Industrial designer Álvaro Catalán de Ocón has a special fondness for lighting: he is fascinated by the abstract quality of light and physicality of objects that give light. This duality is what allows him to create singular lamp pieces. An excellent example of this is the Glow Brick, his thesis project for Central Saint Martins London, which is still manufactured and distributed by Suck UK. Before returning to his birthplace of Madrid, Catalán de Ocón opened a studio in Barcelona which he ran from 2004 to 2009. From this studio came his legendary lamps: La Flaca, which garnered him the Design Plus Award in Frankfurt, and which was sold by Metalarte.
Although his interesting designs for lighting such as Cornucopia and Candil have been well-received, Catalán de Ocón is more popularly known for his PET Lamps, which were hand-crafted from recycled bottles by indigenous artisans. The PET Lamp was originally part of a campaign to raise awareness on plastic waste polluting the Colombian Amazon region. These stunning and colourful lamps soon gained acclaim, becoming the model for promoting sustainability and solidarity. The first communities of artisans to lend their skilled hands came from Colombia, then Chile. The third collection, called Abyssinia was made by craftswomen from Ethiopia, inspired by the round wicker trays decorated with vibrantly coloured geometric patterns traditionally used for serving food.
The PET Lamp project keeps on growing and has been welcomed by artisan communities in Australia, South Africa and Japan. We’ll have to wait a few more months for the new collections to come out but we look forward to enjoying their elegant combination of design, technology and folk art once more.