This article is part of our Design special report previewing 2023 Milan Design Week.
This year, the biennial international lighting fair Euroluce, which runs from April 18 through April 23, will check into the fairgrounds at the edge of Milan and dazzle visitors with the latest innovations in this most revolutionary of design categories. New experiments in lighting will also sparkle at concurrent exhibitions like Alcova and in showrooms, courtyards and commandeered palaces in other parts of the Italian city.
What follow are some highlights of lighting presentations taking place during Milan Design Week.
A Flexible Fixture
Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, Anna Boch and David Engelhorn, a German couple who are designers, played with a piece of rope. The pleasure they took from its flexibility and beautiful curves led them to develop Mr. Bojangles, a light fixture with an arm that swivels 360 degrees.
Mr. Bojangles has an aluminum head that contains an LED bulb and a cloth cord attached to a sturdy steel base. Its whimsy, simplicity and versatility — not to mention its allusion to a famous tap dancer — put it squarely in the tradition of Ingo Maurer, the celebrated German designer who died in 2019 but whose self-named company lives on and is producing the light. A wall version is in the works.
Carlo Urbinati, the owner of the Italian lighting house Foscarini, bought Ingo Maurer last year and said he was determined to preserve its DNA. “The company has a long heritage, and its own personality,” he said, adding that he intended to maintain a strict division between the businesses.
Mr. Bojangles can be seen April 18-23 at Euroluce, Hall 11, Stand 208. It will also be presented on those dates at “Floating Reflection,” an exhibition at the Porta Nuova arch, Piazzale Principessa Clotilde; ingo-maurer.com. — ARLENE HIRST
Lighting Inspired by the Cosmos
Founded in 2007 by Leon Jakimic, the Czech glass and lighting company Lasvit has danced with a variety of world-class design partners, including David Rockwell. Recently Lasvit’s crystal has found its way into custom lighting installations by Rockwell Group for the Equinox Hotel and Peak restaurant in the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.
For their next waltz, Mr. Rockwell and Lasvit have partnered on Constellation, a lighting collection inspired by New York City’s night sky — and the Beaux-Arts celestial ceiling mural at Grand Central Terminal. “It’s one of my favorite landmarks,” said Mr. Rockwell, describing the mural as “the ultimate convener.”
Those same stars have now aligned in six fixtures the designer is officially launching at the Euroluce lighting show during Milan Design Week. Cassiopeia, shown, is an aluminum fixture that can serve as a chandelier and also as a wall sconce, consisting of five orbs strung into a sort-of “W” shape, like the constellation that sparkles in the northern sky. Similarly, the Polaris floor lamp, Gemini table lamp, Tri-Stars wall sconce and Ursa Minor chandelier take their cues from the heavens.
“Stars have provided travelers with the original method of wayfinding,” Mr. Rockwell said. They have also been known to distract New York City commuters rushing to catch their trains.
On view April 18-23 at Euroluce, Hall 15, Stand 212; lasvit.com. — MELISSA FELDMAN
Seeing the Light in Different Forms and Shapes
From the time she opened her New York studio in 2006, Lindsey Adelman has produced lighting collections using metal and glass that have graced many an upscale interior. But this year, at Alcova, the itinerant design exhibition space in Milan, Ms. Adelman will unveil LaLAB, which is described as “a new platform for experimental work without agenda.” Or, as the designer put it, “It’s not systems or collections; I make each piece individually. It’s sculptural as opposed to industrial design, which is what I usually do.”
The new works are grouped into three categories: Cages, Mobiles and Rock Lights. They contain the DNA of Ms. Adelman’s industrially produced work, but with more quirks and spontaneity. The Cages, based on her Cherry Bomb Cages, “take the structure a lot further,” Ms. Adelman said, describing them as “charged and transparent.” For the Mobiles, she takes elements made in advance and arranges them intuitively and playfully, with raw minerals like pyrite, malachite and amber used for their transformative properties. The Rock Lights are unique table lamps with handblown crystal lights draped over different minerals.
