What Simone Lüling does can be summed up in the famous phrase “Same same but different”. In industry, this usually means when a prototype is manufactured for the first time in an external production facility, and the result only remotely relates to the specifications – similar, but different.
Product designer Simone Lüling has transformed this process into an art form. None of the lamps from their brand Eloa are available a second time. Today, she sees everything she has done in her life as preparation for her work. After studying in Zurich, the Swiss woman was hired by Jasper Morrison, one of the most successful product designers of our time. She later became self-employed before opening a gallery in Berlin and working for an artist. It was here that she discovered her love of freedom, which differs from the precise approach to design.
Eloa’s showroom was formerly part of an industrial hall
She is also interested in how a space relates to people. “There is no such thing as a uniform solution, everyone needs something different.” In fact, her light transforms a space a lot, hangs from the ceiling like planets or hovers over a table like iridescent soap bubbles.
You can see all this in Lüling’s showroom. The cables come straight out of the ceiling and end up in countless colorful glass bubbles of various sizes and shapes. Boxes are stacked right at the entrance and an electrician is about to connect a glass ball to the technology. The showroom is not only representative, it is here that work is done. The lamps are collected, packed and sent downstairs; on the first floor, dozens of them hang above and next to the desks. Two employees sit there and take care of new orders.
When Simone Lüling took over the studio a year ago, it was the detached part of the Reinbeckhallen, a long industrial building on the banks of the Spree in Oberschöneweide. Above you can still see the shed roof with the skylights. Famous artists like Ólafur Elíasson and Alicja Kwade work in their neighborhoods.
Simone Lüling had three floors built in, which are connected by a narrow staircase. The lamps hang in the middle. Lots of light comes through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which make the glass bubbles sparkle. A shelf along one long wall is filled with vases and bowls in iridescent colors. It only exists because a lamp broke and the designer would not throw the glass away. So she cut off the top half and had a vase.
It all started because Simone Lüling was jealous of her daughter
The beginning of Eloa was just as playful. It all started when Simone Lüling was jealous of her little daughter when she brought a glass ball with her from a daycare trip. She had even blown it up in the museum village of Baruther Glashütte in Brandenburg. And since her mother had long been interested in glass as a material, she only needed a friend who was looking for beautiful candles, and Simone Lüling had her first appointment at Baruth Glassworks. In the past, street lights were made for the whole of Berlin, but today one employee only produces glass for the museum shop. “Because it’s no longer a real business, I was able to try a lot,” says Lüling. This is how their first light came about. But the ovens quickly became too small and the orders too professional. The glassworks in the Czech Republic, with which she has worked for four years, is one of the few that has elevated free form to art.
Usually the liquid glass mass is blown into a mold. With their large light, they are created by a massive eight-kilo ball that is blown freely in the air until a hollow ball is formed, which is not about being particularly smooth and smooth.
It would have been easy to make wooden molds for the organically created balls to be able to reproduce the lights. That’s exactly what Simone Lüling wanted under no circumstances. She wanted the opposite of mainstream: “The beauty and luxury of the project is the free form.”
So once a month she goes to the Bohemian Forest for a few days to be there when a certain fan blows glass balls for Eloa and new shapes are created. So she can shout at the right moment: “Stop, that’s how I want it again – just different.” That is exactly what makes it so appealing. “It’s like a staged ballet, we’re very well tuned.”
Once, when she left the workshop for a few minutes, a particularly beautiful shape appeared. Never again did the fan manage to manufacture them in this way. Simone Lüling was only briefly annoyed by it. She likes mistakes that happen by accident as they caught dots in the glass. Also these are hardly reproducible. Therefore, each lamp is unique. Such an effort has its price, the smallest lamp “Starglow” costs about 1000 euros.
The designer opens the pattern book. Inside are the various glass colors, cables and materials for canopies that you can use to build your lamp. If you add the different shapes you can choose from, it quickly becomes very individual. And that’s not all: Often it’s not just about a lamp hanging in the room, but about how different sizes and colors can be combined with each other. This is one of the reasons why the lamps are so popular with interior designers, they hang in restaurants, offices, hotels and shops from Dubai to New York. For private clients, making the right choice can be a real challenge. But you can create your own universe in your home with the glass balls.
In the “Spectrum” exhibition, the lights from Eloa can be seen together with the pictures by the artist Johanna Jaeger. Studio 4 Berlin, Krumme Str. 35-36, Charlottenburg. Until April 9, Friday at 12.00-18.00, Saturday 11.00-16.00.