I was thinking about that question because one of my readers and Twitter pals Christine sent me a link to something that made her roll her eyes. She and I tend to roll our eyes at the same things, so she wanted to share this particular eye roll. Before I get too far ahead of myself, Christine Tweets as @pillowthrowdeco. She's also the pillow maker to the stars and you can see her wares at her Etsy store. If you're north of the 49th parallel, she has a store on iCraft.
Anyhow, she sent me a link to a post written by Casa Sugar a couple of years ago. Now Casa Sugar's a great website and she deserves a lot of credit for spurring the conversation she did in her comments when she ran a poll asking what people thought of this lamp by Philippe Starck.
That was one of four Gun Lamps Philippe Starck designed for Flos a couple of years ago. The comments on Casa Sugar were pretty uniformly horrified by the lamp. And based on their comments, they were missing the point Starck was making with that series. A lot of people thought the lamp was glorifying gun violence. They were also laboring under the mistaken idea that this was some readily-available thing.
I suppose it helps to know who Philippe Starck is.
Philippe Starck is the 61-year-old enfant terrible of the design world. If René Magritte and Salvador Dalí ever got together and made housewares, the result would be something akin to what comes out of the mind of Philippe Starck.
Philippe Starck is an artist in every sense of the word. I define art as a motive as much as an execution. And in my mind, art is the act of an artist observing and interpreting the world he sees. As he interprets the world, he invites me to see the world as he sees it and at the same time, he challenges me to see it for myself. Ponderous definition I know, but it's taken me years to come up with that and that's as streamlined as I can get it.
Anyhow, Starck turns his artist's eye on the world around him and the result is a tumult of shocking, offensive and as often as not, pretty objects.
Here's a handful of them.
He's also an interior designer and an architect. This is a hotel lobby in Argentina.
Amazing. Now back to the gun lamps that offended so many people on Casa Sugar.
Here's the lamp again.
It's plated in 18 karat gold and on the base, it reads Happiness is a Hot Gun.
The shade is black and there are gold crosses on the inside of the shade.
I smell symbolism at work.
Sure enough, in Starck's own words:
Black as colour of deathHmmm, that doesn't sound like the glorification of gun violence to me.
Crosses of our dead ones
Gold colour as ambition
War weapons; domestic weapons, bedside, table, living room weapons.
Aux Armes everywhere, as an ending...
Happiness is a hot gun...
My intent was to create objects to remind us that our state of well-being is the result of somebody else dying.
These Gun Lamps are intended to be art pieces, clearly. And they're priced as such. Despite the misinterpretations, I can't help but think Monsieur Starck got the reaction he was after precisely.
I think they're hilarious. Brilliant even. I can't see me buying them for me, but I'm sort of glad they're out there.
So. Do these lamps work as art? As illumination? As decor? Or do they fail on all counts?