Having loved his work for several years, we were so excited to be invited to a breakfast with lighting icon, Michael Anastassiades as he launches his latest lamp, Extra, in the UK.
If you haven't heard of him, you will love him and if you have heard of him, you will love him even more because in person he is as warm and modest and inspiring as you could hope. His words are carefully chosen and effortlessly profound. He is kind and generous and let's us into his creative process to give an insight into the finely crafted work he creates time and again.
As he shows us around the stunning lighting showroom of Atrium, where his new Extra light is on show, we see a common thread throughout his work, a powerful simplicity of form. He tells us that "the circle is the most primal form there is and this is why we are drawn to it as humans" and clearly why it is a strong recurring theme in all his work. From his earlier work right through to his more accessible collaborations with Flos - IC, Copy cat, Captain Flint and Extra - the illuminated orb is a signature of his work.
And we are like moths to a flame! His forms are so compelling they are addictive. But they are not props and he would rather they weren't used as such for selfies! He is interested in creating timeless pieces that are built to last so for him the idea of his lights becoming set dressing for the selfie stick generation does not sit comfortably. Perhaps this is almost impossible to avoid since his lights are so incredibly photographable. But we have massive respect for a man who seeks to create objects with lasting power in this all too often throwaway world we live in.
His interplay of shapes has a playfulness that we just love and he happily invites this reading of his work. He even tells us that the first inspiration for the Captain Flint light was the idea of a parrot on a Pirate Captains shoulder, hence the name. Who would have thought that this painfully elegant light, now available in all black, could have such a playful beginning.
The way that the Extra light is made up of two incongruous shapes gently touching is also so pleasing in its simplicity and allows the person looking at it to give it their own meaning. This simplicity comes from a rigorous editing process, the lighting master tells us, and he now happily admits that he has developed a shorthand for this editing process as he has learned over many years to trust his instincts.
We left feeling so inspired by this man. His grasp of modern technology is amazing alone, regardless of the beauty of his forms. The way he is able to, seemingly effortlessly, combine the beauty in his objects with the hidden technical capabilities of his lights is incredible. The object in as much born out of the technical needs of the new lighting tech as it is born out his playful mind, such is his technical knowledge.
As we leave we are left with one powerful word. Tenacity. When Michael Anastassiades saw the opportunity for a collaboration with Lighting Giants, Flos, he did not take no for an answer. After various missed opportunities he ended up taking a taxi with Flos founder Piero Gambini, who didn't have time for their scheduled meeting in the end because of other work commitments. Michael saw his opportunity and seized it with both hands, pitching his drawings and ideas in the back of a cab on a brief journey. That ride led to one of the most successful collaborations in Flos history and certainly one of our favourites. He had vision and he did not let go until he got to where he needed to be and this story of tenacity is something that will keep us focussed and driven for a long time.
A true master and a lovely gent. What more could you ask for?