Ron Gilad stages a Light-Filled Theatre of the Absurd at NEMO

What happens when a designer is given complete freedom to play with a design company’s archive of products?  Something truly metaphysical. Or at least, that’s what happened when Tel Aviv-based multi-faceted creative Ron Gilad was presented with the occasion of working on a very special exhibition to celebrate the 30 years of lighting brand NEMO. By Elisa Carassai

Ron Gillad was named designer of the year 2013 by both by Wallpaper and Elle Décor. Portrait by Alberto Strada.

“What I decided to do as a non-retrospective was to almost randomly choose lighting fixtures from Nemo’s catalog – from its beginnings until last year – and use them as tools in this installation,” explained Gilad.

Reflecting on the concept of light, Gilad engaged with lighting fixtures in his usual jocose manner, figuring out how he could have light invade and re-invent the space it occupies.

“The less interaction with the body, the more freedom I have as an artist to play as much as I want,” he commented.

Enlightnment by Ron Gilad for NEMO. Pic Credit Alberto Strada.

Unfolding in five rooms of Nemo’s spaces at Borgonuovo19, in the center of Milan, including the mezzanine, the designer worked with large pieces by Le Corbusier, Castiglioni, Menghi, Albini, and Charlotte Perriand as well as with contemporary creations by Nemo Studio, Miyake, Bloget, and Osann.

Enlightnment by Ron Gilad for NEMO. Pic Credit Alberto Strada.

Playing with techniques of reflection, refraction, diffusion, colour, sound, and video, conducting light like an opera conductor, the exhibition took you on a journey through movement, space and time, because as Gilad stated himself, “because light is traveling,  light is reflecting, light is moving, constantly.”

Englightnment by Ron Gilad for NEMO lighting. Pic Credit: Alberto Strada.

An unexpected experiment that started during Milan’s art fair, Miart, and extended itself to the end of Design Week, it was for sure, an unusual, multifaceted, and autobiographical approach to re-inventing the concept behind lighting fixtures – as every installation present in the rooms in Borgonuovo presented a little bit of Gilad himself – be it through his actual physical form or an idea or concept he has explored in his past work.

From lamps activated with eyes that blink and Gilad himself singing, to spiritual anectodotes, characters walking on colorful rays, discs that speak, expanded sounds of water drops whose sound origin is not perceived, the possibilities of illumination and creation – seem infinite.

Enlightnment by Ron Gilad for NEMO. Pic Credit Alberto Strada.

But while the installation’s name, Enlightenment, seems to be a play on the intellectual movement dedicated to reason and how knowledge can illuminate the spirit, Gilad likes that “you cannot almost find reason because my work always deals with the absurd, so I actually like the idea that it’s that the exhibition is almost the opposite of the name.”

And after all, what could we expect from Gilad and Nemo Lighting if not something that will amuse, amaze and unexpectedly entertain us?