Lighting guru Michael Anastassiades to give an illuminating talk at Design Joburg

The London-based designer tells us what drew him to specialise in lighting

12 May 2019 - 00:00 By Staff Writer

Design Joburg, featuring Rooms on View and SA Tourism, has invited London-based designer Michael Anastassiades to speak at the Kohler Theatre as part of this year's show. 
He tells us what drew him to specialise in lighting.
Tell us what Michael Anastassiades as a designer is all about.
That's quite an existential question. Design is something I always wanted to do.
I graduated 25 years ago and over the years I've realised there are no rules regarding how you should engage in design. It can be something that is very personal; something you need to work out on your own.
I always wanted to set up my own practice and, through a process of elimination, I landed up in lighting. I'm still learning though.
What about young Michael and his exposure to design growing up?
I am a bit of an anomaly in that no-one else in my family is creative. Growing up in a small place like Cyprus made it challenging to be exposed to creativity and design, so I had to work at finding creative people. I connected with several artists while growing up, as well as the architect my father commissioned to design his country house.
You're best known for your lighting designs. Was this something you focused on from the beginning?
I stumbled across lighting and decided to pin it down. It wasn't a set direction, but I experimented and got encouragement from others.
When I set up my brand in 2007, I choose lighting as I felt it was easier in terms of scale. It's more complex than that; there are many components and a lot of technical detail, but the scale of lighting is more manageable.
I didn't exclude myself from other forms of design and have created many non-lighting pieces for my own use or for private commissions.
What do your new lighting designs say about the direction of your work?
Milan is an interesting platform that sets a deadline for my studio to come up with new designs.
We launched 12 different lamps at Euroluce in Milan this year. In a sense, these designs are a departure for us as we move into areas we haven't operated in before. We have access to more complex components, which means we can do much more than before. I'm finding mobile lighting exciting right now.
I design for the home and part of this entails defining what home means. For me it's a place to return to. I want things to be low tech and my mobile lights, for example, are a reminder to feel this notion of what home needs to be.
What does coming to SA and specifically Design Joburg mean to you?
I am so happy to be a part of Design Joburg 2019. There are so many design events worldwide and it's lovely to see places that are not in the world spotlight coming to the fore. Design should come from everywhere, and especially from SA.
I grew up in Burundi and although we moved to Cyprus when I six, we visited Africa frequently. Africa is a very special place to me. Although I was very young, it inspired me subconsciously. I can't pinpoint what it is exactly, but it certainly made an impact.
• Design Joburg is on at the Sandton Convention Centre from May 24 to 26. Michael Anastassiades will be speaking on the opening day. Visit designjoburg.com..

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