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This week in Miami, Luminaire’s Design District location will feature a special installation of FLOS’s Noctambule lighting collection, designed by Konstantin Grcic. On view are five configurations of the modular, blown glass, floor lamps and suspended pendants, which are near invisible during the day and radiate an ambient glow at night.
The sculptural pieces are made up of glass cylinders that can be interconnected to a range of sizes and uses. Almost ethereal in affect, the series was captured by Santi Caleca, whose resulting photographs are shown in Miami, as well.
Whitewall spoke with the German designer last week to hear more about Noctambule.
WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for Noctambule?
KONSTANTIN GRCIC: The starting point was continuing my collaboration with FLOS, who I’ve been working with for many years. I tend to react or pick up where I left off with the last project. The last project was very technical—the OK Lamp. So, for this new project, I wanted to do something much more decorative, residential, bigger in scale, less industrial and technical, using techniques like blown glass.
Using LEDs offers a lot of possibilities. I felt it doesn’t have to be a very strong light source if we could actually amplify that small amount of light through something else, like a piece of glass. I became fascinated by the idea of creating a modern version of a chandelier. The classic crystal chandelier is a very big lamp with, originally, a few candles that would be amplified through the reflection in the crystal.
And in a way, that’s what happens with Noctambule. The rings that connect the glass elements are the light source. This little light gets amplified when reflected in the glass. And as a side effect, the whole thing is invisible.
WW: What kind of feeling in the room did you want to create with this light?
KG: It wasn’t so much about the economy, using little power, but that a flame of a candle, or a small light source, can create a nice, pleasant, comforting atmosphere. It was about creating a warm atmosphere of light. It’s not there but it is there, it occupies space and in a very pleasant way, not intruding.
WW: While it is quite large, there are options in terms of size because it is modular. Where did the idea for modularity come from?
KG: That came out of the technical development process. I have to give credit to the engineers at FLOS that made that possible. The lamp is almost like Legos that you can simply assemble and put together. You can create floor-standing columns or floating pendants.
WW: What do you have to consider when designing lighting, versus other objects?
KG: Lighting is very different to furniture. A lamp could be an object but not necessarily. It could also just be a light source, like from the ceiling. Light itself is immaterial. When designing light, one of the first decisions you make is whether to keep it as a very immaterial thing, or you decide to go physical, and make it a real object with a light source inside.
Noctambule, in a way, falls in between. That’s because it is so transparent during the day. It’s almost not there, but when you turn it on, it is there.
And another point that is relevant is that lighting design has really changed because of the development of new lighting technology. When I did my first project with FLOS 20 years ago, the standard was still a lightbulb that you screw into light fittings. Nowadays, we start by designing the actual light source. You are designing the perfect LED element that then goes into your lamp. It is very technology driven.
WW: What’s interesting with this collection is that you’re marrying that very technical aspect of lighting, with the traditional technique of blown glass.
KG: And that was quite challenging in the development, bringing the two components together. We have a very technical joint where the ring of light is. The actual module is blown glass. We had to find a way of working within those tolerances in order to create a very demanding and sophisticated object. You can see it in the surface of the glass, there is a slight unevenness—they’re not perfectly cylindrical—and that adds to the quality and to the atmosphere.