January 25, 2017

Nostalgia Rings True as a Poetic Aesthetic

Looking back to create sophisticated new lighting designs


by Saxon Henry

Nostalgia can be heady in the hands of talented designers—case in point is the Cone pendant and wall light, new in the Global Lighting B.lux Collection, which were designed by Werner Aisslinger. The Berlin-based industrial experimentalist told Design Milk he studied foldable craft-paper bags that food was once packed in for his inspiration but these crafty creations brought another by-gone symbol to mind for us—cowbells that once jingled on ranches across the country before digital tracking devices came into being.


Nostalgia as Context

What makes this association inescapable is not only the shape; it’s also the material Aisslinger sourced for the fittings—copper, the metal of choice for those bells resonating back in time. And because he intermingled the warm metallic tone with a pale shade made of vitrified translucent porcelain that has a texturized matte surface, he managed to modernize the shape to make this fixture seriously chic.

Philosophically, he’s as avant-garde as designers come. He speaks eloquently about how technology is changing design, a belief we hold near and dear to our hearts at Global Lighting: “Today’s lightning-speed technological advancements have led to the appearance of three-dimensional fiberglass, gels, aluminum foam, three-dimensional textiles and neoprene compositions from which entirely new products can be created. Aesthetically, the design of these future products will be utilitarian, organic, reduced, soft, puristic, poetic, modular and nomadic.”


Portrait of Werner Aisslinger courtesy of Freunde von Freunden.


The above portrait shot for Freunde von Freunden, which appeared in a Companion Magazine piece highlighting his 25hours Hotel project, shows how thoughtful this designer truly is. Given how resoundingly Aisslinger’s musing strikes us and the serious design statement he made with these new fixtures, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other projects he has actualized. The trailblazer has collaborated with a large number of lauded brands that include names as substantial as Capellini, Moroso and Vitra.

Many of his designs have garnered prestigious accolades, such as the A&W (Architektur & Wohnen) Designer of the Year Award, Good Design Award, Red Dot Award, Compasso d’Oro Award, and Interior Design magazine’s BOY (Best of Year) Award in contract seating for his Bikini wood chair. A number of his products have found their way into museums, including MoMA. His Nic chair for Magis and Juli armchair for Cappellini are included in the museum’s permanent collection.


Looking Back to Design Forward

Proving his thinking has breadth and depth, some of his furniture designs eclipse random pieces for interiors, such as the Level 34 office furniture system for Vitra. This project is also a perfect example of Aisslinger’s futuristic outlook, as, once again, he looked back—to the ubiquitous workbench of the past—and gave the modern building blocks for an office setting a cool contemporary edge by making the workspaces appear as if they are floating.

His Bikini Island—another system he designed for Moroso—is a godsend for rooms that present awkward space-planning challenges. In their profile of the product, which the company dubs “TV loses its starring role,” Moroso explains, “Whether used in waiting areas or homes, the seating system is absolutely flexible because there is no need for the layout of the space and the arrangement of the seating components to correspond.” Aisslinger has taken all of the guesswork out of the equation by providing a number of arrangements that place each element in complementary sequences.

One of his newest projects, House of Wonders, is an exhibition devoted to a three-dimensional utopia that portrays futuristic ideas of living, including robots and other assistive technologies that are playfully and unpretentiously integrated into the analogue world of everyday life. Given that digital appliances and interfaces dominate our very existence these days, Aisslinger and his team at Studio Aisslinger, called to mind “the euphoria surrounding these technologies” that will eventually succumb to a “laissez-faire” attitude.

“Present excitement about digital achievements will shift to commonplace interaction with devices, currently perceived as utopian and futuristic,” he notes. “In this installation the prospective domestication of technology is already implemented in analogue homes. Life in the ‘house of wonders’ becomes a symbiosis of living and working, a collage of archetypes and high-tech objects. Various products and groceries are produced self-sufficiently indoors as well as outdoors.”

We would expect nothing less than this futuristic point of view held by this inventive man, and we’re proud to feature a number of his lighting fixtures in in our B.lux Collection—including the Cone family, the Hoodie floor lamp, and the Aspen and Tree series—and we salute this intrepid visionary for always thinking outside the proverbial box, as his lighting is apropos for interiors as diverse as hotels and hospitals to residences, offices and restaurants!

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