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Closeup of Daniel Buren installation

A Kaleidoscope of Colour

08. 08. 16   :   The Epistle

The word ‘kaleidoscope’ is derived from Ancient Greek, its literal meaning being ‘observer of beautiful forms’. Kaleidoscopes have fascinated us with their complex, colourful and constantly shifting patterns since their invention 200 years ago. The interplay of light, colour and reflection is an elusive quality that artists and designers often seek to capture in their work; glass, with its ability to reflect, refract and diffuse, is the obvious choice of material. Combine its unique characteristics with a creative mind and the result is a veritable kaleidoscope of design possibilities…

In a temporary installation that opened in mid-May, French artist Daniel Buren has used as his canvas the Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton building in Paris. ‘L’Observatoire de la Lumière’ is made up of brightly coloured filters, arranged in a chequerboard pattern, that cover the building’s 12 glass ‘sails’. The result is a kaleidoscopic riot of colour projected onto the walls and floors, which changes depending on the quality of the natural light, the time of day and the viewer’s location.

Fondation Louis Vuitton with coloured filters by Daniel Buren
© DB-ADAGP Paris / Iwan Baan / Fondation Louis Vuitton
Closeup of Daniel Buren installation
© DB-ADAGP Paris / Iwan Baan / Fondation Louis Vuitton

We’ve seen a rise in the use of stained and coloured glass in contemporary furniture this year. Brazilian duo Humberto and Fernando Campana, for example, have used coloured glass to seal the irregular, bubble-shaped openings in this wooden Aquário cabinet. The internal shelves are also made of glass, allowing light to pass through and casting pools of colour on the floor.

Campaign Brothers Aquario cabinet in green and blue
Aquário cabinet, BD Barcelona Design

Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola’s new Credenza collection for Spazio Pantaccio includes contemporary stained-glass doors in blue, red and yellow geometric patterns.

Patricia Urquiola’s new Credenza collection with stained glass doors
Credenza cabinet by Patricia Urquiola and Federico Pepe

The ABCD table from the Spectra collection by Kukka was launched at this year’s Salone del Mobile. It is made from dichroic glass, the main characteristic of which is that it displays different, shifting colours, depending on the light and the angle at which it is viewed.

ABCD Table, Kukka. Photo: Yoav Gurin
ABCD Table, Kukka. Photo: Yoav Gurin

The sparkling, refractive quality of fine crystal lends itself perfectly to the colour transitions of our ‘kaleidoscope’ theme. The Prism collection by designer Tomás Alonso, part of Swarovski’s new home accessories collection, is made from crystal prisms that are bonded together. The changing colours and precision-cut angles produce captivating optical illusions.

Tomas Alonso crystal tray in multiple colours
Tray from Tomás Alonso’s Prism collection for Swarovski

Saint-Louis was the first crystal glass manufacturer in Europe and has been a royal cristallerie since 1781. It built its reputation on the clarity of its crystal and the exceptional skill of its artisans. It continues to innovate, combining both modern and traditional techniques to produce sophisticated designs.

Saint-Louis Endiables reversible glasses in different colours
Saint-Louis Les Endiablés reversible glasses, Lane Crawford

In an interior design world in which timeless neutrals and muted tones often prevail, it’s exciting to see bursts of colour that feel fun and flamboyant.