At Frankfurt’s Light + Building, Azure chats with the founder of Chicago design studio Minimal, about his latest fixture, Sisifo, for Artemide.
Azure: Sisifo is your first light for Artemide. Describe the collaboration.Scott Wilson: I ran into them at a NeoCon party and they suggested we revisit some concepts I had worked on previously. Then, Artemide’s co-founder Ernesto Gismondi came to Chicago last summer, visited the studio and asked us to look at task lamps. So we did an exploration on what LED task lights could be – we’re still looking for the next Tolomeo, which this is not. LEDs have a lot of potential, so we asked: How could we do something that was different than just LEDs in a typical task lamp form.
AZ: How did the initial brainstorm evolve into a concept?
SW: This was kind of a last second idea. But we’d done a lot – close to 20 different proposals. And this was one of those last second thoughts, where I was just like, ‘There’s got to be something else.’ Essentially, it really came from table lamps. I also work with Steelcase’s Coalese, which uses the live/work approach, so there was that influence. If you have this typology of a lamp that is typically on a work desk, what happens is that we start working more on the couch or on the bed. Does a task light look right, next to my Poliform bed? Not really. Typical table lamps are usually the heavy ornate or have a matte vertical base, a stem and a light shade. If you look at Sisifo, there’s something familiar about it. You don’t need the shade anymore, you just have the light surface. It’s a hybrid of task lamp with table light.
AZ: When did you see the final product?
SW: Two days ago. Only three or four weeks ago, I got an invite to Light + Building and a contract – so here it is. I think we’ll be tweaking it; figuring out what the most efficient, thinnest, lightest, brightest light engine is.
AZ: Are you interested in designing more lighting products?
SW: We probably have close to 50 light concepts sitting around the office. We’re always interested in doing lighting. We may be doing more since it’s becoming easier to prototype concepts. With rapid prototyping, you can do things that are more expressive now.
AZ: What’s your design approach?
SW: I tend to understand what they’re asking for and then think about how it could be different and what the lateral inspirations are. It’s about connecting the dots, which doesn’t happen immediately and sometimes it just comes to me. Other times it doesn’t have a solution and I just need to let it sink in for a while. With Sisifo, it was like that. I thought, and thought and was just frustrated and knew I was thinking too much about a traditional, typical task light.
AZ: You spent a lot of time thinking about the concept. What was the timeline for Sisifo?
SW: I think we thought about it for a quite a long time. It was four-five months of not doing anything. We were just busy. But it was in the back of my head. I knew we had this project with Artemide and I mentioned we were going to do something when we had some time. Eventually they called and asked if I had anything justr as we were one week into the concepts. They were supposed to take one, but ended up taking all 20 ideas. So, hopefully we’ll be working together on other projects.
AZ: What do you think about the version presented at Light + Building?
SW: It’s an early prototype and refinements aside, it doesn’t look like anything else out there, which is great.