Figural Lightshade Collection
Object design

What makes a shape a figure?  In his 2016 “Before Theory” essay tracking emerging “trajectories of architectural experimentation”, Kyle Miller adeptly differentiates between the two: 

“[S]hape is defined as the silhouette of a solid primitive.  Circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles are shapes.  Figure is defined as an articulated shape with associations to something other than itself.  The outlines of objects such as ducks, baskets, crowns and hearts produce figures.  Shapes have names and figures have associations.”  

Through a circularly iterative process of production and evaluation, this series of handmade paper lightshades explores the fluctuating perceptual boundary between shape and figure, and the figural associations that arise through minor variations in shape.  

This morphological series of Euclidean forms is constructed from developable surfaces of hand cut, scored, and folded paper.  These models have two basic components, “bodies” and “heads”: (1) “bodies” are shape-solids with extruded bases of (primarily) equilateral triangles and squares, and (2) “heads” are formal caps consisting of (primarily) 30-60-90-degree sloped facets.  

Under these rudimentary constraints, the lightshades acquire the potential to evoke a wide range of associations with varying sociocultural connotations of class, status, and objecthood: from the derogatory dunce cap to the monarchic crown; from the primitive shelter gable to the gothic spire.  

For rudimentary variations in form to produce such contrasting associations across the social strata, this series lays bare the artificial and illusory nature of such connotations, leaving behind essential qualities of form, and material, and light, and shadow.  

Additional custom iterations break from initial constraints in order to respond to contextual and functional concerns.  Please feel free to inquire for more information, including for custom orders.  

Kyle Miller, “Before Theory” in Teresa Stoppani (ed.), Giorgio Ponzo (ed.), George Themistokleous (ed.), This Thing Called Theory (New York, Routledge 2017): 45-54.  [Link here]

Physical media: 140-lb. paper (hand-cut), LED uplighting


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