May 1, 2006
Bend It Like Derhaag
The Dutch designer’s versatile 45 lamp for Flos.
Tim Derhaag likens his design process to playing with found materials as a kid. “When you’re a child you have these things lying around, like empty toilet-paper rolls,” he says. “You can do so many things with them.” The 31-year-old Dutch designer initially builds product models out of paper, a material he started using as a design student because it was cheap and ubiquitous. “If you fold a strip of paper on a 45-degree angle, you get this really nice edge,” Derhaag says. “I fell in love with the reflection of the light on that little corner.”
That corner was transformed into his recent 45 lamp with the help of a deceptively simple plastic-and-aluminum hinge that allows the lamp head to swivel, providing the option of both direct and indirect light. “I wasn’t designing a light so much as I was playing around with rectangles and angles,” Derhaag says. The abstract form—which comes in many sizes and an array of weather-treated materials—is suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. Here Derhaag takes us through the subtleties of the 45, available through Flos (www.flos.com).
The use of aluminum posed the biggest problem because the light is small and the material transfers a lot of heat. In manufacturing such a simple piece, everything is a challenge. You cannot put extra bits like screws on it because they would immediately stand out.
At the moment the lamp is available in anodized aluminum and laminated teak or black paint finishes. We started with the teak because I wanted it to look like some weird wooden block in your garden. However, the anodized aluminum reflects the light better than the other two materials and is a reference to the production technique of making the body from extruded aluminum tubes.
The light is available with opal white or clear diffusers that—along with either a halogen or fluorescent bulb—give off different light qualities. It comes down to what you’re going to use it for and what you prefer.
We start off with a basic rectangular tube and cut it at a 45-degree angle. If you take one part and turn it sideways 45 degrees and put it together again, it matches up perfectly. It connects seamlessly with every rotation you make.
I’m not a big fan of minimalism, but if you like simple things—such as pieces of paper—you often end up with a very minimal piece. I’m really much more concerned about what you can do with things like paper clips that are around you already.
It’s almost like a jigsaw puzzle in that both the head and the stem come in many different dimensions. Since the design stays simple regardless of size, it’s versatile enough to be used on the floor, wall, or ceiling.