At the 2022 Milan Design Week, MVRDV and Delta Light presented the High Profile series, a range of luminaires inspired by residual product: leftover aluminium profiles. The design looks critically at the manufacturing process, finding not only opportunity, but also beauty in elements that are normally discarded as waste.
Belgian lighting company Delta Light closely collaborates with architects in their projects and is a regular guest at Milan Design Week. In the search for a designer for their latest collection, Delta Light looked to MVRDV. In addition to a high-quality product that would be consistent with the Delta Light catalogue, they also requested a design that would be bold, colourful, and conceptual, in line with the architecture that MVRDV is renowned for.
The team of MVRDV architects and interior specialists, led by Jacob van Rijs, decided to make a feature out of the difference between the way a luminaire is presented in a showroom and the less glamourous reality of how a luminaire is crafted and produced. A sustainable approach to the production of the new range was the starting point; the designers wanted to work with recycled materials where possible.
“The project started with the question of whether we could develop new possibilities with Delta Light’s waste material, instead of inventing a completely new product”, says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “A visit to Delta Light's showroom and factory showed an interesting contrast between the lighting, which was presented amidst a great art collection in their showroom, and the factory where raw materials, components, cables, drivers, screws, caps, packaging – in fact, everything that goes into a luminaire – was visible. In particular, the stacks of aluminium profiles in various shades of white, silver, black, and gold proved to be a source of inspiration. The amazing details of these profiles are usually hidden inside the wall or ceiling; we wanted to make their beauty visible as the main feature of the new design.”
Profile lighting is a key part of architecture, but offcuts are often a residual product. These scrap elements became the starting point of the design. By varying the scale and size of the extensive Delta Light profile range, a series of luminaires could be created from this element. The High Profile series presents a cube-shaped pendant luminaire, a wall fixture in the shape of an arch, and a freestanding model with profiles placed side by side. The industrial look is softened by giving the profiles a colour dip; the series comes in pink, ochre, light green and light blue among others, adding MVRDV’s well-known use of expressive colours to the usually white, black and gold assortment of Delta Light.
To make the design approach functional in the long-term, MVRDV’s technology taskforce MVRDV NEXT developed a script called the "Profile Remixer" which can generate possible compositions with all of the 50 types of profiles, and evaluate them with real-time data. With this tool, the High Profile concept makes an allowance for the ongoing development and adjustment of the design, accommodating the changing availability of leftover profiles and changing demands for size, shape, and composition.
The name ‘High Profile’ illustrates the process of putting in the spotlight that which is normally found backstage. At the same time this series is an homage to craftsmanship, because each luminaire is carefully made by hand, collecting precisely engineered and designed profiles.
In addition to being made from industrial elements, High Profile also questions the re-use of materials and sustainability throughout the whole production process. By re-using what is already there, new aluminium parts don’t need to be manufactured or transported from the production plant – significantly reducing the environmental impact. The luminaires can also be disassembled, meaning that a part of the raw materials can be reused. The design therefore invites consumers to think carefully about the materials that are all around them; to see beauty in the everyday and to see opportunity in what we usually ignore.