He did not intend to work with light, but this young British designer has done wonders with it nonetheless.
» Though only 25, British boy wonder Paul Cocksedge is rapidly rising among the luminaries of international lighting design. Since graduating in 2002 from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, where he studied under Ron Arad, Cocksedge has exhibited his work at the Victoria & Albert Museum (where Neon, right, appeared recently) and the Design Museum in London, and has won the 2003 Bombay Sapphire Glass prize and been shortlisted by the Design Museum for Designer of the Year.
All of Cocksedge's pieces exhibit a bit of mystery and magic, resulting from his whimsical experimentations with materials and scientific principals. A product called Watt, for example, plays on the conductive properties of graphite, requiring the user to join two lines of a pencil drawing in order to turn a light on. Bulb, another interactive fixture, contains a small light source at the bottom of a water-filled vase that switches on when a flower is inserted. Cocksedge is best known for Styrene, a creation made of melted disposable cups. Like most of his work, the project grew out of an abstract exercise: a film he made, while at art school, of the cups morphing when exposed to heat. 'I never planned to make lights,' he says of his experiments. 'The projects end up there rather organically.'
Soon after graduating from the RCA, where his entire final term exhibition sold out, Cocksedge started his own company. All of his designs are now fabricated at his shop or by local artisans. He explains, 'The things that we design here are very honest, using materials that we're surrounded with.'
'Although I design lights,' he relates, 'I don't really see myself as a conventional lighting designer. When you talk about lighting, it's driven by function.' What he strives for, he says, is 'to add the passion to light, the emotional side, which I don't think is driven by function at all.'