2 months ago

Why Michael Anastassiades is Designer of The Year

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One of the most prolific and poetic lighting designers in the world, Michael Anastassiades returns to Paris’ Maison & Objet this weekend, where he launched his eponymous brand in 2007, as its designer of the year.

“To design a light one first has to embrace the darkness,” believes Cypriot designer Anastassiades, who trained as a civil engineer before taking a master’s degree in industrial design at the Royal College of Art. He founded his studio in London in 1994, (from where he still works in Camden), and his eponymous brand in 2007. His work is defined by simple shapes and volumes – a sphere, a line, a circle – yet the illusionary simplicity of his designs is a labour of love, and not something easily achieved. A perfect example is The Fleet Drinking Fountain, found at the V&A Museum in London, which conceals the technical aspects without compromising aesthetics and is more of an experience than just a place to stop and fill a bottle.

The same is true for his elegant, minimalist and modular lighting – which can encompass the role of room screen and divider. He was the first designer to design lights in the form of mobiles, and Anastassiades takes into consideration that a lamp is switched off 80 per cent of the time. Lights for him are a source of warmth, and what fascinates him most is the glow. 

He was initially drawn to the poetic qualities of lighting, but was aware that no company would hire him until he had made a name for himself. Starting his own brand gave him the chance to test the boundaries and design without compromises. By the time he started to collaborate with Flos he had gained experience and was ready for new challenges. He had unexpected freedom to invent, and could count on the expertise of the company to experiment with technical solutions that up to that moment had not been available to him. His projects became more ambitious – his Arrangements and String Lights for Flos, (available at Minima, Dublin) both won him awards. At Maison & Objet, (January 17 – 21), he wants to offer an experience and for the very first time all 16 of his “Mobile Chandeliers”, will be showcased together: in a dark space, the lights, propelled by motors, will move as if they are planets.

Lights are a source of warmth, and what fascinates me most is the glow.

Although best known for his lighting, the reason why Anastassiades has so rightly been named Designer of the Year 2020 is for his prolific output: furniture for B&B Italia, Herman Miller, Cassina; drinking glasses for Lobmeyr; speakers for Bang & Olufsen; a public project in Mint Street, London; wine glasses for Puiforcat. His work can be found in permanent collections at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the MAK in Vienna, the Crafts Council in London and the FRAC Centre in Orleans France.

He believes we should surround ourselves with objects that will last a very long time, that design should not be shortsighted and, on message, his objects have a timeless quality to them; www.maison-objet.com.

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