Career Story | Jamie Zigelbaum, Lighting Industrial Design

Profile-Interview-Jamie Zigelbaum-at-DesignMiamiBasel-ArchiLoci

Jamie Zigelbaum won the 2010 W Hotels Design Miami, USA and now his Triangular Series is making its debut appearance at Design Miami/ Basel, Switzerland.

Taking six days to install, the 59 truncated tetrahedral structures now hang from the Herzog & de Meuron designed event hall like translucent stalactites that pulsate warm lights according to your heartbeat.

The silent life like forms can register passing bodies through entrainment and synchronise with the “invisible energies” of visitors. Like an extra dimensional experience, we are prompted to question the seen and the unseen with room for new boundaries.

Tell us a bit about your project?

It’s a lighting installation of light technology and old materials and is a dialogue between the piece and people, and space. Each light is a being, or part of a larger being but they behave in a life-like way. They are constructed from the same patterns that construct us, but they look very alien.

Which came first, the commission or the idea?

The idea. I have been working on the concepts of this piece for about three years in various forms. Playing with entrainment and metronomes – connective invisible tissue of energy that connects and matches us to on another – and the possibilities. For example, as we are speaking right now we are entraining, the frequencies in our bodies are matching each other.

Then the New York Times did an article on it, and the Design Miami Basel commissioned us, so since then it’s been a core team of four people for six months.

And the inspiration?

One question I am asking is what is the communication between very non-life-like things and humans? I feel there is quite a bit to understand as the world is this rich place that we segment away into tiny enclosed worlds, shutting off so much possibility. So when you open your thinking to other things there’s a lot to learn.

So you hope to enter a void?

Yes, I hope to. What I find fascinating about entrainment, and it’s mathematical relationships, is that we see the same structures, which we generally shut out from our understanding in both life and non-life forms.

Profile-Interview-Jamie Zigelbaum-at-DesignMiamiBasel-ArchiLoci

 Is it for sale?

It’s a prototype, so it’s not really positioned for sale, but I’d love for it to find a home somewhere.

 You started with a BSc in Human Computer Interaction, how did you move into design?

My plan for life has always been to do what is most interesting. So when I started out I was an undergrad in film and was also a neuro-science major, but at the time I didn’t want to do school. Instead, I learnt carpentry and lived in a Tibetan monastery, and then over time design became one of those core values to me.

And how did that happen?

Well, I think I have always made things, and when I look retrospectively, it seems the real core is communications. So, when it was neuro-science it was about consciousness, when it was film, it was about how to communicate emotion, when it was technology it was about communicating human interaction, and design is the same.

How has winning the 2010 W Hotels Design Miami/ award been for your career?

It was huge, and was so valuable for my career. At that time, I had just dropped out of the Ph.D. at MIT and was just at start-up stage, but winning award meant I could start studio right away and start doing the work I dreamed of.

What about the commercial side, how did you make it that work for you?

Well, we were fortunate in that winning the award and others, the commissions started. When we first designed the Six-Forty by Four-Eighty, we didn’t think about sales but were asked if we were selling it. So we wrote on a napkin a figure and ended up selling four editions that day, and it funded the studio for the next two years.

It’s an alternative approach, but I’ve never been motivated by just commercial. However, it is an important part of everything we do, and I do pay a lot of attention to the financial side of all the things.

Any advice for someone looking to do something similar?

Look inward and try and figure out what you want as it’s a lot more difficult than it seems. We often blind ourselves to one thing or think we have desires for another. And, the more we understand ourselves, the more find what the real creative desires are. And when you find it just do it. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you are learning.

Jamie Zigelbaum

Main Picture: James Harris, Video – Courtesy Mercedes TV




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