German Lighting Designer Makes Lights Out of Industrial Materials
April 5, 2012 - 2:29pm
German craftsman Frank Buchwald takes industrial design to the extreme, building his distinctive Machine Lights from raw materials that showcase illuminated style in the rough.

BUCHWALD: The idea for my Machine Lights developed from my lifelong artistic examination of the essence of modern technology. I am fascinated by the uncompromising functionality of machines, [stripped from] the hull of pleasing design. For me, [this is] most obvious in raw artifacts from the industrial age.

As a designer and artist, I am interested in various manifestations and forms of expression as sources of inspiration. Art, architecture and natural forms are the influences for my work, giving my Machine Lights their techno-biological character.

To achieve the distinctive “industrial look,” I do without modern materials like plastics or LEDs. I use only brass, special light bulbs, textile cables and steel (without a coat of paint, only chemical blackened or burnished steel). Many components are massively bolted—thereby achieving, together with the design, a heavy engineered style with a retrospective touch.

The initial starting point is a rough basic idea. Once the idea gets more specific, an image forms in my mind, suggesting details like the kind of bulb that should be used. In some cases it works the other way around, though. Bulbs can turn out to be inspirational to the design, as well. I’m not really stuck to one procedure.

My Machine Lights follow no specific design trend. This gives me the freedom to create light objects beyond modernity or market requirements. Reactions from both customers and connoisseurs strengthen my intention to create pieces that resist and evade those standards. These people are not interested in industrially manufactured products; they prefer exclusive, handmade, [unique] items.

I work on new models and ideas when time and orders allow it—mostly in the form of concepts and drawings. But work on a prototype or an exclusive piece for a customer is likely to stretch over a period of weeks or even months. That is because the artistic process actually first begins in the workshop. I try to expand the series by about a model a year.

My Machine Lights are timeless and not specifically classified. They challenge the beholder; I like that. That is their unique appeal.

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