De­sign PRO­FILE

The renowned light­ing de­signer on the cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his prod­ucts and why it pays to ex­per­i­ment

Living Etc - - CONTENTS -

Light­ing de­signer ex­traor­di­naire Michael Anas­tas­si­ades on cre­at­ing mu­seum-wor­thy pieces

Michael Anas­tas­si­ades has de­signed not only for his epony­mous brand, which he launched in 2007, but for a host of pres­ti­gious names in­clud­ing Her­man Miller, Lob­meyr, Ilse Craw­ford, Sven­skt Tenn, Nil­u­far Gallery and Sal­va­tori. Famed for his light­ing cre­ations, his ex­ten­sive port­fo­lio also in­cludes fur­ni­ture and table­top ob­jects, as well as a speaker and a drink­ing foun­tain, and his prod­ucts are shown in per­ma­nent col­lec­tions at both The Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in New York and the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum in Lon­don. Born in Cyprus, Anas­tas­si­ades spent his early child­hood in South

Africa be­fore re­turn­ing with his par­ents to his home coun­try at the age of five. He moved to Eng­land to study be­fore be­ing drawn into the world of de­sign. Here he un­picks the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his work...

Be­fore mov­ing into de­sign, you stud­ied for a de­gree in civil engi­neer­ing – why didn’t you fol­low that up?

Half­way through the engi­neer­ing course, I dis­cov­ered the Royal Col­lege of Art. Re­ally, I wanted to do some­thing cre­ative so I de­cided to ex­plore an­other route. When I grad­u­ated, I free­lanced for a lit­tle while, which gave me the free­dom to de­velop my own ideas. I launched my own stu­dio in 1994.

You’re best known for light­ing de­signs. Was light­ing some­thing you fo­cused on right from the be­gin­ning?

No. I was de­sign­ing more in­ter­ac­tive and elec­tronic prod­ucts, and the light­ing didn’t come un­til later on when I got my own place and needed lights. I couldn’t find any­thing I liked, so I de­cided to make them my­self. It was very ex­per­i­men­tal be­cause at the time I didn’t know that I wanted to set up on my own or man­u­fac­ture these pieces.

Why did you then de­cide to start your busi­ness?

I got an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse from var­i­ous dif­fer­ent peo­ple – ar­chi­tects and in­di­vid­u­als – who loved the lights and wanted to buy them. Slowly, I put the col­lec­tion to­gether and it made sense to start my own brand. Even to this day there are pieces in the cur­rent col­lec­tion that orig­i­nated from then.

How do you ap­proach de­sign?

I like the idea that vis­ual in­for­ma­tion is sub­tracted un­til you reach a point where the bare essence of the prod­uct is re­tained. In­spi­ra­tion is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery prod­uct, as some solve big­ger prob­lems, while oth­ers are more spon­ta­neous.

You have an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with Ital­ian light­ing com­pany Flos. How did that come about?

It be­gan in 2011. I was work­ing on String Lights as my own project when I met Piero Gan­dini, the CEO. I showed him the ideas and he was com­pletely sold. The lat­est col­lec­tion is a mod­u­lar de­sign called Ar­range­ments; you buy in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments and link them up. It’s very much like jew­ellery and I like that par­al­lel.

You’ve re­cently worked with au­dio man­u­fac­turer Bang & Olufsen; can you tell us about that project?

Bang & Olufsen’s prod­ucts are time­less and I de­sign with the same goal. Af­ter many con­ver­sa­tions, we de­cided we should cre­ate a speaker. Not hav­ing de­signed any­thing like that be­fore gives you a re­ally fresh ap­proach.

It’s a very un­usual de­sign...

I liked the idea of try­ing to in­cor­po­rate move­ment

into the func­tion. There are no but­tons, so you con­trol the vol­ume by rolling the piece back­wards and for­wards, which was an in­cred­i­ble chal­lenge for Bang & Olufsen. They had never done any­thing like that be­fore and I don’t think any other com­pany had ei­ther, so it’s quite unique.

What else have you been work­ing on re­cently?

I’ve de­signed some taps for About­wa­ter, which is a part­ner­ship be­tween Boffi and Fan­tini, and a som­me­lier col­lec­tion for Puifor­cat. I also cre­ated a bronze drink­ing foun­tain at the V&A for the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val, so things have been quite di­verse.

Where do you live and what is your own home like?

I live on Lower Marsh, which is a lit­tle street right be­hind Water­loo sta­tion and I’ve been there for 20 years. It’s a ter­raced house and, be­cause it’s a mar­ket street, most of the build­ings have a shop on the ground floor. I use mine as a gallery space. I also use my home as a place to show­case my work and as an en­vi­ron­ment for me to live with my own de­signs, which is al­ways a good ex­er­cise.

What have you got com­ing up next?

We’re get­ting ready for Euroluce at the Mi­lan Fur­ni­ture Fair in April and I’m de­sign­ing a whole col­lec­tion for my own brand.

clock­wise from left Michael’s Ar­range­ments mod­u­lar light for flos, £1,300, Heal’s; and a floor lamp for sven­skt tenn’s to Be per­fectly frank col­lec­tion

FROM TOP Spot stools for Her­man Miller, from £1,367 each; and the Bell­hop col­lec­tion coat hanger for Sven­skt Tenn, £1,059

CLOCK­WISE FROM THIS IM­AGE The Fleet drink­ing foun­tain at theV&A; the Som­me­lier col­lec­tion de­canter for Puifor­cat, £998; Tip of the Tongue ta­ble lamp, £780, The Con­ran Shop; and the Beosound Edge speaker for Bang &Olufsen, £2,900

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