ILLUMINATING DESIGNER MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES’S ouevre

Shortly after graduating from London’s Royal College of Art 20 years ago, a young Michael Anastassiades sought to design dynamic objects that would elicit a strong emotional response from their users. His Anti-Social Light (2001), for example, would only shine its brightest in total silence, dimming and switching off if there was any noise and forcing those present to consider the level of their voices. In return, Social Light (2001), Anti-Social’s companion piece, would only glow when talked to. Then there were his Message Cups (1994) which would record one’s voice, holding a message for another to find later when the cup was flipped over.

With maturity often comes an appreciation of subtlety, and today the light fixtures that comprise the majority of the Greek-Cypriot’s body of work embody an effortless fusion of sublime sculpture and functional object. They also evoke emotions far more quietly. “I realized that the point of interaction doesn’t have to be so immediate,” he says. “I like to layer my objects.” Case in point: Tip Of The Tongue (2012), made from a luminous sphere poised to drop off the edge of its cylindrical brass pedestal, and whose aesthetic charm comes with a slight prick of anxiety.

Advancement in years is also often accompanied by growth in size. So, after two decades of independently producing his works, either in his own London home-cum-studio among a tight-knit staff, or with small-scale producers such as Austrian glassblower Lobmeyr, Anastassiades is now expanding his practice to seek a bigger audience. His first step towards larger-scale production was his 2013 collaboration with the iconic Italian lighting manufacturer Flos. Together they created String Lights, pendants suspended from cords up to 40 feet long that can be hung in various geometric compositions. “They do things I could never do on my own,” Anastassiades says of Flos, whose extensive research into LED technology afforded him the ability to engineer the String Lights with the thinnest of cords. The IC Lights, another recent Flos collaboration, is a family of lights whose design is based on the idea of a contact juggler juggling balls. In both cases the end result is a deceptive simplicity that “communicates a sense of familiarity,” according to Anastassiades. But whether he’s producing on an industrial level, or on a more intimate, made-to-order basis for his in-house brand, Anastassiades insists that the spirit of the work remains the same. “No matter what I work on, you have to appreciate the fact that I’ve tried it out and it will work.”

Taken from PIN–UP Issue 17, Fall Winter 2014.