The illuminated designer - creator of the DesignerBox #40
While studying interior design at the prestigious La Cambre school in Brussels, Nathalie Dewez chose to specialise in lighting. Her lighting designs have earned her the opportunity to collaborate with brands as prestigious as Ligne Roset, Established and Son and even Hermès: spotlight on the brilliant career path of this young Belgian, honoured in 2011 by the Courtrai Biennale as “Designer of the Year”.
As her studies show, Nathalie Dewez draws not only on a lively interest in the object but in the space surrounding it, for her specialism has given her a simultaneous grasp of both subjects: “the lamp is the object most directly linked to the space through the light it creates and has a direct impact on the place it is in. Even though since I started I haven’t done a great deal of interior design, but more product design, I am very pleased that I didn’t study industrial design in the strict sense.”Nathalie Dewez has had the opportunity many times since to explore this grasp of the space through light, working on bespoke lighting projects for specific places.
In 2011, she demonstrated this by designing a huge lighting structure for the MUDAM modern art museum in Luxembourg. Beneath the giant glass roof of the entrance to the museum designed by the architect Leoh Ming Pei, who was also responsible for the much acclaimed Louvre pyramid, the challenge taken up by the designer was to devise a ceiling light whose weight could be supported by the glass roof but would be sufficiently large to occupy the space. So for the fifth anniversary of the museum Nathalie Dewez unveiled a monumental, yet amazingly light, mobile thanks to the inflatable light fittings of which it is composed. “Moreover, the structure is adaptable: its height can be adjusted and the light source moved off centre to suit the different exhibitions.“This widely praised commission exemplifies the designer’s favourite themes and her very special expertise quite well:
« What often characterises my light fittings are notions of movement and balance, in that they bring tension to an object that I find interesting.»
An unreserved fan of Calder, whose influence is found in overhead projects like Still Light, Nathalie Dewez is equally ready to cite Dan Flavin or Ellworth Kelly as one of her references: “My Ellipse ceiling lights were also conceived in tribute to his work. I love anything sculptural, and the clear colours that mark the space.” The granddaughter of an artist, obsessed with contemporary art, the designer readily cites a childhood memory as a eureka moment for her present career: “When I was ten my grandmother, who did not go out to work but supported my grandfather who was a painter and sculptor, gave me a ceramic insulator of the kind you find on electricity poles, saying to me ‘look how beautiful it is’. I am convinced that learning to see the beauty in the most everyday things left its mark on me.” She has undoubtedly retained this desire to highlight commonplace materials or objects, like the car headlights whose typical gridded appearance inspired her Car Light table lamps for Ligne Roset.
Very recently, Nathalie Dewez has focused on clearly more iconic pieces: “Petit H, Hermès’ parallel range, asked me to search the archives of the Cristallerie Saint Louis glassworks to design a series of ceiling lights and floor lamps based on products that the Cristallerie could no longer use. The collection will be on show at the end of November at the Rue de Sèvres store in Paris. In addition to this flagship project and her work for Designerbox, the successful designer will truly be in the limelight in the autumn since she is preparing for the october launch of her eponymous brand of exclusively Belgian made lights that will pick up a series of existing products and unveil some new pieces.
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