Few people working in the rather serious industry of industrial design have the ability to weave magic through every one of their pieces the way Ingo did. According to his Wikipedia page, he was nicknamed the “poet of light” — a title he certainly lived up to.
Rather than working to conceal the light source as most traditional lighting designers do, Ingo’s work has always exposed and underscored the beauty of the basic architecture and technology of lighting itself. His first piece, called Bulb, is a large crystal globe encompassing a smaller one; created in 1966, Bulb is now included in the MoMA permanent collection.
There are so many wonderful, humorous, and delightful pieces from Ingo that it is hard to choose a favourite. The first piece I recall falling in love with is the Lucellino designed in 1992. It is a simple bulb with angel wings attached to the lamp — such a sweet way to draw attention to the beauty and simplicity of a bare bulb fixture.
As the most basic building block of light, bulbs are a recurring theme in Ingo’s work. However, as lighting technology evolved, so did Ingo’s lights; in 1984 he integrated low-voltage wiring into the structure of his revolutionary YaYaHo installation, in 2001, he was one of the first to use LEDs in EL.E.DEE, and in 2012 used exposed circuit boards and LEDs to imitate candlelight in My New Flame.
We, at Inform Interiors, have had the privilege of knowing, and working with Ingo for many years — since the early 1980s in fact. Inform Interiors’ owner, Nancy Bendtsen first saw an installation of YaYaHo at a German bar years before joining Inform and remembers the power and purity of the piece as there had not been anything else like it anywhere before. Over the years Nancy and Ingo developed a special relationship, and in 2011, Ingo created a Comic Explosion expressly for the Inform Interiors Permanent Collection, with a special message written for Nancy inscribed on it. The most recent addition to the Permanent Collection is our very own Porca Miseria which is currently installed at the front entrance of the showroom at 50 Water Street.
Perusing the full range of pieces Ingo created over the years will bring a smile to anyone’s lips. There was no material or concept that was out of bounds to Ingo — tea strainers, paint tubes, holograms, paper, and more — as he continued to experiment and push the boundaries of what a light is, should, and could be.
An integral part of Ingo’s process was collaboration. He was an outstanding collaborator, always inclusive of his team — designers, builders, warehouse workers — during the design process. Not only did he work with a variety of people to adapt and strengthen the designs of his lights, but he also saw the viewer, or user, as a vital collaborator when they played, moved around, and interacted with the final pieces. This humble approach embodies the spirit of the Ingo Maurer brand.
When a true artist has honed his craft (in any medium), the final work is perfectly pared down to its essence; it is an elegant solution that has no beginning and no end. The concept and the final execution are married such that the viewer, or user, is immersed in the experience and is left basking in the aura of the piece itself.
Earlier this year, I asked Ingo one question: “What inspires you about Light?”. He answered,
“The power of light — for better or for worse. It can be pleasing, caressing and uplifting, but it can be also harmful and depressing.”
Ingo Maurer was a magician making objects that people can take home and use every single day. He will be truly missed by every one of us at Inform Interiors.