Skybeamer Marriott Hotel.
Exploring the essence of the object TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTO: DESIGN BY MAI
Using elegant, minimalistic shapes, designer Mai Waelkens designs large, eye-catching lamps that fill and transform the space they are in. With a very practical yet puritan approach to her work, she likes to bring objects back to their simplest form. Her company, Design By Mai, specialises in setting the atmosphere of a room with grand, statement lamps. “I work intuitively and I find beauty in imperfect objects,” she says. Every piece is handmade, and therefore unique. Waelkens draws inspiration from objects she saw while travelling. The shapes in nature also have a big influence on her. “I am inspired by the world around me,” she explains. “I‘m intrigued by the organ36 | Issue 53 | May 2018
ic and imperfect aspects of nature, where everything is one of a kind.”
Following the light After getting her degree in interior architecture Waelkens felt a strong attraction to light design. Waelkens explains: “Light design creates a particular ambience that fills a space and affects the mood in a room. I design lighting because it allows me to influence a space: my lamps alter the characteristics of the lighting conditions. They‘re bound to set a different tone.” She continues: “In that sense, my work adds something to the surrounding space, even if that sometimes means delivering lesser light than before. My work generates an atmosphere and it gives people something more than functional light only.”
To Waelkens, lighting must be more than flicking on a switch to see what is on your plate for dinner. She tries to make lighting an experience for her customers. “It was more or less a forced decision to move away from smaller lamps because the competition is so fierce and mass production rules the market,” she explains. “Today, I only produce large exclusive pendants. There is a particular audience that really loves the larger designs and is willing to pay for unique Belgian handmade pieces.”
Beam me up One of her signature designs is the Skybeamer, stretching either 88 or 200 centimetres wide. The lamp consists of two curved disks floating on top of each other,