OS ∆ OOS has carved a visual identity through interpreting the alignment of the sun, the moon, and the earth in its design projects. This longstanding fascination has found a new form of expression in the tall lamp, Heliacal, for FontanaArte. Composed of three rotating circles, it was recently unveiled at Euroluce, part of the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Tactility is embedded in the piece, as the three circles feature light-filtering discs that react to the touch of a hand. Rotating one of the discs to block out the light conveys the idea of a transit. Meanwhile, the changing gradients act like a mimesis of the day’s evolution from sunrise to sunset.

For Eindhoven-based OS ∆ OOS, composed of designer-duo Oskar Peet and Sophie Mensen, Heliacal furthers an interest in translating planetary movements into light works. “FontanaArte wanted to upgrade Gio Ponti’s Pirellone floor lamp and so asked us to think in that direction”, explains Peet, adding that there are also plans to make a wall light and a table lamp. The origin of Heliacal harks back to OS ∆ OOS’s creation of Syzygy in 2011. The word comes from astronomy, referring to an alignment of three celestial bodies, such as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet. The rotational combinations of the three discs that mimic the different aspects of a syzygy culminated in three pieces: Eclipse, Occultation, and Transit. The darkening of one of the discs represents the blocking of light at nighttime. “The end result is an atmospheric lamp inspired by the sun and its surrounding celestial bodies, where the quality of the light can be adjusted”, Peet says. Peet, who is half Dutch and half Canadian, and Mensen, who is Dutch, both graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2009 and founded OS ∆ OOS two years later. The success of Syzygy kept the young studio financially afloat for a number of years. As the piece was nearly sold out, the FontanaArte commission provided the opportunity to re-explore the original idea.

Syzygy: Occultation, 2011, Glass, lters laminated onto glass, rubber, wood, and concrete 9 x 20 x 44 cm (circle: 170 mm Ø), Edition of 36 + 2 AP + 1 prototype, Photos: OS Δ OOS
Impressed by Syzygy, Nina Röhrs, co-owner of Gallery Roehrs & Boetsch in Zürich, asked Peet and Mensen to expand on it in a more artistic way. The duo’s idea was to push the boundaries of the light-filtering foil, glass, and brass. This resulted in the Perspective objects, where the juxtaposition of the foils in combination with the glass surfaces cre- ates either a deep density or a contrasting transparency, depending on the viewer’s perspective. The immateriality of the ambient light can be made physical through the filters. Perspective 1 invites the individual to move around the piece, the surfaces appearing to transform according to the individual’s viewing position. Perspective 2 has the capacity to move independently, without the user’s interaction, the rotation of one or both of the discs revealing the changes in transparency. The latter has been selected as one of the 10 winning entries for Design Parade Hyères at Villa Noailles in the South of France this summer. “The two pieces play with each other to create an infinite number of possibilities”, informs Peet. The pair first made models out of Plexiglas in order to develop the shapes. Conceptually, the lamp is related to their Bipolar table, so-called because the surface planes on the glass sheets seem darker or more transparent depending on the observation point.

Roehrs & Boetsch also commissioned OS ∆ OOS to make a cast edition of their Primary Fluorescents, which feature fluorescent tubes built around geometric structures – a triangle, a circle within a square, and a semi-circle. “The original edition used this cool marble-looking foam, which we’d always used for packaging, and formed it around the glass tube”, says Peet. “However, the foam kept changing colour because of the UV rays. So we cast Styrofoam using the lost-wax method and chose aluminium as the final material, striving to retain the original look.”

Bottle-Up project, 2017, An initiative of Hubert & Elisabeth van Doorne and Dutch Design Week Making products out of glass waste, together with local craftsmen in Zanzibar
OS ∆ OOS’s self-analysis came to the fore when the duo participated in the Talisman — Contemporary Symbolic Objects exhibition at the magnificent Palazzo Clerici during Milan Design Week. As one of 46 design studios invited to create a talisman object, OS ∆ OOS made a small, rotatable piece com- bining brass, glass, and discs that embodies the essence of their practice. The starting point was the lettering on their business cards, which they abstracted to make an object, as a form of self-reflection.

In May, OS ∆ OOS are taking part in Morphosis, a three-day exhibition at a castle in Schwanberg, eastern Austria, presenting a new sculpture called Tunnel, made from laser-cut, extruded aluminium tubes. “We’ve always had tubes lying around the studio and wanted to do something with the idea of those parts”, says Peet. The tubular concept segues from their flexible Mono-Light installation made of six lights. What are the different qualities that Peet and Mensen bring to a project? “I go nuts making drawings, usually filling pages and pages as we discuss things”, Peet replies. “With my engineering background, I ensure that the ideas we put on paper are relatively feasible in terms of construction and technique. It’s great that Sophie can ignore this and assume all things are possible, which keeps us open-minded.”

Perspective no. 2, 2016, Roehrs & Boetsch gallery, Zürich Glass, lightltering foil, and brass 120 x 45 x 174 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 PT, Photo: Jeroen van der Wielen
A talisman, 2017, Talisman - Contemporary Symbolic Objects exhibition Salone del Mobile 2017, Glass, light-ltering foil, brass, aluminium, and stainless steel 29.5 x 23 x 13 cm, Photo: Tullio Deorsola
Climbing out of their comfort zone, the pair took part in the bottle-up project in Zanzibar last year, together with three other design studios. During the 10-day sojourn, they co-designed a collection of seven products made out of discarded glass bottles, in collaboration with local artisans. “It was rewarding to work on a project with a direct influence on the environment and on the people living there”, says Peet. “It changed our design mentality because we had to think up creative solutions for even the simplest of processes that we take for granted in Europe.” These emerging designers are also venturing into interiors.

Their first such project is a new shop in Eindhoven for opticians Ace and Tate, the Dutch acetate eyewear brand, which is due to be completed in June. Once again, they have worked on the idea of transparency. As Mensen adds, “It’s quite a long space, so we had to think about people walking all the way through. We designed two glass cubes in the middle.” And a podium at the back that can be used by young designers during Dutch Design Week in October, while the steps leading up to the podium can also display products.

Our conversation is taking place a week after the Salone del Mobile. What did they enjoy about the event? “It’s interesting to see our peers working for bigger companies – Formafantasma is making pieces for Flos”, says Peet. “Slowly but surely, our generation is becoming the generation that we’d look up to.”

Morphosis is at Schloss Hollenegg for Design in Schwanberg, Austria, 5 – 8 May 2017.

Design Parade 12 is at Villa Noailles in Hyères, France, 29 June – 2 July 2017. / The exhibition runs until 24 September 2017.

This article appeared in DAM62. Order your personal copy.
Helical, 2017, Floor lamp, Stem in black-painted tubular steel, and glass diffusing discs with a polarised surface 174.5 cm x 45.5 cm Ø, Photos: OS Δ OOS
Oskar Peet and Sophie Mensen (OS ∆ OOS), 2017 Photo: Lisa Klappe
Tunnel, 2017, Stool, 70 x 30 x 40 cm, Annodised aluminium in champagne colour, Photo: OS Δ OOS