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Behind the Design of the Clover Suspension by Brodie Neill

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Australian designer Brodie Neill teamed up this year with Italian design studio Kundalini to create the Clover, a sculptural suspension light inspired by the organic lines of a clover leaf.

SHOP CLOVER

 

A Q&A with designer Brodie Neill

Interview by Sarah Schaale

Australian designer Brodie Neill has established himself in the international
design scene with his innovative aesthetic, reinterpreting everyday objects through
flowing lines and expressive forms. He collaborated with Italian design studio
Kundalini on his latest creation, the Clover, which was highly praised at this year's
Euroluce light fair in Milan. We caught up with Neill to learn more about his design.

How did the design for the Clover come about?
With something like this, it was very much about the form and
trying to create something sculptural. It emits light, so obviously
it has something for a space, and that light lights up the
form itself. It puts the piece on show in a way.
We wanted to create a very dramatic form,
and how people use it and interpret it
is up to them. The product, now that
it exists, can go out and have its
own identity.

 

My design is pretty instinctive. Some-
times you design things and it's happening
so quickly. You're sketching away and on the
computer or something and you kind of begin to solve
all of those answers: materials, color, finish, size, scale, even right down
to who—who will you collaborate with, where, how, where's it going in the end. It's a very instinctive,
very quick, very emotional process. It's very exciting to see it emerge. So much of the work that we do is on the computer and developing forms, and you can start to see that this is going to be really visually dynamic and how we're going to get light off of it and help you see the way the light will bounce, reflect, diffuse, everything. And we also made scale models. We cut them out of thick cardboard, warped them around a form so we had a hanging prototype and literally had tea lights, candles in the base just reflecting up and waited until the end of the day in the studio and saw how the light moved, bounced back. I think there's still wax all over the carpet from where they were, since they were made of paper.

We wanted to create a very dramatic form, and how people use it and interpret it is up to them.

  • Clover Suspension by Kundalini

    It's your lucky day. The Kundalini Clover Suspension is an ultra-contemporary suspension suggesting the organic influence of the (usually) three-leafed plant. Such leaves are replicated here in molded polyurethane, curving in on themselves to maximize the reflection and diffusion of light. A Matte White finish makes this cheerful fixture even brighter.

    Kundalini, located in Milan, Italy, has been classified by the international contemporary design community as a pioneering company. The result is an array of lighting objects with an original and identifiable character.

    The Kundalini Clover Suspension is available with:

    • Molded polyurethane shade
    • Aluminum reflector
    • Matte White varnished finish
    • Triangular ceiling canopy
    • Field-cuttable suspension cables
    • Not UL/ETL Listed
    • CE Rated

    Dimensions:
    Fixture: Overall Hanging Length Adjustable to 60 In., Height 9.85 In., Diameter 27.55 In. Ceiling Canopy: Height 1 In., Diameter 7.65 In.

How did it feel to have it be so well received?
It's an amazing look on people's faces when they see it for the first time. I know it's a light, but their faces light up. It's a very childlike response. It's fantastic. When it works, it works.

What's it like to see your designs out in the world?
The E-turn Bench [for Kundalini lighting] got a fantastic response in 2007. Then it took a few years to filter out into the world. And yeah, I've seen it in all corners of the world. Friends of mine take photos [of places they

see the E-turn Bench] on their holidays and send them back from Korea, São Paolo, Sicily, South Africa, they're everywhere. I was in Hong Kong recently and walked into a hotel that had them in the foyer. I've spotted it on television—sitting at home with a glass of wine one evening watching a crime movie, and now here's a gangster sitting on an E-turn. You remember all the stories on how that piece came to exist. It's still always good to see them. I've got one here in the office so I see it every day.

This curiosity, like so many designs, it's a what-if moment?

When you picture the Clover "out in the world," where do you see it?
We exhibited the piece in multiples, at different orientations, and hanging at different heights. That's one way that I would like to see it work. It's such a sculptural form that it takes on different profiles from different angles. If you can have many of them hanging from different heights from different orientations… to give this really natural look almost like floating clovers, lily pads, jellyfish. I look forward to a day of going down the street, and seeing it in a restaurant, corporate foyer or even in someone's house.

Much of your work is made from one fluid, flowing material, not many things put or pieced together. Is that a design element you're drawn to and used for the Clover?
A lot of pieces we were working on at the time were getting away from the free-flowing asymmetry of the E-turn and trying to get into some symmetry. Not perfect, but like the petals [of the Clover] are symmetrical. So there were a lot of ideas like that, and this piece also very much had a mathematical rhythm about it. Not just naturally soft and sculptural, but mathematical in its makeup, like the two figure eights on a tennis ball. The negative space is identical to the positive space.

This curiosity, like so many designs, it's a what-if moment? What if you did this, what if you did that? What would happen if you shot light up onto a curved surface that was kind of a morphing off of the central arm and then deflected the light back down? They all start from this curiosity, and then it's about development.

How do you manage that curiosity in design and knowing whether an idea is worth pursuing?
You work on them. Sometimes you get quite excited and you leave work for the day quite pleased with your efforts only to return the next and realize what you were so positive about the day before was actually a piece of junk and you scrap it. With ideas, you kind of leave them and slowly let them bubble away or bring them out another day in some kind of project or direction. It is hard to do.

You bounce a lot of ideas off of people. Of course I've gone into meetings thinking a client will absolutely love the design I show them and they're not interested what so ever. But you show them other things and they fall in love with something

completely different. But you just never know. You need sounding boards and that sort of thing, and you get to a position where you know what works. And that just comes with confidence from doing it for so long and so many times. I guess it's a bit of an early criticism of my work that it pushes the boundaries so much; how do you know how much you can push it each time? You kind of know that cusp, what's too far.

How do you stay progressive as a designer?
I'm a sponge across the board. I take it all in. Taking everything in and attending events like Euroluce and keeping an eye on other designers that are pushing the boundaries as well. Take that very ultra-contemporary aesthetic and keep an eye on that. Also, blogs, online, magazines, take it all in. Popular culture, really. I have a knack of remembering most things. Even if it's extremely unimportant, I'll remember it.

I think it's very important, and I was told this at a young age, when I was first designing furniture and lighting, to make sure your ideas are authentic and your ideas, your message, your own thing and to stick with it and see it to the end. That way your idea is best represented. I think you need to create you own idea of language and form.

The Clover is a fantastic example of that. It's important for it to get out there; it's doing its job as a light, but for me, it's this creative statement that can go absolutely everywhere. I know that the design work that I do is probably not everybody's taste, but that's what makes the design world what it is. There's all different types. The type of design that gets me excited is probably not the same stuff that you see in other parts of the world, or even the exact same neighborhood. But that's what makes it exciting, and at the end of the day, that's what gives the consumer choice.