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  • 10.21.11

Ingo Maurer’s Massive “Chandelier,” Made From Sponges And Fake Butterflies

The German designer’s lighting fixture doubles as sound absorption.

Ingo Maurer’s Massive “Chandelier,” Made From Sponges And Fake Butterflies

Crystal chandeliers are so bougie. If you’ve got money, why go for hackneyed over making a really, really big statement? That’s probably what an adventurous Munich couple thought when they commissioned the German lighting master Ingo Maurer to whip up something special to hang in their 19th-century dining room, formerly a private chapel. What they got was Biotope–a 12-foot-long topiary-like sculpture, lit up with LEDs and teeming with fake butterflies. Now, that’s a chandelier.

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Maurer achieved the effect using farmed (rather than wild) sponges, which he dyed green and sprayed with a green pigment. The sponges also serve the function of softening the acoustics in the tall, domed space. Green and white spotlights along the perimeter of the room illuminate the structure’s surface and augment the light cast by LEDs embedded in the sponges. A hidden sound system can play music or insect and bird noises. To complete the look, Maurer’s team hired Graham Owen, a California artist, to make artificial butterflies.

Too much of a statement for your taste? Maurer’s toned-down Johnny B. Butterfly–a simple oversized bulb surrounded by a Teflon shade and whimsical butterflies–might be more to your liking, not to mention your budget.

About the author

Belinda Lanks is the editorial director of Co.Design. Before joining FastCompany.com, she was the managing editor of Metropolis.

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