U.K. Designer Michael Sillitoe would seem to be a man after my own heart, for he and I appear to share an affection for the natural elegance of the roughed-out form, the practical solution. It might very well be me speaking when he rhapsodizes about his recent six-meter long bespoke Neon Conduit Lighting Installation for a private residence.
Neon Conduit. Designed by Michael Sillitoe.
The scheme--an ostensibly casual application that slithers and snakes along walls, floors, and corners as if it were an iridescent serpent--was inspired by a "lighting incident" in the course of Sillitoe's travels: "I once saw an awkward shaped building having a power issue in Tokyo. Nestled between many others, its signs turned on and off every few minutes. When off, the store vanished, but the unique shape of it became even more dominant as the lights on the surrounding buildings seemed to divert to avoid its boundaries and highlight the forms."
Sillitoe's anecdote of how accident can reveal beauty previously hidden in "mundane" forms puts me in mind of all the abandoned factories and skeletal storefronts I just saw in my recently-concluded six-month tour across the Northeast and the South, a poetics of detritus in brick and foggy glass that only needs the right pair of eyes to behold its splendor. For Sillitoe, the goal of this particular installation was to highlight the room's existing geometry, thus calling attention to the bare architectural elements by using the simplest of materials--pure white neon in modest glass tubes (diameters from 20 to 30 mm) mounted with common metal brackets to take on the look of copper piping. The result is an intriguing "exposure" (if you'll pardon the photographic pun) of a simple space's hidden nooks and crannies. As Sillitoe says, "I was interested in marrying the three-dimensional detailing--usually harnessed for the purely pragmatic reason of making a circuit in neon--to an architectural yet intimate scale... I often find the pragmatic the most beautiful."