Rolf Sachs Has a Way with Glass

If the name "Rolf Sachs" isn't on your radar yet, it certainly should be. That's not only because the London-based designer recently teamed up with heavyweights Patricia Urquiola and Ron Gilad for an installation featuring "various levels of expanded metal," but also because he's got the most entertaining web site I've ever seen (with the possible exception of Javier Mariscal). While Urquiola showed her new matching wardrobe and desk, Gilad featured a nifty illusion that synthesized mirror and light into one.

Rubecula. Designed by Rolf Sachs.

Sachs, for his part, indulged in a similar kind of gamesmanship twixt reflectivity and luminescence. The enticing trio of,Rubecula Hand Me A Light, and Lighthouse all dramatize the play between projection and containment, between the impulse to shine brightly and the rather roguish inclination toward prestidigitation.

But before I stray too far from my first train of thought... there's Sachs' hilarious website, the homepage of which features a bizarre menagerie of objects--a cross-section of a dollhouse, a disembodied mannequin hand, a miniature automaton in a bottle--each of which performs when one hovers across it: the hand cricks a finger in a "come here" gesture, the dollhouse stick figures walk down the stairs, and the automaton executes a perfect squat jump that propels him up and out of his glassy prison. I mention this not just because it's all exquisitely entertaining, but because it reveals Sachs' pronounced affinity for whimsy, weirdness, and a miniaturized, clockworks kind of robotic animation--all qualities on display in his new, limited edition lights.

Rolf Sachs Has a Way with Glass

Rolf Sachs Has a Way with Glass

Rubecula. Designed by Rolf Sachs. [left image ©MoCo Loco]

First, there's Rubecula. A pint-size tableaux showing a Robin (yes, that's Robin as in bird), an apparent handful of incandescent bulbs, a mirrored glass dome, and a "natural twig," the ensemble creates an odd effect--the mirrored surface reflects the bulbs, thus making them appear to multiply one-hundred fold, while also seeming to project the bird outside of its ostensible cage. Hand Me A Light makes use of the same quartet of materials ("glass dome, felt, electrics, and walnut dimmer"), while adding a disembodied hand as centerpiece--the very same twitching hand, I gather, featured on his website. The touch gives the piece its captivating, endlessly reflective aesthetic, while also contributing the central irony of the name. The final piece, Lighthouse, is somewhat subdued compared to Rubecula and Hand Me A Light. A smaller version of the same mirrored glass dome is secured, via a pair of leather straps, to a hand-crafted, miniaturized wooden scaffold. The effect doesn't so much recall the powerful beacons storm-tossed sailors look for at sea, but rather suggests an interesting hybrid between carpentry and electronics, an uneasy alliance that--no matter how strange--seems to jibe perfectly with Sachs' curious aesthetic.

Via ArtSlope and MoCo Loco.

Posted April 26, 2010 by Joseph Starr

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