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Contemporary Seltanica Lamp * Commonwealth

Commonwealth was founded in 2005 by Zoe Coombes and David Boira, Cmmnwlth is a furniture, art and design studio based in New York City. Harnessing a new fluidity enabled by machine languages, Cmmnwlth’s interests are as material and emotional as they are technical. The studio has been commissioned by culture-driven clients such as Issey Miyake, Warp Records, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and currently produces designs for the new American furniture label- ‘MatterMade’.

Remembering the tactile pleasures of landscape, moonscape, and perhaps even more so, the fragility of aging skin, the Seltanica Lamps express a formalism unique to the contemporary world. Working within modeling software normally used to create animal membranes for animation, the Seltanica’s interiors are as much a product of technological experiment as they are guided by classic compositional rules for the creation of desirous adornment.

Too often, performative qualities of ornate surfaces are dismissed as ‘mere ornament’, that is fussy, extraneous symbols of decadence. Yet how much skill and pleasure have we, as designers, lost by renouncing ourselves of the obligation to deploy fields of entangled detail? The Seltanica Lamps are an attempt to restore the potentially powerful relationships between the smooth, and the ornate. While the minimal elegance of the lamp’s cool exterior thrives on simplicity, the interior’s rusticated walls, fleecy and shaggy enough to loose all sense of hard edge, read as soft surfaces.

The Seltanica’s interior is the product of a wet machine; one that is controlled and skillfully manipulated by the human hand. While the lamp maintains industrial characteristics that allow it to be replicated with precision, ad infinitum, the interior surfaces are not what we most often associate with the machinic that is, simplified, idealized, modules. Rather, the thickened interior is filled with variegated, and erotically charged fats and folds deforming light and shadow, placed just where they perform best under the soft white glow of a frosted bulb.



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