Michael Anastassiades studied industrial design and engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. The Cypriot-born designer’s lighting, mirrors and tabletop objects reside between industrial design, sculpture and decorative art. They are featured in the permanent collections of MoMa and the V&A Museum, as well as world-renowned galleries and arts organisations. Since collaborating with architectural firm Studio Mumbai in 2006, he has worked with David Chipperfield, John Pawson and interior designers such as Studio Ilse. Michael set up a company under his own name in 2007 to produce unlimited editions of his designs. Each is handmade and stamped with the designer’s mark, manufactured in accordance with the purity of his original vision.
Michael will join ELLE Decoration editor-in-chief Michelle Ogundehin on Wednesday 20 March at 11.30am to discuss the importance of creating objects of permanent value.
What does permanent value mean to you?
For an object to have longevity there must be a dedication to beautiful materials and skilled processes; quality is something that is timeless. Equally important, though, is that the object must have its own design language. I’m not comfortable with trying to label design or put it in neat categories. I love ambiguity. Rather than talk about Minimalism, for instance, I prefer to think of ‘subtraction’, as in, deleting excess, exposing the essence of an object and creating purity of design. Simplicity is also timeless. An object stripped to its bare essentials is the ultimate expression of beauty.
Where does your passion for this approach come from?
I grew up on an island and my family wasn’t particularly creative (I’m the first to follow this route). But those two elements made me hungry for inspiration – there’s something about constraint that tends to result in creativity. From a young age, I was fascinated by the idea of making things to be held; I think that’s inside all of us. I remember being introduced to a friend of my father when I was a teenager, he was a Cypriot architect who had worked with Gio Ponti – suddenly my eyes were opened.
What is your favourite example of timeless design?
I don’t tend to talk about individual pieces. I don’t like the idea of idols or models, it’s more someone’s unique approach or particular process I admire. I find Ettore Sottsass very inspiring, so unique, and the Eames for revolutionising production.
Your pieces feel so sculptural, how do you think the worlds of art and design connect?
I call myself a designer because that’s my trade, but, again, I don’t like labels. A creative person is a creative person, and creativity is about having the freedom to exist exactly as you want to be. Imposing systems complicates the process. An architect I admire, Allan Wexler, creates functional objects, yes, but in such a poetic, artistic way you couldn’t begin to separate the disciplines. And why would you want to?
Why are you drawn to lighting design in particular?
As a medium, it’s so poetic. It’s a starting point, and a very powerful one. It’s an exciting challenge because lighting has to work in two opposing states – on and off – and will dramatically change a room in either form. I love the possibility that comes from shadow and light.
What one invention would transform your life?
Ah, I could give you a book’s worth! The pressure to choose one is too much.
When in London…
Visit Sir John Soane’s Museum and the V&A. When I arrived in London and was studying engineering, the V&A was my escape from that world. I would go and spend hours sketching. It has remained important to me ever since and my experience of it is different every time.
When there are no restrictions and the creative process is free.
‘Conversations in Design’ ticket information: £15
Booking hotline: 020 7352 1900 www.dcch.co.uk