Now 80, Ingo Maurer’s visionary work has pushed the boundaries of lighting design for more than four decades. Lim Sio Hui catches up with the German designer Ingo Maurer at A Dozen Red Things, his latest exhibition at Spazio Krizia during during design week in Milan this year. LSH: Your show this year focuses on collaborative projects, especially with experimental young talent including Moritz Waldemeyer, Christoph Matthias and Lutz Pankow. Do you deliberately choose to work with the new generation of designers?
IM: Candle in the Wind is beautiful. Mortiz and I have always wanted to work together. As for Da + Dort, I never really agreed to working with Christoph Matthias but I wanted to give a liberty to this young person. A Tool wasn’t a success and I came up with another idea based on his design. Helping young designers is very important to me. It's nice to work with them, it’s like seeing new grass growing, you know? I know how difficult it is. Being young is wonderful, but it also has psychological complications, keeping them from being free in the mind.
LSH: LED wallpaper is going into production now, six years after you first launched it right here in Spazio Krizia. Is commercial success an aim in your work?
IM: No. If it happens, it’s a confirmation that you’ve done well. If it doesn’t happen, maybe I’m disappointed, but I don’t remember anything which hasn’t failed. It’s sometimes in the numbers, or if the producer goes bankrupt.
LSH: Do you always have a faith that it will eventually be realised?
IM: Yes it’s true, you have to really be behind it. Sometimes I don’t push enough. My new Floating Table is something I could have done 30 years ago. Some of my lamps took twenty years to do. Eddie’s Son, for instance. It was because it was not the time to be produced commercially, because of the technique to get the LED films, etcetera...
LSH: What spurs you to take on a new project these days?
IM: It depends on the challenge, and how much time you really need. I like to consider my work as fun, that’s the type of project that I want, I want to enjoy!
LSH: You won the Compasso d'Oro for International Lifetime Achievement last year, so we're curious: what do you consider a challenge?
IM: A challenge for me can be many different things. It can be a space, situations, or changing the perspective of a conservative mind. If I can step into something that I have to rethink and make new inventions.
LSH: Can you give us an example?
IM: I’m working on a pavilion in the Inhotim Art Park in Brazil, which opens next year. It’s an art pavillion to show my work, but I don’t want it to have my products.
LSH: So what will we find inside?
IM: Absolutely nothing! First of all, I’d like people to enjoy being in a space that’s more or less empty, then we start to add pictures, playing with light and giving lectures. Talking about light as a spiritual source, but also about the technical side of light. It’s in the form of an egg, an egg that makes people more conscious of how wonderful light is in our lives, from daylight to artificial light.