As essentially the only company making OLED applications available to the consumer market,Blackbody—a sub-brand of innovative Italian-French lighting developer Astron Fiamm—is leading the charge to bring the versatile lighting option to a wider audience. We've seen their impressive installations at both Milan Design Week and Paris' Maison & Objet during the past couple years, and earlier this week we had the chance to check out their first brick and mortar showroom. Located in NYC's SoHo neighborhood, Blackbody's sizable, open space was designed by acting Art Director and contributing designer Thierry Gaugain to encourage a comfortable viewing experience reminiscent of one's own home.
Gaugain, the former Head of Design at Philippe Starck's namesake design studio—where he worked on such high profile projects as Steve Job's yacht, Venus—devised the space to not only show off the brand's impressive lighting designs, but also to encourage visitors to consider the Blackbody products as approachable, possible solutions that are fit for everyday home use. "We tried to create, in a symbolic manner, what a home is (there is wood on the floor, there are some curtains) to give the feeling, the mood," describes Gaugain. "Because this kind of lighting is kind of unusual, so if you don't see it, it's impossible to explain. [The vignettes] give a new experience of light."
Clustered OLEDs set inside glass domes like science experiments act as table lamps. Larger consolations hang in formation, effectively creating a chandelier. Each example is comprised of individual organic light-emitting diodes, a lightweight, ultra-flat, glare-free, shadow-free and heat-free technology that can be—as Gaugain shows—applied to an impressive lighting situations. However eye catching Blackbody's products may be, Gaugain reassures his designs are functional, and meant to only enhance one's daily life, not be the focus of it.
"The idea is to not design an object to go in a museum on a pedestal—that is pointless to me." - Thierry Gaugain
"The main thing is pleasure—to make something enjoyable. It's not to make one object for one object, it's to put that inside a broader scenario—you know a boat is not interesting in itself, boats are interesting if you're with your family or friends," explains Gaugain of his design philosophy. "Everything is part of the scenario and the object is less important than the bigger picture. Boats, motorbikes, hotels, chairs, whatever, they come in this picture. The idea is to not design an object to go in a museum on a pedestal—that is pointless to me. It's about the experience."
Presenting larger custom installations and smaller, more approachable designs, each curtained area aims to give the visitor a taste of that experience. And for a rather unique experience, the showroom features a motion-tracking lighting installation. Using an Xbox Connect console, an elevated bed of OLEDs tracks movement and displays a illuminated representation of such, making for a rather fun, high-tech parlor trick. Visit the NYC Blackbody showroom for an experience of your own, now open at 25 Greene Street in NYC.
Images by Graham Hiemstra