On view from Monday through April 23 at Viale Molise 62; lindseyadelman.com. — PILAR VILADAS
A Homegrown Connection to Murano Glass
Dario Buratto, a fashion designer, grew up in Rovigo, Italy, near Murano, and has long been fascinated with the Venetian island’s handblown glassware. So it was a small step when he translated his love of Murano chandeliers into lighting that resembles jewelry.
Broken Charm is a modular lighting system of blown-glass globes linked by cast-brass chains to create lamps that are like giant illuminated charm bracelets. Produced in Tuscany with Murano glass for Stories of Italy, a Milan-based brand and design studio where Mr. Buratto is the artistic director, the customizable lighting comes with spheres in diameters of 20, 25 and 30 centimeters (about 8, 10 and 12 inches). A version of Broken Charm with six meters (about 20 feet) of chain will be shown from Monday through April 23 at Alcova, Viale Molise 62. storiesofitaly.com. — ARLENE HIRST
A Lamp With a Softer Side
The overriding concern for any lamp, John Pawson said, is that “it has to look good when it’s not lit. That’s the goal.” The English architectural designer’s latest effort for Wastberg, a Swedish lighting company, has resulted in two versions of the same design produced in different materials: marble and aluminum. “We first thought of marble for the way it so beautifully transmits light,” Mr. Pawson said. “But everyone soon realized that it was very heavy (it weighs over 11 pounds) and very expensive.”
Searching for a more affordable option, he hit on aluminum. “It has a nice, soft feel to the touch,” he said. With its combination of curved and rectilinear lines, the marble lamp has a sculptural presence, whereas the aluminum design’s matte extruded exterior and hollow interior feel more high-tech. Mr. Pawson is already using the aluminum version in his office. “Everything is about me,” he said, explaining that he cannot design anything without a specific context in mind. Both lights are 7.75 inches tall and 7.75 inches deep and have dimmable six-watt LED bulbs. On view April 18-23 at Euroluce, Hall 13, Stand 21; wastberg.com. — ARLENE HIRST
Google Explores a Fluid Form
As it races to compete in the metaverse, Google might, at first blush, seem like a surprising participant at that grand annual display of analog wonders: Milan Design Week.
But the tech giant is coming not with furniture, but to once again share ideas about how technology links up to sensation.
In 2018, the Google team mulled the marriage of bytes and everyday life, in a Milan exhibition called “Softwear”; the next year, it contemplated neuroaesthetics and the way art, colors, textures and scents make us feel, in “A Space for Being.” Now, the company is exploring water.
As Ivy Ross, Google’s vice president of hardware design, put it, “Water is very resilient.” (This might explain how her team hit on the concept in the Covid pandemic, while contemplating how to survive perilous times.) “It goes around rocks,” she said. “It could be strong and fierce, like a waterfall, or it could be soft and rhythmic, and carry someone along.”
For “Shaped by Water,” this year’s exhibition, the design team partnered with Lachlan Turczan, a Los Angeles-based artist, to create installations that mix water with light and sound. In one space, pools of water in mirrored sculptures will hum and flow, responding to the movement of people around them. In another, participants will lie back in planetarium-style seating in a dusky room and gaze upward at the ceiling, where reflections of wavy light patterns created by musical vibrations running through liquid dance and spin.
“Much like cloud-gazing or staring into a fire, this experience is never twice the same,” Mr. Turczan said in an email.
In the last room, visitors will watch a film that highlights the way water drips, forming “this beautiful bubble,” as Ms. Ross described it. The design team used that form as a model for the shape of the Google watch introduced last fall, the first of those products to be engineered fully in-house.
Ms. Ross said she was happy to be an outlier among the conventional furnishings and decorative objects of Milan Design Week. “I love giving people a moment to be inspired and to have a different experience and to take pause,” she said. In a place full of visual stimuli, she said, “It’s like the space between the notes.” On view April 18-23 at Garage 21, Via Archimede 26. — MEGAN McCREA