Like a moth to a flame, Annette Baumann has always been drawn to light, with a creative eye and gifted hand that brings a new sense of wonder into the world of illumination.
From her earliest days as a student of interior architecture and design, to her experiences working as a lighting consultant around the world, and now to her newest and bravest venture, as a designer maker of extraordinary lampshades, it really would seem she was drawn moth-like to light. Annette’s appreciation for light seems tightly bound to notions of its atmospheric and aesthetic qualities – not just any flame will do…The lampshades Annette creates are mysterious and beautiful, the lighting designs she worked on as part of the team at FOTO-MA Lighting Architects and Designers for Rosslyn Chapel and the National Portrait Gallery are sensitive to the heritage and demands of the spaces, and even a university project that centred around light yielded an extraordinary frosted-glass-cube confection that revealed hidden messages when lit.
Annette makes sure that we, her audience, gather awed and moth-like around her silk creations, mimicking the behaviour of the moths she depicts.
Don’t worry if you are not a moth-lover though, there are plenty of dragonfly and dot variations to keep you happy too, with further designs in development. Annette laughs that she had to create an alternative to her moth idea, even though that was her original inspiration, because her husband did not appreciate their home being invaded by hordes of moths, no matter how luminous and silky…
So how did an undoubtedly talented lighting consultant move into designing and making unique lampshades?
For Annette, having children prompted a change of pace, at least briefly, but in the aftermath of the recession there were not vast numbers of creative jobs available. Innately creative with an eye for detail, Annette took up upcycling furniture, but found herself working in a fiercely competitive market. The discovery one day of an old wooden standard lamp, however, was to change her creative practice completely. Having lovingly restored and re-wired the lamp, Annette could find no shade that she deemed worthy of it. As she contemplated this problem, and the sort of shade that would be worthy, the concept of a lampshade, with moths that only appeared when the light was switched on as if drawn to it, was born. She may not have known it at the time but the lampshade for her standard lamp was to become the prototype for her technique and ‘Moth Flurry’ collections.
‘Like in real life I wanted to convey the idea of the moths only appearing at night time when the light is actually being switched on. I liked the concept of the lampshade transforming from something seemingly ‘ordinary’ into something special when lit and the sense of surprise and magic this holds. It took a lot of experimenting and trial and error to come up with a technique to get the idea to work.’
Having eventually completed the lampshade to her satisfaction, Annette realised that this was something she could do, that she had many contacts from her career in lighting, and that she was creating something that was truly unique. She first launched her work two years ago and has been carefully gathering a loyal following ever since.
‘Every lampshade I make is made to order and very often fully bespoke. I invest a lot of thought and time into each piece I make.’
Annette hopes to grow her practice, by expanding her designs to reach new audiences, that will eventually enable her to earn a living from her work. ‘It’s a shame that more people don’t impulse buy lampshades’ she sighs good-humouredly. Happily, Annette is establishing herself at a time when there is increasing respect for handcrafted pieces as something more wholesome, more immersive and more desirable than mass-produced products, something truly unique. Moth-fury, or even her dotty lampshade editions are certainly not something you will find on the highstreets.
‘Personally, I find it much more fulfilling to find and buy something original, hand-made, maybe even created in collaboration with the designer maker. Apart from the thrill of owning something truly unique, the piece will forever connect a memory or a little story which adds a certain value or quality. Buying mass produced, throw-away products from big department stores just doesn’t give me that same experience. I think it’s great that more and more people are starting to feel this way and really appreciate original crafts again.’
Annette, we whole-heartedly concur #slowbuying
Craft Design House. Where unique is standard.