Less is more. London-based Cypriot Michael Anastassiades (born 1967) prefers a totally minimalist design. And he likes to work with wood, stone and metals. "These are honest materials that also age honestly."
With its wooden frame, thin copper foil membrane and sepia-coloured surface, the "Copper Mirror" from 2006 reflects the rigorous purism of the designer: minimalist, beautiful and effective.
Michael Anastassiades studied civil engineering and industrial design and has been producing under his own label since 1994. He came to prominence especially for his lights, which are also on display in the permanent collection of London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the MoMA in New York.
The limited "Kinetic Light" series from 2009 is a good example of why his lamps are often described as crossovers between industrial design and sculpture. These delicate mobile chandeliers are a structure of black patinated copper pipes, hand-blown glass, three motors and counter-balancing weights. All elements are constantly in motion to vary the incidence of light. Their simplicity is deceptive however. Some of the "Kinetic Lights" comprise no less than 76 components. "What may seem almost gimmicky is often the most complicated", says Anastassiades.
When it came to the turn of Cyprus in 2012 to take over the Presidency of the European Council in Brussels, Michael Anastassiades designed wooden chairs upholstered in calf leather for the conference room. The chairs were produced by craftspeople from Cyprus.
This small halogen light ("Tip of the Tongue", 2013) made from hand-blown opal glass demonstrates surprising vitality. No wonder if it were to tip over the edge of its cylindrically shaped base made of polished copper. For Michael Anastassiades this design also has a timeless quality. "My ideas don't follow fashion trends", he says. "I firmly believe in durable products and materials with a timeless identity."
Small family businesses play an important role in his work by producing his designs. He has sourced glass blowers in the Czech Republic, metal workers in India and stonecutters in Italy. How are they chosen? "What is important is an appreciation for the materials and their use. Capacities of course also play a role. It is always a good experience to see how inspiring mutual esteem can be."
Made from gold-plated stainless steel, Anastassiades created an illuminant with the "Tube Chandelier" (2006), which always looks well, even when it is not lighting. "Only then is a lamp perfect, allowing an intimate relationship to be created with the owner."
The weightless ceiling fitting "Light and Shade" from 2012 made from laminated material, which Michael Anastassiades designed for the Atrium of the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels, is reminiscent of the curved bottom of a boat.
When light is not light. Although 25 kilos in weight and 80 centimetres in diameter, the solid marble sculpture "Miracle Chip" from 2013 conveys a delicate impression. Using sophisticated technology, experts stretched a block from the quarry of Monte Altissimo to its extremes. Michael Anastassiades once again succeeded with the help of these experts in demonstrating how traditional craftsmanship and new ideas can combine to create striking results.
Solid craftsmanship, which is shown to full effect in the final product, gives his minimalist designs a tremendous sense of quality and sustainability, far removed from any trendy superficiality.
Text: Josephine Grever