Since the invention of the incandescent light bulb, the design of artificial lighting has been one of the most fascinating tasks of designers, artists and architects. This is attested by numerous icons of design history, such as the famous Bauhaus lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. In recent years, there has been a fundamental expansion of lighting applications.

With »Lightopia«, Vitra Design Museum is dedicating the first comprehensive exhibition to this transformational development. The show will feature current works by such artists and designers as Olafur Eliasson, Rogier van der Heide and mischer’traxler, which demonstrate the new applications of light while also emphasising its archaic, emotional power.

Contemporary objects are juxtaposed with classic designs from the museum’s lighting collection – which has thus far never been presented to the public – with works by Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Achille Castiglioni, Gino Sarfatti and Ingo Maurer. Other objects demonstrate the performative power of light, like the famous »Light-Space Modulator« by László Moholy-Nagy.

A true panorama of lighting design – from the beginnings of industrial society to the visions that will define our future – emerges from the dialogue between the works displayed in »Lightopia«. The historical review of lighting design also places a sharper focus on the radical changes occurring today.

While novel plastics, coloured light and halogen lamps were the driving forces behind new designs during the past century, today this role has been taken on by digitalisation or OLED technology. Because of such innovations, light has become increasingly autonomous and independent from traditional lighting objects – it can now be integrated in textiles or facades, and that it has received a completely new importance as a powerful element that defines physical spaces.

Taking these developments as a starting point, the exhibition also addresses questions that dominate today’s discourse: How can designers, artists and architects utilise light in a way that protects our natural resources? How can we deal with the problem of excessive artificial lighting, or ‘light pollution’?
With its interdisciplinary approach, »Lightopia« shows how lighting design has influenced modern living spaces. The exhibition also explores the current paradigm shift and locates it within cultural history.

ongoing through 09.03.2014
Vitra Design Museum
Weil am Rhein