One of the most interesting photographs I’ve ever seen was by an anonymous artist, displayed at a gallery I’ve forgotten, but the image remains clear in my mind: a weather-beaten rope—the pull-opener for an old style sliding door—against the dappled and fading red paint of a vertically-sided barn. The photo is pure Americana, though scenes much like it exist across the rural world, as it evokes the symbolism of this most useful tool of domestic life.
Designer Christian Haas would seem to share in this validation of the simple rope as a potent archetype. His “Ropes” lamps are not weather-beaten—to the contrary, they seem to live a privileged existence, as goes the life of a rope—but they embody all the textural and visual interest of this icon, and they’re illuminated to boot.
Ropes. Designed by Christain Haas.
Integrated LEDs Create Functional Sculpture
Perhaps “sculpture” isn’t the best term for Haas’ LED-infused and artfully-knotted ropes, but “lamps” just doesn’t quite do them justice. What’s certain is that they’re a new mode of lightpiece, a technological innovation that forecasts a whole new breed of usage for common objects. Handmade in France and Germany, Haas’ Ropes are “robust, weatherproof, water and dirt repellent… the light source inside the textile cord consists of warm-light LEDs with a durability of roundabout 50,000 hours (more than 17 years, if you leave them lit 8 hours per day).” That’s a long life span to be sure, even for an object as durable as a rope.
What’s more, each of Haas’ Ropes lamps is a custom piece. To date, the designer has authored 19 Ropes, each of which are hand-tied in a unique pattern with a distinctive aesthetic. Some suggest the neat efficiency of a hangman’s noose; while some seem almost skeletal—descending from on high like an elongated spine; and some have the practiced jouissance of a lovely tangle of flaxen tresses. But all of them are singularly interesting, as they and Haas forge a new synthesis between art, design, and technological function.