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José María Faerna
Madrid
Diseño de interior Magazine

La luz fantasma

You don’t often find lamps the size of basketball players. Especially ones that disappear the moment they are turned on, the moment lamps choose to make their presence felt. The opposite is usually the case; we were used to lamps that minimised their physical presence as much as they could when they were turned off, as if performing a vanishing trick once their job was done. But where can you hide a lamp more than two metres tall?

Ramón and Otto found the perfect answer. Like a detective novel where the clues are there for all to see, but nobody notices them: the lamp is hidden behind its light, mimics it, becomes confused with it. I suppose, as is often the case on great occasions, that they weren’t really looking for this result because they had probably not even asked themselves the right question. What Ramón and Otto were looking for—and what they sold Metalarte—was something more humble: a lamp that would work indoors and outdoors; that would be as much at home in a living room as in a hotel; a lamp whose technological features would fit in with production techniques; a lamp that could be produced at a good price. Well, what happened is that, as happens on great occasions, they did come up with this result because, in industrial design, when you are going along the right track you always, almost inevitably, find more than what you were looking for and you end up with lamb rather than mutton. This is the difference between having a good idea and something just occurring to you.

Those who try to go directly from being an apprentice to being a ‘superdesigner’ often put the cart before the horse by inventing a problem to show how they can solve it with an inspired object. Ramón and Otto took all the necessary steps: they explored the possibilities of rotomoulding, deciding that, to make a lamp, it was no bad idea for its shape to somehow contain the iconic lamp and, to see what would happen, they tried making it much larger than lamps usually are (in the end experiments with scale are a two-way affair: if they had a large lamp they would surely have as many small lamps as they wanted). Just at the place where all these strategies crossed they found the point where, as well as satisfactorily resolving all the problems that had been posed, they could also see the other side of the question: when switched on, the light and the skin were the same thing. The traditional limitations imposed by the support and the diffuser disappeared as if by magic. At a time when buildings aspire to become vast illuminations, virtual light-boxes, they had come across a lamp that transformed itself into its own phantom, that became completely dematerialised without by any manner of means losing its formal and figurative power. Such an effective object that it immediately became a best seller and so full of character that it left the factory with the stamp of a classic. As we said, lamb rather than mutton.

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