Curator’s Eye: Cloud Lamp by Susi and Ueli Berger
INSPIRED BY POP ART, THE CLOUD LAMP IS THE ANTITHESIS OF functional design. At first, designer and artist couple Susi and Ueli Berger wanted to make an inflatable cloud with an integrated neon tube. But then they took advantage of the vacuum-forming process to create an amorphous glowing object.
Polystyrene materials are typically stiff and hard, but when heated the thermoplastic becomes rubbery and pliable, allowing it to be formed like a membrane. Through the vacuum-forming process, small series of shells or hollow bodies can be produced with minimal effort. The Bergers used this novel process to create an amorphous cloud, first making molds for the top and bottom, and then using a vacuum to cause the hot polystyrene membrane to cling to the molds. Once cooled, the shells retain their form and can be effortlessly joined together, thanks to their congruent edges. Unlike the turned or pressed rotary forms abundant in the world of lamps, symmetry is alien to this cloud—it presents itself differently from every angle. Hung freely from the ceiling like a lantern, it is not a tool with which light can be aimed or directed but simply a glowing body, a cloud in a cartoon sky. The Basel-based manufacturer J. Lüber, which was looking for small, innovative pieces of furniture to add to its product range, launched serial production of the Cloud lamp in 1976. It was made by Lüber until 1979, then in 1999 it was produced in a limited edition by the Design Collection of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; since 2002 it has been sold by Wohnbedarf.
Design Collection Museum für Gestaltung Zürich