Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The ‘Wednesday Light’, was the first version of the Garland light shade. Tord Boontje’s idea for this originated from drawings on paper and paper modeling of a garland around his daughter’s bedroom light. This is a rather beautiful and thoughtful approach. There is a sense of magic, and fantasy behind it. Delicate flowers wrapped around a beam of light, filling a room with a sense of mystery. The Garland Light shade itself looks almost hand crafted with time and care taken to produce such a stunning display, which would only be found deep in the forest where fairies and elves would live. The 1.6 meter long metal garland of flowers wraps around the light bulb and can intertwine with fellow Garland light shades.

The way that the garland of flowers wraps delicately around the light, gives the impression of a wonderful hand crafted skillfully produced item, delivered with hours of work and patience. However, not only is the Garland Light shade not handcrafted, but also, it is quite spectacularly, boringly delivered flat-packed. The Light shade is produced digitally etched and laser cut using a CNC routing machine. After knowing this, the whole fairytale story of a wonderful piece is lost, with the feeling that no such sense of history could come from a standardized and manufactured process.

Tord Boontje is in fact, an independent Industrial designer.

“I like working in collections, experimenting with new thoughts and seeking change and development, which is a main driving force behind my work.”

This for me, sets the scene of a ‘research, design, development’ way of thinking. A well thought out design process rather than something created as a one off piece. This gives a sense of a design method rather than an Arts or Craft approach. It feels like a product, which has to pass through several stages of development to get to the final outcome.

I can’t help but feel that something is lost amongst the whole process of making the Garland light shade. The fact that you can intertwine several Garland light shades together and the fact that Tord Boontje initially only made limited edition prototypes before it was taken to mass market, suggests that he wanted to avoid the branded, mass produced and standardized design element of the light shade and also suggests a more Arts and Crafts approach to the overall aesthetics.

He wanted the light shade to “make a more unique result for every purchase.”

I am a little disappointed after realizing that the Garland light shade is a mass produced product, that it comes flat packed, and that the process of making it has a more standardized approach. After initially seeing several photographs of it, you feel there is a story behind the product, that it has a history, and that someone has taken time and effort to create such a beautiful piece. Then only to delve deep into it’s background and to find it’s not quite what you first expected it to be.