Haberdashery exhibition explores the principles of light

Design studio Haberdashery’s Freq exhibition celebrates the summer solstice with a series of mesmerising experiments with light

Design studio Haberdashery’s Freq exhibition celebrates the summer solstice with a series of mesmerising experiments with light.

A set of five sculptures explores the behavioural properties of light, throwing up constantly changing impressions and effects for the viewer. The exhibition was created in collaboration with architectural photographer Julian Abrams whose meticulous photographs of the sculptures lend them an additional dimension.

One set of sculptures, Arc Frequency, includes a geometric arrangement of ball bearings that viewers can glimpse through a small porthole in a minimalist, white half-sphere. Reflected LED light conjures an interactive kaleidoscopic image that evokes a number of associations, and the accompanying prints by Abrams capture some of the impressions created by the sculptures (see images top and below).

In another deceptively simple sculpture, Horizon, the light sources are partially hidden by stainless steel, creating a changing colour effect as the viewer moves past it. The 6ths installation, meanwhile, plays with different light reflected off stainless steel and aluminium, again challenging the viewer to explore how the light behaves.

Above: Visitor standing in front of the Horizon sculpture; Below: images of 6ths

“The exhibition aims to showcase basic principles of light,” says Ben Rigby, co-founder and director of Haberdashery. “Reflection, form, shape and surface are explored through simple geometry and carefully controlled LEDs.”

The inter-play of sculpture and photographic print is integral to the show, adds Rigby. “The print element is fascinating to us, as it punctuates our development process. The prints represent the ‘Eureka’ moments where Julian and we converged in our excitement – they hopefully capture moments of serene beauty.”

Meticulously creating the photographs in order to discover the most interesting formations and colour sequences – and to ensure the requisite high quality printing to adequately capture the deep black of some of the sculptures – was vital. “Luckily Julian is by nature an extremely careful and considered photographer,” adds Rigby.

Founded by Rigby, Daniel Siden and Mac Cox, Haberdashery is a multidisciplinary studio that creates a variety of projects, from public lighting installations to large-scale light sculptures for venues, retailers and exclusive private interiors. Collaboration is a key part of the studio’s approach, and under the guise of its Hablab, one in five studio days are dedicated to internal projects and collaborations such as Freq.

“As designers we try to keep things simple, with form interwoven with function,” says Rigby of their design process. “The simplicity keeps the works accessible and approachable. There is no underlying concept needing an essay to explain – just an ‘other world’ to be explored with your eyes.”

An interest in light is also evident in Haberdashery’s commercial work. As Rigby puts it, “The way that light can be read and absorbed by the human eye allows for an infinite number of possibilities – it is the one medium that excites everyone we work with, and allows us to communicate our ideas with all kinds of people.”

As for the current exhibition, “It communicates our interests in their most pure form”, says Rigby, and it hints “at where the studio is going next”.

Freq. Haberdashery & Julian Abrams is on at the Hoxton Gallery at The Arch, London E2 until June 27. The work will also be on show on the V&A’s Friday Late Dalston Takeover on June 28.

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