As one of the most anticipated urban installations during Milan Design Week, Italian magazine Interni’s Mutant Architecture and Design exhibition featured works by prominent figures in the fields of art, architecture, and design. Housed in the courtyards of the Ospedale Maggiore building at the University of Milan, the exhibition was comprised of large scale works which were arranged throughout the building’s courtyards. Exploring the mutation of architecture through perception, physicality, materiality, and time, all of the installations reflect the medium’s enormous flexibility. The juxtaposition of the modernity of the installations with the historical setting dating back to 1456, created a magical atmosphere.
Among the many installations, one that stood out for its ingenuity and conceptual exploration was by longtime friend of Luminaire, German lighting prodigy Ingo Maurer. Created in partnership with designer Axel Schmid, Ablaze explored the physical and emotional power of fire, which represents a radical element of change in architecture. Within the work, the tension and contrast of transformation was referenced through the demonstration, in slow motion, of the gradual transformation of a burning building.
Built of blackened wood and raised on a platform, the small structure took the form of an archetypal house that had been abstracted and distorted. Windows and doors ran skewed along the same tilted axis of the walls while a single steel cable supported the precariously perched edifice. Every few minutes, smoke billowed from the house’s windows and into the courtyard.
The contrast between exterior and interior was breathtaking. Rough and black on the exterior, the interior was painted an intense red, further symbolizing fire. At the center of the floor, a recessed geometric opening was painted green, enriching the chromatic contrast and reflections. A silver spherical object acted as a pendulum, slowly moving in the space and reflecting the surroundings.
Maurer’s self-taught career in lighting design was initially triggered by his fascination with the light bulb as the perfect meeting of industry and poetry. This continual blend of art and light in unorthodox ways has become a repeating theme throughout the designer’s work. For Salone 2011, Maurer introduced several new products at the Spazio Krizia in Milan. The amazing installation featured a natural theme of insects and butterflies attached to Maurer’s lighting. The exceptionally detailed insects, created by an American artisan gave birth to ‘Johnny B. Butterfly’, a small limited series of pendants in which butterflies and dragonflies danced around an over-sized light bulb, wrapped with a frosted strip of telfon to create a whimsical and light-hearted fixture.
Mauer’s longstanding experimentations with light create amazing outcomes as seen his numerous products available at Luminaire.