MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES: LET THERE BE LIGHT

People

M­ichael Anastassiades is one of the most renowned lighting designers in the world. Collaborating worldwide with some of the most successful companies, he’s a true trendsetter who’s always experimenting.

The difficult start

“The biggest decision I ever made was to start my own company in 2007. This was a very conscious move. Up to that point, I was experimenting a lot– trying to discover what design meant to me. I wanted to get involved in the industrial side of producing my own items, which was the reason I started my company. I wanted to do it my way for two reasons– first, because I did not want to compromise my own ideas, and second, because big design companies were unwilling to take a risk on collaborating with someone who basically had no design portfolio. Every attempt I had made to work with some of the local companies was met with closed doors. No one was interested in working with someone who wasn’t established in the field. Even though things are much improved today, the situation back then was very difficult. Therefore, I got to the point where the only way to move forward was to start my own company and do it myself.”

The first presentation at my home in London

“The first presentation took place at my home, in London, in September 2006. I emptied the house, set up some lighting fixtures, and had my presentation there during Design Week. It was basically my brand’s first experimental presentation. Truth be told, I had some very positive reactions. Articles appeared in the media, and I also made some important contacts– among them, Murray Moss from New York, who bought items and presented them there in May 2007.”

The road to great collaborations

“After my first presentation, I began looking into the production and delivery of these items. I also started collaborating with the architectural firm, Studio Mumbai, as well as designer Ilse Crawford, who at the time was creating the interior of Soho House, in NYC. Following that, my first major presentation took place in Milan at the Salone del Mobile in 2011. It was there that I decided to participate independently for the first time. I was also presenting my collaboration with the Nilufar Gallery at the Palazzo Durini. From there, a new cycle began. I met the then CEO of Flos, Piero Gandini, for the first time. Soon after, in September 2011, we decided to collaborate. This partnership has been running in tandem with my own brand ever since. Every Flos collection includes some of my own designs. Aside from lighting, a number of collaborations followed with major design houses such as Herman Miller, B&B, Cassina, Thonet, and more recently, Molteni.”

 

The most demanding project

“Up to a few years ago, my sole focus was almost exclusively on lighting, which branded me as a ‘lighting designer’. It’s not something that bothers me. I still have a lot to explore in lighting. As far as projects outside of lighting, an interesting collaboration was with Bang & Olufsen, which resulted in a very unique speaker design. However, I don’t want to single out anything. I would say that each project is demanding and challenging in its own right.”

 

My relationship with Cyprus

“I was born and raised in Cyprus. These were important years. They shaped the way I saw the world and everything around me. At the time, the concept of design was virtually non-existent in Cyprus. I was drawing all my references from the field of art. Nowadays, I visit Cyprus 3 to 4 times a year. That’s where my family is; it’s my home. Unfortunately, I never have enough time. I can only stay a few days at a time due to my workload, and I spend most of it with my own family and friends. My first presentation in Cyprus took place in January 2015, followed by another in 2019 at the Nicosia Arts Centre. The latter featured a selection of my work from the past 10 years. Nevertheless, I see a much more extroverted Cyprus these days.”

 

For the new generation of designers

“For the past decade, I’ve been working with Central Saint Martins, as well as with students of industrial design. I’ve come to the conclusion that the new generation isn’t ready to be tested. It seems that everyone is looking for quick and easy success, and that’s a problem. They’re infatuated by the idea of achieving all of their goals and gaining fame after their first or second showing. However, it rarely happens this way. It takes years to gain recognition. At the end of the day, you always come to realize that the journey towards what you want to achieve is the most important thing. I’ve experienced this in my own career as well. It took me years to gain recognition.”

 

For the next plans

This September, I’m presenting a series of bamboo lamps at the ICA in Milan. This is something very new for me– a material I’ve never used before in my designs. I came up with the idea during lockdown, and used that time to develop it. My aim was to produce everything by hand, without industrial intervention. By September, we will see the results…”

 

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