The Thai Design Company That Makes Lighting Design Out Of Nature’s Designs

Ango are the Thai design company blazing a soft, diffuse trail in the use of naturally sourced “found” materials in innovative lighting installations. With building blocks ranging from silk cocoons to bark of the mulberry tree, each piece is rendered unique by the idiosyncratic structures of the naturally sourced materials, resulting in range of products that are emphatically, delicately, special.

The Thai company featured in this year’s Designjunction, showcasing among other designs a number of silk-cocoon pieces; see here a time-lapse record of the production of ‘The Paradise’, a hanging lamp around which a nest of silk cocoons are fixed in a unique network, cascading outwards in an ethereal halo. It is perhaps fitting that a design in which human product meets natural produce, a design which showcases rather than erases natural design, should be almost ecclesiastically celebratory in nature. The interplay between natural resources and the design process is at the centre of Ango’s practice, resulting in unique pieces with both a quiet deference to the natural, and a knowing nod to the aesthetic facet of lighting design.

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We speak to Ango about their ethos, about their ideas, and about the process that yields their celebrated “electro-light fantasies”, following their appearance at Designjunction 2016.

The Plus: Why did you decide to create a time-lapse video?
Ango:
We thought it the best medium to express the complexity and intensiveness in depth of one of the production techniques that we’ve innovated ourselves – each piece really a limited edition.

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TP: What materials are used to create the light? Talk us through Ango World’s attitude toward natural materials?
A:
The magic of lighting design and its intersection with new materials development and innovative production processes is at the centre of what Ango is doing.
That’s right, our way of working is quite materials-based, with many experiments being carried out before we fix on a design using a particular light diffuser material, but it’s essential that a balance between concept, form and the technique/materials is being put into play.
Sometimes we’re using natural materials such as mulberry tree bark or rattan, sometimes materials we’ve developed ourselves such as the gold / nickel plated filigree light diffuser Firmament.
In Paradise, our artisans build up a hand welded steel structure (each with approximately 2100 different joints) over a core base, and this creates the underlying form of the design. Then around 2600 individual silk cocoons (each one unique and each carefully selected from the larger batch) are attached to the base structure in a random composition.
Each cocoon has an aura of ultra-fine transparent silk fibre around it which subtly refracts and diffuses the light from the two sources in the core of the piece, as a paradise.

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TP: Why is lighting design so popular?
A:
I think it’s the very special way light can work with a space. When we started 10 years ago, it’s true that lighting design was not considered nearly as much as it is now in architecture and interior design, and was often rather overlooked or considered as an add- on towards the end of the project.
In contrast, the current generation of architects and interior designers are far more aware of what good lighting can bring to their projects, and there is also of course a much broader range of lighting options that can be employed, especially with the explosion of new lighting technology over the last 5 years.

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TP: Where do function and beauty meet when it comes to light?
A:
The lighting of a space is very powerful, and function and beauty do directly converge. But within lighting there’s clearly quite a broad spectrum ranging from highly specific task lighting through to pieces that are really light sculpture and may not even have much light output at all.
I think there’s clearly beauty inherent in all of these, especially as there is so much magic bound up in electro light and the effect it’s had on our civilisation.

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TP: Tell us about Ango…
A:
The energy, purity and truthfulness of light is our starting point, and from the outset, the combination of fresh forms with innovative use of materials has marked out Ango designs. Starting around 10 years ago, everything is centred in our headquarters in Bangkok. Including design, design developments and fabrication, the total size of our team is around 25.

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TP: Tell us about the creative process for the Paradise light featured in the video?
A:
The design continues Ango’s narrative of fusing nature and technology, and the diffuser is an elongated ovaloid, where each strand or group of cocoons cascades out from the core. Slightly earlier than the Paradise design we had innovated Chrysalis Sky, an award-winning floor light with a circular silk cocoon diffuser and the Paradise design very much spun out of this as a sister piece; in many instances the two designs have been used together in the same space.

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TP: What is the relationship between nature and technology?
A:
Ango stands for a world view of how enlightened environmentally responsible 21st century design can be, with each individual design a part of this vision, while the low impact/low energy intensive process of how our designs are fabricated is closely interconnected with design development.

TP: How would you sum up the Paradise light in 3 words?
A:
Intriguing, subtle, arcadian.

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