Simon Starling (born 1967 in Epsom, England; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark).
Book and lamp; 47.0 x 31.0 cm.
“In 27 Homemade Henningsen Lamps (+ 1 Average Lamp) Simon Starling exposes aesthetics to mathematics in a whimsical project with cast-iron logic. Over the course of several years, Starling produced a number of homemade versions of one of Modernism’s most characteristic lamps, Poul Henningsen’s PH5. The original lamp consists of a series of overlapping metal shades that produce an elegant yet unmistakably period-looking light fixture. In twenty-seven versions of this design classic, assembled from elements found in junk shops and flea markets, including metal lampshades, and the occasional cooking pot lid or wok, Starling approximated the beauty and balance of the original lamp. As Starling himself has stated: ‘Each Homemade Henningsen Lamp stands as a kind of retrospective prototype. As a group of related objects they are like a set of recurring “first thoughts” for a much-celebrated lamp that already exists in mass production. Their construction, in the spirit of any prototype or model, is an attempt to “think with one’s hands”; to learn by doing. The idea of reiterating or re-enacting the design process returns the object to a state of innocence, moving back in time to a moment when the lamp remained a speculative dream—a reverse shift from capital to potential.’ At the end of the series, Starling decided to produce a lamp which would be the average of all the twenty- seven previous versions by generating a mean size and shape—an attempt to return to the mental image of the PH5 lamp that haunts the 27 improvised originals. He worked with a company of metal spinners in Berlin to produce his industrially made (though still artisanal) lamp. The ‘average’ version was generated by morphing images on computer which unified their often irregular shapes into a single 3D rendering which was then used to produce the wooden formers for spinning the various shades.”
—”Simon Starling: 27 Homemade Henningsen Lamps (+1 Average Lamp),” Three Star Books.
“Other works by Starling contain references to the Modern Movement and to the failure of its utopias, in an attempt to recover that ideological impulse. He therefore creates hand-made replicas, produced from discarded materials, lamps… and other objects that, although they were originally designed as democratic improvements to our living conditions, with time have become exclusively collector’s items.”
—Monste Badia, “Simon Starling: Exposition,” website of Monste Badia, last modified April 2004.