One could call Michael Anastassiades the brilliant beachcomber of the lighting world. The London-based Cypriot-born designer is known to gather inspirations from life's bits and pieces (his ever-growing stone collection included) and transform them into utilitarian works of art. Even while waiting in airports, Anastassiades will keep his eyes peeled; always taking note of the little moments others might overlook. As a result, his lights embody the framework of daily life, with a minimalistic quality that isn’t easily washed away by the tides of time.
Despite a preference for eschewing obvious branding in favour of anonymity, Anastassiades’ signature stripped-back aesthetic is clearly identifiable, especially in his collections for leading manufacturers such as FLOS, Lobmeyr, and Svenskt Tenn. Simple rituals serve as stimuli. The designer’s String Lights collection for FLOS, for example, was motivated by the hypnotizing stream of electricity wires joined with pylons that he would often pass while travelling by train.
Using stark geometry and expressive lines, Anastassiades focuses on conveying the concept of equilibrium. His sophisticated IC Lights, also for FLOS, were created after watching a video clip featuring a graceful contact juggler. Anastassiades was intrigued by how the spinning spheres appeared to freeze in place on the performer’s arms and hands. This moment is portrayed using a combination of blown glass and delicate metallic shapes that form a sophisticated series of ceiling, floor, table and pendant lamps.
Leave it to a former yoga instructor to grasp the importance of mindfulness in lighting design. Before launching his own design studio in 1994, Anastassiades spent his days on the mat, working as a yoga instructor and training with K. Pattabhi Jois (the yoga guru who popularized Ashtanga yoga). Before that, he studied civil engineering—though his instinct has always been to eliminate the excess rather than contrive complicated structures.
To Anastassiades, true style is “simplicity”—a type of nirvana that can only be achieved when frivolity is shed and ideas are distilled. This care extends to his manufacturing process; a meticulous endeavour that involves collaborating with family-run workshops specializing in glass blowing, stone carving and expert finishing. Study his versatile lamps like Captain Flint for FLOS and you’ll notice innovative details (a rotating cone diffuser provides direct light that can be repositioned) and artisanal notes. The base of the lamp is anchored with a stunning white Carrara or black Marquina marble base, a testament to Anastassiades’ passion for using noble materials like stone, glass and wood.
Captain Flint Designed by Michael Anastassiades
“I wanted to design a light that was dual purpose,” states Anastassiades. “It is an up-lighter, illuminating the space with ambient lighting, and its rotation also offers a dim companion for reading. There’s a notion of balance, with a cone resting delicately on its point on a rotating rod.”
The Art of Simplicity
It’s no surprise his creations, varying from lighting and furniture to table top objects, have eternally swung between the worlds of fine art and design. Many have gracefully landed in high-end residential and commercial interiors, as well as the permanent collections of New York's Museum of Modern Art and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
Michael Anastassiades speaks to the crowd during his recent to visit to LightForm's Toronto showroom.
Various art influences have consistently found their way into Anastassiades’ signature brand, which he established in 2007. The celebrated Mobile Chandelier, for instance, pays homage to the work of American artist Alexander Calder, creator of the mobile sculpture. The streamlined series comprises more than a dozen distinctive suspension lamps crafted from black-patented brass rods punctuated with mouth-blown opaline spheres.
For his new Arrangements collection for FLOS, Anastassiades turned towards a different kind of pendant for inspiration: the version that’s worn around the neck. Long fascinated with the similarities between lighting and jewellery, Anastassiades set out to explore the parallels through a new family of luminaires. As its name implies, the Arrangements lighting system allows for multiple geometric compositions, with each unit attaching to the previous one to create a radiant chain. “I’m challenged in how the delicate nature of something small can be translated spatially and still manage to retain its preciousness in the way materials are presented,” states Anastassiades.
FLOS Arrangement Lighting Series
That small something may present itself in the form of a stone, a necklace or even the dexterity of a juggler. You will likely find all these things, and more, in the designer’s treasure trove of inspirations. Firmly planted in the moment yet motivated by longevity, Anastassiades is combing through it all—purifying the future of minimalist lighting.