Salone del Mobile Milano

Reverse Room

The Light Bulb Series: project by James and Susan Wines

During the frenetic week of the Salone del Mobile, Milan quietly took possession of a work by one of the best-known living architects, James Wines, who has worked with the SITE group since the Seventies on disrupting common perceptual habits. His memorable projects include the deliberately crumbling “indeterminate façade” of the Best Product  Showrooms in Houston way back in 1975, his 1981 skyscraper Highrise of Homes, an obvious forerunner of Milan’s Bosco Verticale, and, especially, his 1986 Highway 1986, an installation featuring a motorway buried under white chalk dust (for the Canadian World Exposition). 


At the Foscarini Brera Space, surprise and bewilderment are again key: a long gallery, an obliquely tilted cubic section boasting a traditional country house environment that has been turned on its head and covered uniformly in darkest black. Like Alice through the looking glass, we are greeted by an upturned world in which the light bulbs in particular are an ironic take on the very essence of electricity and, in some senses, on lighting design. 

James Wines, 86, had this to say about The Light Bulb Series: “the light bulbs merge, crack, shatter, and burn out, overturning any expectations”. There are in fact five different variations on the iconic incandescent light bulb: Black Light, which inverts the functions of the light source, the bulb remaining black and dark, while the holder lights up; Candle Light, a short circuit of different modes of shedding light, i.e. a fusion of bulb and candle; Melting Light, a bulb caught halfway between form and liquefaction, and finally Plant Light, a bulb taken over by nature, that turns into a terrarium. 

Following its success in Milan, the installation was showcased from 20th to 24th May at the Foscarini Soho Space in New York, during NYCxDesign, and from 22nd to 24th May at the One Room Gallery in London,  during Clerkenwell Design Week.