sell at Home Depot. But that’s what you’re there for—to offer something off the beaten path. Not your customers’ cup of tea? Well, I hope our gallery of Europe’s outlandish dabblings at least revives your passion for the refreshingly rough edges and wit of unfettered lighting design.
What recent off-kilter lighting innovation do you believe is most likely to succeed?
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