Talking Design: with Marc Venot

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By Normann Copenhagen / Published by Normann Copenhagen
It is our pleasure to announce that the Acrobat lamp, designed by Marc Venot, has been selected as a winner of the German Design Award 2017 in the category ‘lighting’. Find out more about the magnetic magic of the Acrobat lamp and meet its innovator, the French designer Marc Venot.

The German Design Award is a highly respected international design prize that discovers, presents and acknowledges unique design talents. We are happy and proud for the acknowledgement of the Acrobat lamp as one of 18 winners in the category "lighting". 

We met Marc is his beautiful studio in Paris to congratulate him on the award and talk more in depth about his design for Normann Copenhagen. Watch the interview from Paris. 


Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 1 of 7 - The Acrobat lamp, winner of the German Design Award 2017.

The Acrobat lamp, winner of the German Design Award 2017.

THE WINNING DESIGN 

The Acrobat is an oblong shaped table lamp with a playful, friendly and futuristic feel. The French designer Marc Venot has created an innovative lamp where the light source can be placed in nearly any vertical and horizontal position. 

Its transparent front has a matt finish enabling Acrobat to spread a soft, diffused light. The minimalistic and intelligent design allows you to use the it both as a direct and indirect form of lighting, and makes it ideal for creating a calm and cosy atmosphere in the room, while working or reading.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 2 of 7 - The Acrobat can take almost any imaginable position.

The Acrobat can take almost any imaginable position.

The Acrobat lamp consists of two parts: a very stable cone-shaped base and an oblong LED light source that is placed on the cone, and held together by a magnet only. This allows you to play with the Acrobat and let it to take on almost magical positions that can be surprising and challenge the traditional idea of an adjustable lamp. 

MEET THE DESIGNER MARC VENOT

The designer of the Acrobat lamp is Marc Venot. The French industrial designer is fascinated by magical and unexpected designs. Earlier in his career, Marc Venot earned a university degree in physics but decided to change direction. In 2004 he took a degree in Industrial Design, and now manages to combine the potential of both fields in his designs. As a designer, Marc Venot values a simple and minimalist look that surprises the user by its functionality. 

It’s a nice studio you have, Marc! 

I share a working space in the 20th arrondissement in Paris. We are in a place called Belleville, which is a cosmopolitan and lively place in Paris with a lot of energy. We are six independents and creative guys in this place. For me it's very important to share and discuss ideas with other great people around and we also play a lot of ping-pong. 

Tell us about the Acrobat. 

An acrobat is someone who can do extraordinary things without losing their balance. It looks like he's going to fall over at any given moment, but he doesn't. He toys with gravity itself, leaving the observer fascinated and surprised. This is the kind of effect I wanted to create with this lamp. My greatest hope is that the user will experience the same fascination, and feel like touching and understanding the lamp. 

What was your inspiration? 

I was looking for a way to achieve a multi directional table lamp without any mechanical connection. I wanted to find a magic gesture, intelligent and without limits. A single light source delicately placed on a soft pedestal. 

Since I was little, I've always been fascinated by magnets and the magic they can generate, defying the laws of our natural perception. With the new generation of the so-called Neodynium magnets, the force of attraction, which the lamp relies on, is much stronger. The idea of this lamp came to me when I was playing with this type of very strong magnets.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 3 of 7 - Early sketches of Marc Venot’s Acrobat lamp. 

Early sketches of Marc Venot’s Acrobat lamp. 

What was the biggest challenge in finding the right design for the lamp?

To develop the initial concept I carried out a long series of manual tests. I had to find the right geometry, study how to adjust the force of the two magnets so that they would interact effectively together to allow the lamp to easily slide on its base and, obviously, find the correct LED source. It was a quite long process, but I never doubted about its feasibility. Once these stages had been defined, I built a prototype with 3D printing part and correct magnets and proposed it to Normann Copenhagen.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 4 of 7 - Experimenting how to balance the force of the magnet with the shape of the lamp. 

Experimenting how to balance the force of the magnet with the shape of the lamp. 

Can you explain the key design features of the lamp? 

In a way, the design of this lamp is imposed by itself. Its long shape is the path of the magnetic ball inside the white diffuser which defined this particular drawing. In the end, it is a light box that contains a magic ball.With this particular form, the lighting part may take all possible directions, from the perfect verticality to the perfect horizontality. I love when an object is designed by its particular use and gesture. Often it gives a product a specific design that has never been seen before.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 5 of 7 - The Acrobat is a perfect desk lamp due to the natural light it produces.

The Acrobat is a perfect desk lamp due to the natural light it produces.

What does it mean for you to win the German Design Award for your design? 

It's always a pleasure when a jury of design experts decides to reward a product that you have drawn. I am very touched that the jury was receptive to the design of this lamp and I hope they have a lot of fun to play with. It's a product that you need touch in real to understand it's potential. 

What is your favorite position of the Acrobat lamp? 

It really depends on where and why you use it. In the bedroom for example, it's very smart to put it perfectly straight close from a wall, which creates a very soft and comfortable light to read. On my desk, I love to use in its horizontal position, to have a close look when I am deciding on materials or a color for a project. The light is very clean and you don't have any direct light in your eyes.

What fascinates you about lighting? 

I love drawing lamps! Play with light gives me real pleasure. Light is really a fantastic material to work with because you do not design the light directly, but the object that will allow you to produce the light. Gestures around the created light is really interesting to think about and imagine. 

The maturity of LED technology represents a true turning point in the history of lighting design: light has never consumed so little energy nor generated so little heat. Today light can be very close to the human body without any risk. It is an immense opportunity for designers to be able to rethink light with these new elements. LED helps me design more intelligent, interactive, useful and simple products and it satisfies my desire for a user-friendly, understandable and empathic design. 

Who is your favorite designer? 

I have a lot of design heros like Joseph Hoffmann, Eileen Gray, Jean Prouvé, Dieter Rams, Gino Sarfatti, Ray and Charles Eames, Hans Wegner, Nana Ditzel, Alvar Aalto and James Irvine. But definitely, my favorite designer is Achille Castiglioni! My little boy's name is Achille.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 6 of 7 - Achille Venot has his own idea of what his father’s lamp design resembles.

Achille Venot has his own idea of what his father’s lamp design resembles.

What is your favorite design piece that you use in your daily life? 

For more than 10 years I have had the famous wall lamp 265 from FLOS in my living room, which was designed by Paolo Rizzatto in 1973. It's a fantastic lamp. It's a wonder every time I use it. 

Where is your favorite place to be creative? 

I have an old little bike from 1974 that I fully renovated (a Honda CL125S1), I go to work with it every morning through the streets of Paris. And often, some good ideas come up to my mind during this everyday pleasure trip.

Talking Design: with Marc Venot - Photo 7 of 7 - Marc Venot together with his son on his Honda from 1974.

Marc Venot together with his son on his Honda from 1974.

The German Design Award is given for outstanding product design that really breaks new ground in the international design landscape. Only designs nominated by the council are taken into consideration for the award, after which a jury of international experts from various fields within the world of design then chooses the winners. 

After receiving the German Design Award for our Tap stool, Form chair and Era lounge chair, and Geo collection we are thrilled to be recognized by the German Design Council once again for Marc Venot’s balancing act with his design for the Acrobat lamp!

The award ceremony for all winners of the German Design Awared 2017 will take place during the Ambiente International furniture fair in Frankfurt in February 2017.