Even if, like me, you long ago renounced organized religion, Lee Broom’s “Divine Inspiration” exhibition during Milan Design Week might have sent chills up your spine. Hail, the first lighting piece you encounter, rains down six metres from a lofty ceiling, its illuminated shards evoking the shafts of sunlight that beam down from cathedral lancet windows — or the spears of gold that struck Saint Teresa’s ecstatic heart as she received God’s love.
Both references reflect Lee Broom’s intentions — he likens the effect of this supersized version of Hail to “the Rapture” — but it is the merging of the two, the spiritual and the architectural, that elevated his presentation beyond your typical product launch. (In fact, to even refer to it as such feels trite.)
To stage his first show in four years, which coincided with his brand’s 15th anniversary, the British designer spent time researching places of worship across Europe. His references range from the Pantheon in Rome (whose coffered dome inspired the cast-Jesmonite squares that make up the Pantheum fixture) to St. Nicholas Church in Hérémence, Switzerland (a multi-faceted concrete interior designed by Walter Maria Förderer in 1971; its brutalist forms are conjured by the Vesper pendants, which were suspended in multiples).
“I wanted to create a lighting collection that evoked the same sense of awe and mysticism as those buildings and their interiors,” Broom explains.
He more than succeeded. In each room of the Blindarte gallery building, tucked into the quotidian fabric of Via Palermo, his interpretations grew more and more awe-inspiring. One of them, Requiem, actually made me gasp. Made by dipping fabrics in plaster and hand-draping them through and around rings, tubes and spheres, the fixtures recalled the essence of saintly figures: a glimpse of the Madonna from the corner of your eye, more in soul than in physical form.
That feeling of your heart opening — of being transported to something beyond the everyday — usually happens with art. Lee Broom’s “Divine Inspiration” delivered it with design.
British designer Lee Broom staged his first show in four years – the lighting series Divine Inspiration – and it was well worth the wait.