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Anthony Dickens

Issue 68 Aug / Sep 2012

Modular lantern system Tekiõ from London-based Anthony Dickens Studio proved a highlight of this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week.

From its prime position, framed by the windows of the Farmiloe Building at the heart of this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week, a new piece from the studio of designer Anthony Dickens turned heads and stopped passers-by. Tekiõ - a continuous, Japanese-inspired modular lantern system - had been woven through the dusty Victorian warehouse space.
The shapes formed - long stretches and effortless geometric turns - coupled with the even glow of paper from between fine bamboo ribs, make for an appealing combination.

Tekiõ was created as a visual calling card for Dickens’ studio; a self brief project that would not only allow his team to flex its creative muscles but also act as a starting point for discussions with new clients and fresh markets. “Tekiõ came about because I wanted to do an exhibition to show off the studio’s thinking, what we could do and how we apply ideas to material, structures and process,” he explains.

Faced with the infinite possibilities of an open brief, the team decided to work on creating a light piece and, as their starting point, took the idea of a simple spherical shape. Out of this process emerged the concept of a continuous lantern form that could be extended and adapted to suit any space.

Following in the footsteps of sculptor Isamu Noguchi, whose Akari lamps applied a stripped back, modernist aesthetic to traditional Japanese lantern making, Dickens has created a system of modular elements that can be combined to fit a host of contemporary applications.

Inside Tekiõ’s paper tubes is a metal spine: a series of extendable pole sections, joined together by hinges that can be locked at any angle from straight to 90 degrees. Once the desired shape has been constructed, the sections of paper shades are pulled around it. One end of the shade attaches to the frame and the other clicks magnetically to its neighbour. The simplicity of the process offers the possibility of later changes as well as easy access to the light sources within. Edison screw fittings are attached to the central frame, allowing a choice of CFL or LED sources and ensuring the lantern provides enough illumination to perform as a functional light piece.

Developing the shade sections themselves required extensive research and experimentation, testing different papers and glues and finding the best ways to work with them.

The manufacturing process is in many ways similar to the traditional techniques employed in Gifu, Japan (the home of ‘Chõchin’ lantern manufacturing), but Dickens is quick to avoid claims that the new piece is an ‘improvement’ on this centuries-old craftsmanship. Indeed, the name Tekiõ – meaning ‘adaptation’ – is a nod to his respectful appropriation of a Japanese classic, and to the limitless adaptability of the piece itself. It also hints at the more technical character of the lamp as a tool with which to create large-scale pre-planned shapes.

For Dickens, the really interesting part of the process comes in handing the piece over to designers, architects and specifiers and seeing what they do with it. As with much of his work, Tekiõ is driven by a desire to create unique products that can be customised in some way. “It’s a tool for other people to be creative with,” he says. “It can be more than just a physical illumination point; it can divide space, it can compartmentalise space, it can guide people through a space. It’s allowing people to customize -  make it unique, make it their own  - that I’m most excited about.”

View video of Tekio.


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