Reflections of light – Christophe Mathieu- part three

Do you have a favourite kind of light?
I really like to play with indirect light which bumps up against the elements around it, and not only within an architectural space. In this sense, a lamp is actually a miniature form of architecture, like the Discocó or the Maranga. Thanks to these elements that screen light, you play with the result and manipulate light. A lamp not only gives off light but it also receives exterior light. Designing a light is extraordinarily complex, which also attracts me. It would be great if children had a class on light at school!

Tell us about a memory associated with light.

I went on a trip to Senegal with a friend and the first thing that impressed me was the Dakar airport, which was totally dark. Here, we are invaded with artificial light all around us. In villages, we would go out for a walk at night and couldn’t see a thing. You could only hear a bunch of voices. The houses where we slept had a little light bulb hanging in the centre of the room – a transparent Edison with a really low wattage – which gave off a warm light. It sort of gave me a sense of insecurity, yet it also felt comfortable.
I live in Barcelona and there is never total darkness at night. I got out on the terrace and see lots of lights. In contrast, I like to go camping in a tent in the mountains and experience the darkness of night only punctuated by the light of the stars. Darkness conveys silence and relaxation. Sometimes we need a break from light.

You were raised in the Canary Islands. What is the light like there?
Since we’re near the tropics the light is more vertical. Especially in the summer it is more direct and the light and shadows get harsher. When I was a child, we used to live a five-minute walk away from a lookout point where the entire Atlantic Ocean was spread out before us. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular with the changes in the tones of the light, cooler or warmer, until the sun disappeared. I still like going to the beach in the evening because of the quality of the light.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I was in Milan looking for a job and I went to Enzo Mari’s studio. He welcomed me mistakenly. I was going to show him my book and he told me he wasn’t interested, but he also said: “Do you want me to give you a tip? If you have money, spend it on travel and or stay in the Canary Islands basking in the sun, because here there are more designers than policemen.”
Actually, the best advice I’ve ever gotten was something else. Work at any job, but make sure you love it. Be honest with the objects you make. If you want to accomplish something and you’re not there yet, get training and study in order to accomplish it. These are the tips I would give today. And also: look closely at the first projects you do because they really leave their mark.

I really like to play with indirect light which bumps up against the elements around it