You know those giant street paintings that, from exactly the right angle, look like a dolphin leaping out of a pool, or demons crawling out of a plunging vortex into hell? Meet the Flatlight, an intricate latticework of finely etched brass that turns a tealight into a 3-D candleholder.
Now on Kickstarter, the Flatlight is the creation of Nir Chehanowski, an Israeli-born jeweler who studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. A jewelry designer by trade, the idea for the Flatlight originally came from a desire to make something different.
"I've been exploring the relationship between 2-D and 3-D worlds for the past few years," Chehanowski tells Co.Design. "It wasn't until I started looking to design something that could be held in one hand but that wasn't jewelry that I started thinking of an optical illusion candleholder." In many ways, the Flatlight is still jewelry, but for the table instead of the body.
Combining a classic object with modern design, the Flatlight resembles a CAD drawing, ironed flat with a steamroller. Rest a candle on top of it, and it looks just like an abstract smear of brass lattice. Viewed head on, though, the Flatlight "pops out" and becomes a wireframe 3-D model. It's op art for the dining room table!
Designing an object like the Flatlight, much of the work goes into getting the angle and perspective just right. Chehanowski originally prototyped the Flatlight using laser-cutting tools, but in the case of the Flatlight, the artist couldn't produce the results he wanted to achieve with enough accuracy. "The little details are the most important things you can consider when creating an optical illusion," says Chehanowski. In the end, the artist is producing the Flatlight using photochemical etching, which corrosively machines away the excess material on a thin brass sheet to the highest degree of precision.
Chehanowki's aware that some people will consider the Flatlight to be a gimmick, but it doesn't dishearten him. "If an object you've made makes someone look twice and actually touch it, then smiles, you've achieved your goal as a designer," he tells us contentedly.
The Flatlight is now available for preorder on Kickstarter for £12, or about $20.