Shedding Light on Design

Michael Anastassiades Explains His Kinetic Creations

After training as a civil engineer at Imperial College, London, Cypriot-born Michael Anastassiades took a masters degree in industrial design at the Royal College of Art. He launched his studio in 1994, producing lighting, furniture, jewelry and tabletop objects. Patrolling his projects from design and sourcing to production and distribution, Anastassiades strives for symmetry between concept and craft in his work, which is in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, and London’s Victoria & Albert museum.

This week at Moss Gallery in New York you will be launching your collection of Kinetic Lights and Mobile Chandeliers. Tell us more about this.

For me it was the idea of a light that actually moves, that has its own cycle… that has its own life somehow. It makes a direct reference to natural cycles, the movements of the sun. All these elements for me were quite powerful and very poetic.

What other projects are you working on?

At the moment, I am working on a collaboration with Bijoy Jain from [Mumbai-based architecture practice] Studio Mumbai, for an exhibition called 1:1 – Architects Build Small Spaces that opens at the V&A on June 15. We have taken our inspiration from an existing structure, which is nothing more than a dwelling in a slum. We’ve reproduced it in the Cast Courts of the V&A as a plaster cast. It becomes like an architectural study, which camouflages itself in its resemblance to all the other structures in the courts. I am also developing a new light. It’s basically a glass globe that sits on two still tables that span the space of an open-plan room. It follows human movement. It’s a very slow thing, like my Social and Anti Social lights. We’re trying to increase the complexity as we go along—this is definitely just the start for these things.

What are your rules for design?

I have no rules. However, something has to make sense. I think of the proportions of an object in the way it relates to human scale. I aim for generosity and intimacy, qualities that are difficult to achieve simultaneously.

You often use materials like stone, wood, metal. What's the appeal?

I tend to look for honesty in the way a material is used. I am interested in its intrinsic qualities, something that cannot be mimicked. I don’t really use any plastics in my work––or at least not yet––and I’m not interested in metalized surfaces, in materials that try to be something else. I’m trying to explore the qualities of the materials to their maximum potential.

You have used the word “mundane” to describe your designs....Meaning?

The word “almost” precedes the “mundane,” which means that that there is the possibility of them to be read that way. The Message Cup, for example—you look at the cup and you don’t know what it is, and in terms of its shape, it’s really almost typical. That’s the shape of a cup, and if it’s not used for drinking, what is it used for? Some people see the object and let it slip from their attention, especially if they don’t bother to find out what it is. But I’m not really interested in that audience, so I let it be.


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