Emotions between design and art: “Kugelleuchte” by Tamara Geneva Rutishauser

Today we officially begin our new design stories season. The second half of the year starts with an article about Tamara Geneva Rutishauser and her first design project “Kugelleuchte (German for “Spherical art”) that – as you are going to read – is the result of a childhood full of wonder and creativity.

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When Tamara was just a child she used to go hunting for small shiny glass fragments or little pebbles, using them to create handmade objects, which were then proudly shown to her mother. This personal memory of her childhood is crucial to understand why Tamara has a passion for glass and its reflections: her creations are lamps made by sparkling materials such as mosaic tiles “spherically” combined with plaster.

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Tamara realized her first prototype during her last year of high school. She designed it all by herself working in a room provided by supportive friends who assisted her. One of them still owns her first lamp. It is hard to say what gave her the idea. Different experiences flow together in the lamps’ shape: from easter eggs to holed floorballs, from the inspiring glassmakers of Murano to mosaic covered sculptures. Tamara wanted to create something round-shaped with a pleasant-looking surface that was able to keep a sparkling secret. Indeed Tamara decided to use glass mosaic tiles glued together to cover lamps’ inner surfaces. A light bulb just in the middle of the lamp is the final touch that spreads cold or warm light depending on the tiles colours. Creating a small lamp (30 cm diameter and 3.5 Kg weight) requires about 35 hours whereas creating a bigger one (50 cm diameter and 5.5 Kg weight) requires 60 hours. Currently she is working only on demand…quality first! You can contact Tamara by email about pricing.

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You have to know that Tamara really loves to play with contrasting materials: all her lamps are indeed a mix of raw and well-refined materials. Currently she is also experimenting something new using pigments that are able to color plaster. These experiments allow her to play again with contrasts, creating dark outer surfaces and shining inner ones. This will be the major trend of Tamara’s new lamps next year. All materials used come from Swiss companies and are brand new. Currently she is not working with recycled materials but she is open to other possibilities and, maybe one day or another, she will be able to use Murano recycled glass tiles.

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In spite of current trends, Tamara does not design using special softwares or computer. Her creative process is extremely “hands-on”: everything flows from her mind and takes shape during the creative process itself. Tamara is in every phase of it, from the concept to the final product, producing all objects by herself.  Tamara Geneva lamps are unusual products in Swiss design scene. Commonly Swiss designers are focused on very functional and plain objects at the expense of their decorative role. Tamara’s lamps are instead a sort of “in-between objects”, halfway between art and design. Nevertheless, their shapes reveal some first signs of change in the Swiss design and architecture panorama. As Tamara said during our interview, in the field of architecture, for example, we are seeing some changes to appearances in new buildings. Architects are starting to be more open to contemporary and sinuous shapes: just think about the wooden roof of the new Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park of Zuerich zoo.

Unfortunately time goes by so fast and we have to say “ciao” to Tamara. But we are sure that we will receive good news about Tamara’s new projects soon. We would love your comments and thoughts about the article and Tamara’s works.

Photo credits: Annatina Feuerstein, Kritsada Chumtong and Tamara Geneva Rutishauser.

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