Andre Cazenave: Luminary designer and sculptor
It surely can’t be a coincidence that Andre Cazenave (1928 – 2003) designed his iconic moon rock stone lights during the decade mankind finally managed to take that giant leap and achieved the seemingly impossible task of putting two men on the moon? Now known predominantly for his luminous sculptures which date from that most amazing of years – 1969 - Andre Cazenave was one of the leading designers for Atelier A, a French boutique design label and store, based in Paris. As familiar as we now are with technological advances, it is perhaps hard for us to appreciate just how staggering the amount of industrial production that took place throughout the 19th and 20th centuries was only seventy years before man landed on the moon, achieving any kind of flight at all had seemed, at times, an impossible dream. Similarly, objects that had always been crafted by hand using age-old skills passed down carefully through generations could now be mass-produced with great speed and efficiency all over the world simply by flicking a switch.
Atelier A, though in no way against the progression of technological advancement, saw their remit as redressing the balance somewhat when it came to the utilitarianism resulting from the enormous levels of industrialisation. They therefore took everyday, practical objects and aspired to elevate them to design classics.
They also endeavoured to ensure that these objects remained accessible to everybody, even if, at first, they seemed luxurious. Cazenave’s own sense of purpose too was incredibly grounded despite the space travel of his age. Dedicated to design inspired by nature, he was especially interested in introducing organic pieces to contemporary interiors; natural shapes that succeeded in bringing the outside in, reconnecting people with nature, even when they were in the midst of their own up to date, modern homes.
His light sculptures can be used anywhere, both inside and out. Designed and made in France, the moon rock lamps were hand crafted specifically to appear like real stones. Cast from fibreglass, they were coated with a multitude of fine stone imprints, a process also done by hand resulting in no two being exactly the same. The ambient light they emit is soothing; the lamps have an extremely calming effect and tactility hard to match.
Cazenave’s sculptures did not eschew industrial production, but in line with the ethos of Atelier A, they demonstrated the opportunities this type of production now afforded for an intersection with aesthetic and meaningful design. Distinctive and original, Cazenave’s lamps - designed in the era of space exploration - continue to remind us to be aware of the earth beneath our feet. Fusing two of the most important components of nature together, light and bedrock, this iconic design serves to be a continual reminder to stay conscious of the necessity and beauty of nature in an ever-changing, fast-paced technical world.
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