The Poet Speaks: Meeting with Light
Ingo Maurer, a master of lighting design, is nicknamed “The Poet of Light.”
After studying graphic design, Maurer went into lighting design, announcing a lamp shaped as a light bulb. Named “Bulb” (1966), the lamp suddenly brought him a lot of attention. “Lucellino” (1992) had wings like an angel, and many people probably know of the Japanese paper lampshades that he made after being inspired by Japanese culture.
He does not stop at lighting fixture design; instead, his works are born from creative ideas that draw forth the very essence of light. Perhaps they could be called the fusion of design and art. The light made by Maurer is poetic and full of a playful spirit.
One of Mauruer’s masterpieces, Lucellino, is a response to the needs of the times, and it has been updated as a LED version. The TRI-R LED was adopted on account of its ability to perfectly reproduce the characteristics of an incandescent light bulb, such as its adorable form, warm light quality, and transitions of light color when the light is adjusted.
The Poet of Light, who has been in a relationship with light for half a century, has met with light, and has heard about light’s charms.
You have been involved with lighting and light for a long time. What is the appeal or power you see in light?
The light that surrounds us has an enormous influence on our well-being, and how we feel in general. But at least when I started to work with light, many people did not realize the importance of light. So, the lighting of spaces, private or public, offered many options to make people’s everyday life better, to make them happier, too. That’s one aspect why I enjoy working with light.
Around when did you become fond of light?
Why did you become so attracted to light?
When I started to design lamps, I worked from ideas about the shape of the lamps. My first design, Bulb, looks like a big light bulb. Over the years, I created many more lamps and reflected about the effects. Light is like an unknown continent to me, that I have been exploring, slowly, from the coasts, going towards the inner secrets, discovering many extraordinarily beautiful spots, opening it up to others, too.
What was your most memorable or moving experience with light?
There have been many such experiences in my life. When arriving somewhere, where I’ve never been before, often the day light has amazed me, or the lighting of cities as New York, and also Tokyo or Hong Kong. In Japan, I was deeply impressed by the light inside rooms with Shoji. The paper filters the light in a special way, and makes it soft and kind. That experience is the origin of all my designs for lamps made of paper.
In 2009 when Euroluce was held, the demonstration against the abolishment of the incandescent light bulbs attracted a lot of attention. Is incandescent light special to you?
What do you think incandescent light has to offer us?
The incandescent light bulb is special, because, with its filament, it reminds us of fire. Fire is a natural light source but humans use and control it since ancient times. Its warmth makes us feel save. Up to now, LED lighting, or the light emitted by fluorescent bulbs never achieved to create the same atmosphere. We believe that we should be permitted to use a variety of light sources, each with their unique quality, just as we can consume a variety of bread or use a variety of cars, which consume more or less energy. The presentation was also meant to question the policy of the European Union. We think the regulations for the light bulbs are based on insufficient research; they pushed a product, fluorescent bulbs that produce a very unsatisfying quality of light and are very unpopular in many parts of Europe, and also not safe because of the mercury inside.
In everyday life, incandescent light is being replaced by LED light. What demands do you think light will be required to meet henceforth? And what do you think light should be?
Since the quality of LEDs has become so much better, in many cases it is now really possible and recommendable to replace incandescent or halogen bulbs with high-quality LEDs. But the emphasis here is on ‘high-quality’. The diodes have to provide a really good colour rendering, and the light colour (Kelvin) should not be too high for use in homes, especially in lamps that are switched on in the evening. I don’t think people will change the way they feel about light. Of course, there’s more awareness now that around the world, there are different sensitivities towards light.
What kind of light sources or technologies are you interested in or would like to use for creative purposes in the future?
In the past decade, or more than that, I’ve experimented and worked with all new technologies, LED and OLED, but also with the older technologies of incandescent and halogen bulbs, as well as neon tubes. At the moment, I feel drawn back to the red glow of filaments, or natural fire. But it is well possible that tomorrow, an engineer comes and shows me something new, and I’ll be immediately fascinated, so that my mind starts producing ideas.
If you could reproduce the lighting of any country or region from any time (period, decade, season, time of day, etc.) and under any weather condition, what would it be?
It would definitely be very interesting to reproduce, but probably only for a couple of hours, the night sky of times before cities or landscapes were full of electrical light. Darkness and shadows are an important part of ‘lighting’, uniform and diffuse lighting is not inspiring at all.
The Lucellino LED will finally be unveiled. What are your thoughts about the TRI-R on the Lucellino?
I am still amazed of the light of the TRI-R bulb. It dims smoothly, providing brightness when turned up, and when you dim it, the bright spot in the middle of the bulb turns to a beautiful reddish tone. I was always very skeptic before the meetings with the engineers who presented the prototypes. I think it is a great achievement. Bravo!
Biography Ingo Maurer
|1932||Born in RAIHENAU in Germany and Constant lake (burden lake) lakeside.|
|1954||After an apprenticeship as typesetter, he studied graphic design in Munich, Germany.|
|1966||In 1963, he moved back to Germany, and founded Design M, a company developing and manufacturing lamps after his own designs. The company was later renamed to "Ingo Maurer GmbH". One of his first designs, «Bulb» has been included in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966.|
|1984||He presented the low-voltage wire system «YaYaHo», consisting of two horizontally fixed metal ropes and a series of adjustable lighting elements with halogen bulbs, which became an instant success.|
|1989||In 1989 the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain in Jouy-en-Josas near Paris staged the exhibition Ingo Maurer: Lumière Hasard Réflexion, which gave the designer his first opportunity to create lighting installations of a non-commercial nature. In the same year he also had a retrospective in the city then known as Leningrad.|
|1992||The winged light bulb «Lucellino».|
|1997||«Where are you ,Edison,…?» «Zetel’z»|
|1997||Announced the first table lamp using a LED, «La Bellisisima Brutta». Named “Designer of the Year 1997” by the German magazine Architektur und Wohnen (Architecture and Housing).|
|1998||The giant aluminium lampshades for the Westfriedhof underground station in Munich.
|1999||Opened a showroom and store in New York, and was awarded the Design Award by the City of Munich.
Lighting installation at the Issey Miyake Fashion Show (Paris, La Villette), and involved in similar works in London showrooms
|2000||Lucky Strike Designer Award of Raymond Loewy Foundation, Germany|
|2002||Collab's Design Excellence Award, Philadelphia Museum of Art|
|2003||Georg Jensen Prize, Copenhagen / Oribe Award, Japan|
|2005||Royal Designer of Industry, Royal Society of Arts, London|
|2006||Honorary doctorate of Royal College of Art, London|
|2010||Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany|
|2011||Compasso d'Oro, category career|