At Salone: Those Eyes Look Familiar

Are you extra-sensitive to the slightest discomfiting noise? Do you often feel as if there are unseen forces in your house? Do you occasionally find yourself convinced you’re being watched? It could be that there are demons within the door frame, wraiths amid the wainscotting, phantoms in the foyer... Or, it might just be the ultra-realistic eyeball lamps by 5.5 Designers sitting on the side table behind you.

Eyeball lamps. Designed by 5.5 Designers. Image courtesy of DesignBoom.

Part of their customized “Cloning Collection”—which also features a pillow with your weight, a coat rack with the same proportions as your skeleton, a chair with your sitting posture, and a coffee cup handle with your fingerprint—the eyeball lamps are modeled after your eyes (or those of any man, woman, or beast so willing, one would presume).

The detail on these pieces is astounding. The 5.5 team has integrated amazingly subtle striated textures and color variation with a glassy encasing in a way that duplicates the intricacies of the human eye. The lamps have a textural appeal that much hyper-real art/design often lacks: the eye lamps look aqueous; they appear to have the same multi-dimensionality and complexities of an actual eyeball.

Of course, the hyper-reality is counterpoised with a sense of disembodiment—if these are eyes they are eyes taken terribly out of context. As with disembodiment of any sort, the lamps thus have a freakish quality that is the source of their appeal as well as a comment on our compulsion to duplicate or attempt to perfect ourselves in ways that reject the natural. As the title, “cloning” suggests, the eyeball lamps are playing with the problematic notion of auto-reproduction. Certainly, the narcissistic impulse pervades the design world (as it does much of the new millenium’s developed West) and 5.5 Designers both acknowledge this and affirm it has a certain aesthetic appeal, while simultaneously pointing out that the watcher may become the watchee, the creator the created.

These ghoulish yet enticing lamps open up dialogue around these issues, while looking ultra-cool in the bargain. There’s nothing like having your cake (or your prosthetic chin, or silicone breasts, or colored contacts) and poking fun at it too.

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