Arts Illustrated

April 6, 2020

Mirror, Mirror, On the Ground

‘Design is a way to see and understand: a delicate answer to a pertinent question.’ Simply complex and yet cognizant of the beauty of design, furniture designer and artist Arnaud Lapierre evocatively articulates his philosophy and approach that uses semantics to create an imaginative expression of design. Lapierre talks to us about his latest project ‘Azimut’, an installation that uses mirrors to reflect fragmented ideas inherent in the cohesiveness of thought.

Moksha Kumar

How did using the mirror as ellipses and not any other shape occur to you?

In the beginning, it was first a different process, a different organisation. The artwork was born naturally with mirror discs suspended on a ceiling; and as I observed them, the revolving movement of the discs interested me. So I kept that as part of the installation, as something natural to the flow of movement. And it doesn’t break the reflection too much, as a square-shaped mirror would have done. I needed something smooth and precise, like a magnifying glass, to bring a true focus to the landscape, but also something that would be defragmented out of reality.

I wanted to change the way we look at things, the landscape and architecture. I like the notion of abstraction, because it pushes us out of our comfort zone. So I decided to work on the ‘azimut’ concept, which is the angle in the horizontal plane between the direction of an object and a reference direction. By giving an angle to a rotating cylinder, it now works like a beacon, scanning for details all around.

Arnaud Lapierre, Azimut, Dynamic Mirror Art Installation, 16 motors, 16 batteries, black painted pdf, Stainless steel discs, Venice, Italy, Installation view. 

What motivated you to combine the discipline of furniture-making with the fine arts?

It is a very interesting question. For a few years now, I have been less and less interested in furniture design and found myself a little bit stuck with ideas. Art, however, is more liberating and it is easier to communicate the intention to a wider audience. Art is first an experimentation, a will to discover something weird or stunning or strange that I can then translate into a shape to deliver an emotional experience. How can we change the function/look/use of an item? Sometimes it is very hard to apply these questions on objects, but in art, they are easier to explore. Most of the time, my industrial design work nourishes my art. I like to introduce technology or industrial processes into my installation, but I do my best to hide the complexity to make it simple and pure, so that the only message coming out of the artwork is that it reveals something new.

Arnaud Lapierre, Azimut, Dynamic Mirror Art Installation, 16 motors, 16 batteries, black painted pdf, Stainless steel discs, Venice, Italy, Installation view.

Was this project a commissioned work or a culmination of a long term vision?

This installation comes from an abandoned project. It was a scenography project for a contemporary dance ballet. At the beginning of the performance, a large mirrored disc would move slowly above the dancers, each disc controlled by an engine that would sometimes redirect the light on a group of dancers. I wanted to deepen this project in partnership with the city of Venice just before the Architecture Biennial. I was invited to place it there, though that has since been cancelled because of COVID-19. But, truly, it is the perfect spot. There is so much to discover, so many details to spotlight. I love Italy and I love Venice, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting. But my work can fit anywhere – Paris or London or any natural landscape with multiple shades of the sky and clouds. In fact, I am hoping to place it during the Basel Miami Fair on the beach, since the Florida sky has so many contrasts and colours. I am also working on the alliteration of this principle which can be used outdoors or indoors, hanging on the wall or the ceiling, or placed on the floor for interested galleries and art museums.

All Images Courtesy of the Artist.

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