Amsterdam:  Jon Stam and Simon de Bakker of Commonplace Studio, the Netherlands design practice behind the breathtaking Design Days Dubai highlight, Lumiere ‘Cloud’, talk to Made Journal about their thought provoking work, their thoughts on Dubai’s design community and their favourite things to do while visiting our city.

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Photograph by Sandra Tinari

Having our head in the clouds is truly a beautiful thing

Tell us about Lumiere & where is it now?

The Lumière Cloud is a constellation of 28 glass pendant lamps that have micro projectors embedded in each lamp fixture. The projectors beam moving images of cloud-filled skies on to the inner surface of the bulb. The entire installation creates an immersive meteorologic spectacle. The double meaning of Lumière – referring to both the French word for light and the inventors, who popularised modern cinema – reflects its dual function. The Lumière Cloud, which debuted at Design Days Dubai, has since been acquired by an Indian client and is now enroute to Mumbai.

Since Design Days Dubai, we have been producing new constellations of Lumiere with new sizes of glass bulbs. The launch of the new editions took place this past June at Design Miami/Basel. During the fair we also presented a wall mounted version where the viewer could change the weather with a pull of a string. The wall version was a success and we now busy with assembly, packing and sending. Please see http://victor-hunt.com/collection/commonplace-studio for an overview of the current configurations.

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You were at Design Days Dubai 2015 –  how do you find the design industry here?

Our conversations with people in the design industry were mainly with architects, which makes sense as there are many buildings going up and many architects and interior designers were on the hunt for unique and memorable pieces. We were really hoping that the Lumière Cloud would find its home in Dubai, but another client snatched it up. Hopefully our contacts in Dubai would be still interested in our newer editions.

How was the response to Lumiere at Design Days Dubai?

The response to the Lumiere Cloud at Design Days Dubai was great. We were told by many that it was their highlight of the show and we actually had several people laying down on the floor to get the best view and experience. We also had many return visits from other gallery owners, which is always a good sign.

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What were your favourite memories of the city?

We had a quite interesting experience in several parts of the city, from posh Art Dubai parties to local eateries in Deira. But the most memorable are the people we met and chatting with the familiar faces of people, who we had met at Design Days Dubai 2014.

Good design education is crucial

You are teaching the new Digital Craft programme at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. How important is education in design?

We were lucky to have good, experienced and reputable mentors when we studied both interaction and product design. This helped us believe in our talents and keep pushing for our own path in the creative field. We are incredibly honoured and lucky to be given such responsibility and autonomy at the Willem de Kooning. Good design education is crucial, but designing a good programme isn’t so straight forward. We are trying foster a hands-on programme, based in open experimentation, transfer fundemental knowledge over electronics, at the same time developing a student’s conceptual skills and help them find and develop their own artistic signature. It’s a interesting challenge for us and our team, and it is quite demanding for our students. We feel most of all, that good design education should be set on firm principles but be flexible and open in how it is put in to practise, in order to be able to make the most emerging tools, methods, ideas and input from from those who partake in the programme.

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