Free As a Bird: A Q&A with Umut Yamac, Designer of the Perch Collection for Moooi
You can always count on Moooi to come out with designs that are luxurious yet playful. With its array of personable folded paper birds, the Perch Light collection is no exception. This perky flock is officially one of our new favorite things. So, to get a little more insight into the fun collection, we spoke to its designer, Umut Yamac.
YLighting (YL): How did you become interested in pursuing product and architectural design? Professional highlights to date? What do you like most about your work?
Umut Yamac (UY): My design life probably started when I first saw a photograph of the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid during an art class at school. I was so struck by the beauty of the building that at this moment I decided I would study Architecture.
I went on to study at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London where my studies were very much focused on the design process and making them. During this time, I spent a lot of time in the workshop making objects, models and installations and exploring the properties of materials and how they go together.
After graduating and working for a number of years at renowned architecture practices, I set up my studio to focus on smaller scale design projects where I could be more directly involved in the design and fabrication process. The architectural quality of the work is still there – in terms of how the work is responsive to the user and the space, such as the Perch Lights. But there is also a playfulness, which I am keen to explore further.
YL: How did your collaboration with Moooi come about?
UY: I presented the first handmade pieces at Design Junction during the London Design Festival in 2014, where I met Casper Vissers (co-founder of Moooi) and we decided to collaborate. Later that year, the collaboration with Moooi started and we developed the designs into a family of six pieces, which were launched in Milan in April 2016.
YL: What inspired you to go with birds?
UY: I have been fascinated by birds since studying Architecture. They have a very rich symbolic and cultural significance and are both familiar and mysterious, which is very unique. I think that they add another layer of meaning and interpretation to the light, which makes the designs more accessible and personal. The bird is also a fitting association with the concept of balance, which was the starting point for the project.
YL: In fact, much of your work appears to be focused on the theme of flight. What is it about flying/floating that captures your imagination and compels you to design around it?
UY: I think the free movement of a flying bird touches on an inherent human yearning for freedom. I am also fascinated by the responsiveness of a flying bird – it is contact balance with the elements, such as wind, yet appears so graceful, effortless and light, both in its movement and impact on its environment.
YL: With their long tails, the birds’ shape is pretty unique. Was that primarily an aesthetic choice, or does it also serve a specific function?
UY: The form was a combination of form and function. It was developed through numerous prototypes that explored the positioning of counterweights to achieve balance, but also to create the desired motion when touched and suggest the tail of a bird.
YL: To touch just a bit more on the functionality of the Perch pieces, how would you describe the quality of the light that they produce? Is it bright?
UY: The quality of the light is warm (2700k) and about 150 lumens for a single large bird, so not too bright. I would describe it as an atmospheric warm glow that would be complementary to a space.
YL: Where do you envision the Perch lights to be most at home?
UY: There are six different versions within the Perch Light family, so it’s a very flexible collection. Single birds would be at home alongside the bed, whilst a larger space such as a dining room or reception area could be brought to life with a Branch or Tree. The great thing about the Perch Lights is that they can also be customized – the birds can be removed and reconfigured to face in either direction or sit in different positions.
YL: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. What’s next for you?
UY: As well as working on more exciting furniture and lighting pieces, I plan to work at a larger scale where I can combine my architectural work with the products and lighting, to create spaces of play and intrigue.
Ready to explore your own inner desire for flight (and conversation-starting modern design)? Then look no further than the Perch collection.
As the Content Marketing Manager for YDesign Group, Nissa has been writing about lighting, furniture and decor for many years. Considering that there's always something new out there, she'll likely write about them for many years more. She loves all things modern design, especially those designs that reinterpret classic forms in cool, imaginative ways. If she had her way, she'd spend all her money on such pieces (and wine).