Lamps turn on the magic of light

  • 2012-03-07
  • By Sam Logger

POWER OF LIGHT: Ieva Kaleja (SIA “Mammalampa”). Lamp “The bride,” 2010. DMDM collection.

RIGA - Every living thing rises towards the sun. It is the source of energy, the symbol of the whole and the most powerful heavenly body. Nature cannot live without sunlight. Yet, for more than a hundred years the world has been using alternative light in the form of the electric bulb. In 1880 the tireless and purposeful American inventor Thomas Alva Edison introduced a long-lasting electric light bulb to society, and that began not only a fantastic development in engineering, but also in the culture of consumers.

This culture has ensured that fashion attires the bulb in another invention, what is today named as the lamp. It is the central item of the exhibition “The Magic of Light,” which can be seen at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga till April 1.

“The lamp is perceived as a design object and a source of light together, which transforms our space of living creating an inimitable atmosphere,” says Inese Baranovska, one of the exhibition’s curators. Thus, visitors are introduced to the ways in which the lamp is included in the daily life and how its visual shape demonstrates the perception of the surrounding space, cultural differences and beauty standards. The exhibition covers the period from the 20th century till the present day, hence there is an opportunity to notice the changes in society in probably the most diverse and unpredictable century of the history of the planet.

So where is the magic of light found? Everywhere! It simply needs to be seen. The exhibition showcases products of industrial design, functional objects of daily use, artwork and objects of decorative art. Additionally, photos, paintings and textile products are presented to intensify the meaning of light. This is where “the particular kind of object selection aims to extend our paths of imaginations, allotting an extra dimension for our [...] understanding of semantics.” While the paintings, where the names Jazeps Grosvalds and Gederts Eliass stand out, supplement the exhibition, the lamp is what must really be evaluated and cannot be missed. As the 20th century has been full of surprises and cultural transformations, the visitor is guided through lamps of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Soviet and present time, all of them being completely different while implementing the same function. Accents are given by lamp design practitioners, such as the brand “Mammalampa” or design company “INSPIRA,” outlining new and original light solutions.

The headline of the exhibition is obviously the prototype of “L-1,” the lamp created by the Norwegian company “Luxo” back in 1937. Despite its estimable age it is still very popular today, becoming the symbol of a classic task lamp. Many may recognize it from the short films of “Pixar” as the Big lamp and the Small lamp. Meanwhile visitors are welcome to participate in the discussion “Talks about the light” on March 14 to explore even a deeper meaning of light and lamps.

In modern times people are used to lamps as they fulfill their main task to light up the darkness. The lamp is so self-evident an item in daily life that smost of us do not pay attention to it. The exhibition changes this perception because it turns out that the lamp is not only a practical, but aesthetic element as well. So what can we learn? The light likes to be evaluated, and maybe it can shine even more. Thus, appraise the colors, drawings and forms which embrace the electric bulbs in style. The lamp is actually one of the interior things which can avoid obeying the rules and switch on the imagination, proving that it is just as powerful as the light.

The sun is natural light. The lamp encloses an imitation of it. However, that does not make it less valuable. When design meets industrial development a place for imagination and taste appears. Through the decades it has shown it has something to say.