For Munich-based lighting designer Axel Meise, it’s all about the right lighting.
“Light is the essential element of perception. Without it I cannot truly absorb my surroundings. This is why the quality of the light is so important.”
How conspicuous should lamps be as objects? Should they harmonize with the room or act as a deliberate contrast? What level of quality should their light offer and what exactly should they illuminate? The handling of light and lighting is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to furnishing spaces. The Munich-based lighting designer Axel Meise is one of the few in the sector who can provide clear answers to these questions.
With its distinctive light fixtures, designed and developed in cooperation with physicist and partner Christoph Kügler, Meise’s “Occhio” (“eye” in Italian) brand is literally a beacon of light. Founded in 1999 by Meise, the company began with an idea that was as simple as it was revolutionary: to create a multifunctional lighting system that is consistent in design and form to suit all spatial requirements. Meise has remained true to himself to this day: “Occhio lights illustrate their consistent design language through perfect and adaptable lighting for every occasion”, says Axel Meise as he explains his philosophy. He sees light as the “essential element of perception. Without it I cannot truly absorb my surroundings.This is why the quality
of the light is so important.”
This conceptual background with its cleverly conceived coherence is what makes Occhio stand out from many other lamps. The idea revolves around a modular head-body principle, the recurring functional theme of all Occhio lamps: various rotating reflector heads create specific lighting effects and can be replaced by means of a simple coupling mechanism.
Customers are convinced. Two-thirds of them want to have their residential areas adorned with Occhio lights. Others want to create the perfect lighting with Occhio for stores and hotels, restaurants and libraries, showrooms (including Gaggenau), and even sacred buildings such as the Hassan Tanık- Mosque in Ankara.
Whether in the planning department or in the Cologne or Munich showrooms: Occhio offers not only solutions for complex designs, but also visionary advancements in technology and design. The quality, according to the Managing Director, is not limited to the subtle yet elegant design, it is also reflected in the internal components of every light.
The ubiquitous crystal lens, the visual trademark of Occhio, reflects the light perfectly thanks to its glare-free concept combined with bundling and scattering effects. What is more complicated is what lies behind. While the halogen version requires relatively simple technology and in some cases dimming controls, modern LED technology requires more complex electronics and offers a significantly greater range of functions in return.
The IZB Residence Campus at Home in Martinsried near Munich is the first hotel to be fully fitted with Occhio lights.
The more recent Occhio models hide powerful modules in their bodies that deliver new levels of comfort and convenience. Not only can the precision lights with their clean design be rotated, turned and even connected in all directions, they even respond to hand signals, transforming Axel Meise into a magician as he activates and controls them through gestures rather than contact. As if by magic, the intensity of the light changes as the beam’s direction moves upward.
“Joy of light” is the expression Meise uses to describe this diversity and the pleasure to be gained from exploiting the possibilities of the lights. This is because the hand signals will continue to deliver the joy of discovery for a long time to come, thanks to the possibility of saving individual settings once they have been discovered. There is an entire range of filters and lenses that can be used to further modify Occhio luminaires for any taste and occasion.
The crystal lens offers the perfect means of reflecting the light thanks to its glare-free concept combined with bundling and scattering effects.
The development of the LED is therefore a milestone for Axel Meise that marks only the beginning of a continuous innovation process for the future. The quality of LED technology is improving at a record pace, with its dubious reputation as “cold” and “soulless” a thing of the past. Flaws such as the fragmented bandwidth in the light spectrum and the poor color rendering of LEDs have been almost fully resolved, and the performance is also no longer noticeably inferior to halogen lights.
Unlike the interim technology of compact fluorescent light bulbs, which was imposed for political reasons, LED technology has arrived and is here to stay. It will enable effects and functions in the future whose range of application is almost impossible to predict at present. “Even if daylight and artificial light can no longer be distinguished in years to come, when wall coverings illuminate a room or luminous window panes turn night into day, the local light source and its functions will never fade”, predicts Meise.
The future of his company with 80 employees in Germany and at the production facility in China seems as bright as the typically warm Occhio light. Onwards and upwards, this is something Axel Meise is discovering not only as he encounters more and more of his lamps all over the world, but also closer to home: “When new neighbors recently moved in and already brought their Occhio lamps with them, it really was a great feeling.”
Text: Wolf-Christian Fink
Photos: Elias Hassos (Portrait), Occhio (Interior/Products)
Occhio lamps, such as the dual series “lui” and “lei”, feature hidden modules for enhanced comfort and convenience – they even respond to hand signals.