Dubai-based designer Pallavi Dean, founder of boutique practice Roar, has collaborated with Italian lighting firm Artemide to launch a new flexible lighting system, Interweave, during Euroluce, as part of Salone del Mobile in Milan.
In this interview, Dean shares more details about the new product, Interweave, and her partnership with Artemide
HOW DID THE COLLABORATION WITH ARTEMIDE COME ABOUT?
I met Carlotta de Bevilacqua, vice president and CEO of Artemide, at Downtown Design 2018. We were on a panel together, Women and design: In the driver’s seat. The conversation carried on long after the discussion was over. It’s safe to say we had a lot to talk about. I find her design journey fascinating.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DESIGN DETAILS OF THIS PRODUCT?
It is a flexible system that integrates light and services, leaving everyone the freedom to design their own environmental quality. Suspended cylinders fixed to the ceiling or to the wall, guide a flexible LED light line, allowing to freely model it following soft and unexpected geometries.
The light connects the different elements of the system, evoking a theme of connections and relationships; it is a light that celebrates connections, the intersection of countries, cultures, and creativity as a unique source of energy.The cylindrical bodies can have two sizes, they can have the sole function of supporting the line of light or become the base for spotlights, intelligence elements, and devices such as speakers and sensors. Each volume is hollowed out with several sinuous holes, that with their organic movement recall of the paths created by water. They are functional elements of the interlocking of the luminous line, a mechanical intelligence that becomes an aesthetic feature.
The multiplicity of cuts leaves free to define different positions to shape the diffusing light element. Scenographic in designing its shape through the light, it develops functional and comfortable lighting. Interaction is central to the project. This light solution is a kit of pieces that can be assembled and manipulated according to individual needs.
WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL ATTRIBUTES OF INTERWEAVE?
For me, as for Artemide, man is the essence and the main protagonist of every space. We want users to become the 'authors' of the space they inhabit. This system wants to encourage interaction with space and with the human beings that occupy it.
It has total flexibility: starting from the freedom in the number and positioning of the cylinders the extension of the composition can grow, so as to follow the needs of the spaces. The cylinders can also become junction elements for several lines of light, which can be replicated on a 5m module basis.
The diffused light that the LED strip generates can be combined with more punctual emissions inserted into the cylinders, in order to draw light landscapes that follow functional needs.
Interweave generates not only a bright but also a sound experience, thanks to the speakers' integration. The interaction is then enhanced by the possibility of controlling the single element of the system with the intuitive Artemide App, also through the Alexa voice control. Not only active management but also interaction controlled by motion sensors that make Interweave react to the presence in a programmed way.
WHAT DID THE ITERATIVE PROCESS BEHIND THIS RANGE ENTAIL?
This is was such a fun collaboration — creative play at its best. With everything I work on, the narrative is at the core, and I was delighted that Carlotta’s approach is exactly the same. We went back and forth on refining the storyline — it was like writing a short story. Only when we had this nailed, the product development and materials came into play. There were lots of Skype calls — many rhino models were transferred back and forth. I spent a whole day at the Milan factory with the product development team, making prototypes and playing with potential materials.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS PRODUCT?
We live in an era which is increasingly building more and more barriers — border walls, trade wars, Brexit and such. We believe the magic happens when we make connections, and that the intersection of countries, cultures, and creativity is a source of ideas and energy.
This light celebrates those intersections. Because it’s when materials and forms collide that the light shines through, in ways we could never otherwise have imagined. The spontaneous shapes, shades, and shadows that spring from these joints and connections are a source of inspiration.
The main piece is a long, flowing strip of light that weaves its way through space, draped around a framework of cylindrical forms suspended from the ceiling. The metal cylinders aren’t just structural — one is a music speaker, another a projector, another a presence detector, and so on. It’s a playful, multi-sensory lighting installation that’s infinitely flexible and customisable: it comes as a kit of parts, so no two installations will be the same.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH ARTEMIDE AND CARLOTTA DE BEVILACQUA?
I won’t say the cliched things like she is an inspirational woman. Everyone already knows that. Her story is fascinating — she is an architect, professor and a businesswoman — someone who still has many of her students working alongside her in the company. Our stories have many parallels. But more than that, we have a genuine connection and are bound by the fact that we both use colour pencils! At our product development workshop, it was rather funny when we opened our independent pencil cases, and had the exact same colour pencils. It is an old school creative expression.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MILAN, THE CITY OF DESIGN?
I first went to Milan as a 13-year-old when the Lira was still the currency. I remember coming back from the holiday and telling my friends I was a Milan millionaire. I’ve been coming back ever since. Of course, as a designer, I visit Salone del Mobile, but I’ve been back on a skiing holiday with my two sons, a weekend away with the girls, and a holiday with my husband. And of course, I’ve been coming a lot recently to the Artemide factory, developing the lights we’re launching at Euroluce 2019. The people, the place, and of course, the design vibe make it hands down my favourite European city.