Medusa by Mikko Paakkanen (Saas)
  • EUNIC's In Praise of Shadows exhibition is showcasing works by 20 European designers who imaginatively explore not only the potential of low energy lighting and alternative energy sources, but also the way we think about light and darkness.

    The catalyst for ‘In Praise of Shadows' is the EU directive to phase out low-efficiency light bulbs (from September 2009 through to 2012). It is rare that a design issue affects us all as directly as the switch to low energy lighting, and as well as stimulating experimental design the changeover is provoking controversy and confusion around environmental issues. And yet this should be an opportunity to do more than just change a light bulb, it's a chance to explore new thinking about lighting and sustainability.

    The exhibition includes Finnish 'Young Designer of the Year 2006', Mikko Paakkanen's ‘Medusa' Light by Saas Instruments. Medusa is a mobile light fitting and its design was inspired by the pulsating movements of a jellyfish. The material of the fixture is coated optical fibre combined with high power LEDs. A microprocessor-controlled motor moves the light fitting and changes its shape in a hypnotic way. The movement can be stopped at any stage, which makes it possible to shape the lamp differently each day. In 2008, Medusa was nominated and placed in the top three in the Forum AID Award competition and 2009 Medusa won Fennia Prize09 award.

    "It is important for a designer to understands life and materials. You have to question things, be stupidly brave and, when necessary, humble. My work is guided by curiousity" Mikko Paakkanen explains.

    In Praise of Shadows is curated by Jane Withers and aims to add spark to the debate by raising questions not only about how we use energy for lighting but also how we illuminate our lives - challenging the modern obsession with ‘brighter is better' that has held sway for the last century.

    The exhibition is organised by EUNIC London (European Union National Institutes for Culture) - with the support of the Finnish Institute in London and the European
    Commission Representation in the UK.

    In Praise of Shadows continues at the V&A until 18 October.

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