Life’s too short to make something ordinary
Watch the video of Hollow now
Interview with Hollow designer James Van Vossel
At Modular Lighting Instruments, we enjoy getting to know our designers. We poke inside to take a look at their passions, and their interpretations of beauty. This time we’re interviewing James Van Vossel. Waking up and stepping outside in the garden, seeing nature change as the morning light rises all around, is the best time of day for James. Designer, artist-not-artist, innovator, lecturer, dad, lover, buyer of undefined, quirky objects. James designs with soul and purpose. He wants us to use his creations. MLI asked him to create a light. James came to us with Hollow, and here’s what he has to say.
How’s your journey between a sketch and the product in the shop?
When I have something in mind, it starts with a sketch. If I make a functional object, I need to be sure that it will work. I have to find out its limits, and make sure it’s possible to produce. I’m not making a one-off piece. There’s beauty in making something functional, and that’s why I’m a designer. Not an artist.
Why did you choose to work with a tube?
I got a briefing from MLI. I was supposed to create a recessed luminaire for the ceiling. I took a circle and started experimenting with using a sphere. Then I added a tube, with rounded corners. When it’s closed, all you see are two parallel lines, inside a circle, inside the ceiling. This visual was very new, so we liked that.
Was there a point when you thought this isn’t going to work?
Yes. In the initial design, the light could be tilted at 45°. MLI thought this is really good, but this isn’t for ceilings, they said, it’s for walls. Ruth, the MLI engineer I worked with intensely, supported me a lot. I found a solution to rotate the tube and tilt it out 90°. This added a lot of value, because it became a fixture for both wall and ceiling, giving direct and indirect light. Two applications with one design. It’s really what MLI is about. Hollow creates a dialogue in the room.
For Hollow, when did you decide to repurpose light, the glow reflecting off the inner cup?
The indirect light was there from the beginning, on a very cold winter day. There were always two light sources, one up and one down, but due to heat, we went for one. We chose the strongest light possible and the best suited lens technology. So that the inside cup would still be a ring of light.
Could you imagine another member of the Hollow family?
I hadn’t thought of it, but now that you mention it, I’d love that. I already have ideas now! I like to push companies, deviate from the usual, provoke. Sometimes, it’s just for inspiration. Who knows one day, I’ll create something for MLI that’s not a light. I think it’s important to forge your own path and stop following everyone on the main road. Sure it can be dangerous, but it’s beautiful.
Watch the video of Hollow now
Picture 1 ©Alain Six