Minimalist Icon Michael Anastassiades Is Maison&Objet Paris Designer Of the Year 2020
Even as a child, Michael Anastassiades had a burning curiosity about the objects around him; how each item is made and its personal significance. “I was always interested in objects, in the sense of being very intrigued about what makes an object acquire value and mean something to us, more than just simply serving a function.”
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Although the Cypriot-born, London-based designer had first trained as an engineer, his artistic streak sparked his desire to take on a more creative route. Becoming an industrial designer seemed to combine the best of both worlds. “My dream was to become an artist, but at some point I realised I had a very practical approach to things, so that’s why I became a designer instead,” he says.
Among his most famous designs is the Mobile chandelier, which has a minimalist form that appears like a floating sculpture. The 52-year-old has since designed 16 versions of it, moving from angular structures to pendant lights with increasingly sinuous shapes; the most recent editions feature slim metal rods like calligraphy strokes. “I started with very linear configurations for these pieces and then slowly, I moved into more geometric forms and curves,” he says, while speaking to us at the Euroluce fair during Milan Design Week. “What you see here today are more organic curves; kind of like drawings and gestures."
Although the internationally acclaimed designer is best known for his lighting collections, he admits that a certain pragmatism actually inspired his initial foray into the field. “When I started my brand, I wanted to focus on one thing so that it’s much more manageable, rather than to produce everything as a small company,” he shares. “And lighting was that one thing I decided to focus on, also in terms of scale. I was also very encouraged by people who really liked my pieces to continue in lighting design.”
There is a poetic beauty to how Anastassiades has created lamps with simple shapes in strikingly original compositions. His engineering background also finds practical purpose through the clever integration of technology to enhance both function and form, be it through touch and motion-sensitive features or ingenious designs that conceal wires and other mechanisms. “I always felt like I ran away from engineering as far as possible,” he shares. “But it’s not true, you can’t run away from anything in life. Your experiences, your exposure to things marks the way you are and how you see things.”
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Another notable new collection is the Primitive Structure, a portable and rechargeable lamp which features just two black rectangular blocks made in anodised satin aluminium. The top block can be swivelled to direct light where it is needed. “The way that you interact with the product is really important,” he says, explaining the choice of materials and the simplified form of his collections. “Not just purely in terms of convenience but also in terms of making the experience more enriching. It’s not just the functionality, but the tactility, the temperature; the whole experience of how you interact with the product.”
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The designer, who was recently named the Maison&Objet Paris (M&O Paris) Designer of the Year for 2020, also demonstrated the variety of his work in the Things that Go Together exhibition held from March to July 2019 at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre in Cyprus. “It was an interesting invitation from a museum in Cyprus; I’ve never considered doing an exhibition of that scale before,” he shares. “It’s a beautiful space but also quite overwhelming because the space is huge. So the only way it made sense was to show a body of work. That’s why it became (a show of) 12 years of my career.”
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Anastassiades opted to display his lighting collections on the floor, as well as to take a non-chronological approach by combining prototypes, early research and final products to showcase the spontaneity of his design process. “I mixed everything in that exhibition; there is no chronology and there is no hierarchy. I don’t differentiate within my products, I don’t differentiate the value, whether it’s expensive or cheap. For me, they’re all equally important.”
He sums up his personal convictions as succinctly. “I don’t want to dilute my vision, I don’t want to compromise. I just want to produce things of quality and only the things that I believe in,” he says. “There is no point in repeating yourself and copying each other, or producing yet another chair or light unless you have something different to say. Otherwise there is no point in doing it.”
Michael Anastassiades lighting collections are available at P5