New Lights in the House

November 2017

The lighting manufacturer Bocci has opened a new exhibition at its showroom in Berlin. In site-specific installations, works in progress, and current collection pieces merge in atmospheric density.

Wilhelmine massiveness and playful lightness seem to be irreconcilable. But in fact, their alliance is easier than expected. Two years ago, Bocci’s founder and creative director Omer Arbel opened a showroom in a five-storey former courthouse on Berlin's Kantstrasse. Since November, a new set up welcomes visitors in more than 30 rooms. Lamps are arranged in playful clusters, spanning through the entire dimensions of spaces. They interact with the heaviness of Prussian architecture that still breathes the atmosphere of a former government administration building.

For Arbel, lighting is not primarily about the product. ‘Mostly I produce experiments that have to do with the way something behaves. After the experiment, we decide what the piece wants to be. Sometimes it has to have a function. Sometimes it becomes an installation. And in many cases, it just remains in the room of ideas,’ says the Canadian designer. One example of the process is the 87 series, which was launched at Milan’s Euroluce fair earlier this year. ‘It is produced in the way people make noodles. We take glass and try to place as many air bubbles as possible into it to create an almost fibre optic quality,’ explains Arbel.

Although the name Bocci sounds Italian, the company is based in Vancouver and Berlin. The production is handled entirely in Canada – which is not a matter of course. ‘Glass culture came to North America in the late Sixties with the hippie movement and is very different from Venice,’ notes Arbel. On Murano island, glass blowers are considered as masters with a well-established hierarchy of apprentices and assistants. ‘It is very calm, no music, they just concentrate on their work. In contrast, our glass blowers in Vancouver smoke and play music very loud. It is a totally different experience,’ says Arbel. As he opened the Berlin showroom two years ago, he also wanted to establish a glass workshop inside the building. But due to housing protection rules the facility will open somewhere else in Berlin. The impact of this new location will surely be visible in Bocci’s design language, soon.