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3 January 2024
Introducing the use of thread in the construction of light
In the dialogue between research and industry, the winner is whoever manages to get the best out of both and therefore harmonize the freedom of the former with the technology of the latter, preserving the poetry of intuition and finding the best way to make it usable. Umut Yamac, English, architect and lighting designer, succeeds. Among his most famous projects in this field are Perch for Moooi and Array for Vibia, both sharing grace, personality, and a sense of movement. Array was launched at the latest edition of Euroluce and, as Yamac explains, it is the result of a path of free research which was followed by an important phase of industrialization.
When and why did you start experimenting with the use of thread in lighting design?
It started with a project called Spun Halo, which was the first project where I worked with yarn. I was interested in creating something that had volume but could also collapse into a small footprint. I find the possibility of creating something that starts small and can then give rise to a larger volume very interesting. Spun Halo was made up of two intersecting conical forms and very much handmade, woven by hand thread which was very time consuming! The resulting form created a fascinating visual effect which was worthy of further exploration, so I continued working with this concept to explore the potential.
And this path led you to design Array for Vibia: how did this collaboration come about?
Pere Llonch, CEO of Vibia, had seen some of my past projects using thread including Spun Halo and SpunPrism, and this was the starting point for a collaborative exploration of yarn, tension and volume. On the one hand there was formal exploration of form and space, and on the other a very technical study of industrial process that could be used and adapted to create the level of precision required to realize these products. From the technical side the R&D team at VIBIA were instrumental, and finally these two sides came together for the first presentation of the collection at Euroluce 2023.
In this regard, how do you find the balance between personal research and industrial production?
I don’t try to find a balance between these two things. For me, they both need their own space. Often personal research is disjointed and chaotic and it needs the space to breath, and every piece of research doesn’t necessarily translate into industrial production. Industrial production is often a subsequent challenge in the design process, where materials and technology are explored and industrial processes dissected to see what fits, what can be adapted and what needs to be reinvented.
In what kind of space do you imagine this light?
Array is a delicate, warm and emotional light and therefore suitable for a domestic environment. At the same time, its transparency and volumetric nature work well in larger spaces where it can be layered and used in clusters. The lightness and transparency of the thread creates the illusion of movement which really adds a dynamic and airy quality to every space.
In general, what are your priorities when starting a new project?
I think about whether the project – whether an installation, light or piece of furniture – contributes to the rest of the space. How can the design add something more and make it a more dynamic and enjoyable space to occupy.
As an architect, what aspects of home design do you think should get more attention?
There’s lots of great work being done in domestic architecture and, the quality of the design and build is constantly improving. From my point of view the use of light within the design can always be pushed further. Whether its natural or artificial, the lighting can be used to create different spaces and emotions which ultimately add to our overall wellbeing as occupants.
How would you describe your home?
It’s a Victorian terrace in East London which has been refurbished with some contemporary takes on traditional features. Victorian buildings often have very balanced proportions but no insulation which is really needed for the London winters!
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