One of the most outstanding installations at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair was a collaboration between lighting company Flos, BMW and UK lighting designer Paul Cocksedge. Extending Flos’s city showroom, the space was cut off from all natural light and bathed in a soft blue. Hanging from the ceiling were several red and transparent conical pieces of acrylic hung at different heights. A curved screen wrapped three of the four walls and, when seen through the cones, video images of BMW 6 Series cars were visible moving across the screen.
Speaking at the installation about the project, Cocksedge showed his passion for light and for the thrill of invention. “I’m showing people what light can do – it’s very, very special,” he enthuses. “It always surprises me. I’ve created this space and hopefully people will think, ‘How is this possible?’ In a way, they’ll get closer to the wonders of light.”
“The idea is to create a space that’s very intriguing, that’s very quiet, that’s a breath of fresh air. I visit the shows in Milan and it’s intense – there’s so much to see. I wanted this space to be a gap in between that – very still, very silent, very calm. Within this space there’s a car but it’s hidden within light. You see glimpses when you look through these lamps.”
Cocksedge’s inventive approach to design often includes electricity, light and what seems like magic. Earlier examples include Life, a vase that’s also a light and turns on only when a living flower is placed in the vase. Or lighting installation Kiss, which turns on 50,000 LED lights when two people kiss underneath it. Or Watt, a light whose current is carried through graphite in the form of a drawing on a piece of paper.
For the Flos and BMW collaboration, Cocksedge was not forthcoming about the exact technology that creates the effect. “It’s not just about one thing. It’s a combination of many, many types of technology, bespoke lighting that had to be created for this to exist, and it came about in such a refreshing way. I was doing what I enjoy, which is setting up these very simple experiments in the studio alone after everyone had gone and I came across this and I thought, ‘It’s so incredible that light behaves like that.’ And that was the inspiration for this space.”
Published online: 6 Jan 2012
Words: Penny Craswell
Images: Mark Cocksedge and Flos
Artichoke, September 2011