The magic of Ingo Maurer

At the Cooper-Hewitt in New York, a retrospective of the celebrated German lighting designer Ingo Maurer offers a comprehensive overview of his nearly four decades of work.

Fascinated by what he calls the “magical and mystical” properties of light, Maurer constructs luminous atmospheres that play with traditional concepts of colour, brightness and shadow. Since 1966, he has created more than 150 variations of lamps and lighting systems; he has also designed lighting for diverse international venues, including fashion runways, public buildings and monuments, and private homes. Maurer uses unexpected materials and found objects to create light, and he is among the first designers to experiment with halogen and LEDs. “Lighting can be sensual, it can be comforting, it can even be dangerous,” he has said. “It goes beyond science or nature of even art – it is as potent as life itself.”

The exhibition marks the U.S. debut of some of Maurer’s 2007 works and provides a comprehensive look at the highlights of his career. It features numerous site-specific lighting installations conceived and designed by Maurer and his team for specific spaces in the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, home of the Cooper-Hewitt; it also includes prototypes and commissioned one-off pieces, along with photographs and films documenting his illumination projects around the world. Sketches and handwritten notes accompany the objects and installations, offering visitors insight into Maurer’s humour and creativity.

Provoking Magic: Lighting of Ingo Maurer runs at Cooper- Hewitt, National Design Museum until Jan. 27, 2008.